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Lesser Sand Plover: Charadrius mongolus

Lesser Sand Plover
Charadrius mongolus
Lesser Sand Plover: Charadrius mongolus
Status: Least Concern
Small wading bird. Bird in front with orange-rust colouration on head and nape and black streaks on cheeks is showing breeding plumage. The other one's got the worm.
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Eurasian Hoopoe: Upupa epops ceylonensis

Eurasian Hoopoe
Upupa epops ceylonensis
Upupa epops ceylonensis: Eurasian Hoopoe – pronounced (hupu);  (Sanskrit) Putrapriya, Kathaku, Kuthaku; (Hindi) Hudhud.
Conservation Status: Least Concern (Green)
That is how Hoopoes are listed in most references – Least Concern. I’m sure the experts are correct on this and have a count in current period. My amateur impression, spread across four decades at least, however, is that nowadays I don’t see Hoopoes in the same density in Delhi as I used to growing up on the edge of Central Ridge. It is possible that living close to a relatively uninhabited pocket of forest habitat as a child biases my memories. Perhaps if I had lived away from such a forest pocket as I do now, my memories might not have recorded a significant decline over time. Perhaps Hoopoes are spotted in numbers in built up slivers of Delhi along the UP and Harayana borders. Anecdotally, I have struggled to spot sufficient numbers of these birds in Delhi, and even in Keoladeo Ghana considering KNP is such a large habitat.
In my experience at KNP there are too few Hoopoes compared to other birds and there are fixed spots where you can find them. Therefore, they could be members of a small community of Hoopoes. At Bhindawas in Harayana, I spotted just two Hoopoes in an entire day. The odd one can be spotted at Asola Bhatti Wildlife Park as well.
There could be a few reasons for this: Hoopoes need old trees with hollows for nesting, preferring open spaces and broken woodlands with such trees to dense forested areas; Hoopoes typically forage on the ground despite nesting in tree hollows – their long, decurved pointed bills are used to probe earth for insects, worms, maggots and such delicacies – and such open spaces are almost absent in larger part of Delhi these days. Even parks within colonies have vanished. Old trees in colonies have been systematically poisoned, killed and then cut to by expansionary residents of Delhi to avoid environmental laws; similar open spaces and fields in the interiors of India are rapidly being replaced by colonies and commercial projects; and these are shy birds anyway.
Hoopoes are magnificent birds – their black and white striped wing patterns can be dramatic in flight and their erectile brown and black striped crest are equally dramatic. Leaves of the erectile are rolled into a cone normally, but when excited, they unfurl in a most theatrical manner.
Their call is quite distinctive – the male of the species has a quite loud, hollow treble sounding “hoop-hoop-hoop” or “pooh-pooh-pooh”. This is the source of its name – Hoopoe or Hudhud.
The female of the species vigorously guards its eggs and will fight to return to nest at cost to itself if displaced by hand. The male feeds her during the incubation period. This is probably the source of its name putrapriya in Sanskrit. It’s constant probing of the ground gives it its other Sanskrit name  Kuthaku.
These birds climb up trunks and look woodpecker-ish: for quite a while growing up, I used to think they were!
This photograph is, therefore, precious for me even if it may be common for many. 
Photographed at Keoladeo Ghana National Park, Bharatpur, Rajasthan, India on 2.3.2014
Camera used: Nikon D5100 DSLR with AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-300mm VR Lens.
1)       Sanskrit Name Source: Birds in Sanskrit Literature: With 107 Bird Illustrations by K.N.Dave
2)       Hoopoe page on Wikipedia.

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