A flock is strength – Grandala
The shiny royal blue coloration of the Grandala (Grandala coelicolor) male, in a backdrop of pristine white snow, or when it is speckled like brightly colored jeweled blue fruits on the branches of a tree, make it a joy to watch and record on the lens.
Royal birds with royal blue color! We got to see these endemic birds at an elevation of 9000+ feet near Lachen, North Sikkim, India. We had travelled from Pune to North Sikkim to see some of the rarities in birds and the Grandala was one of them. For the first couple of days, we had no sighting of these species. Eventually, on one of the mornings, there was heavy rainfall at Lachen. Snowfall at higher altitude causes rainfall at the lower elevation of the mountains. As confirmed with the locals, there was a heavy snowfall at 18000 feet above., We witnessed a big flock of Grandala at Lachen itself. The flock was so big that it contained almost 450-500 Grandala in numbers. It rained the entire day at regular intervals, resulting in a full day sighting of these elusive birds.
As a part of the observation, these birds stay in a flock. You will never see a single Grandala in any of the regions. And that is how they stay protected from other raptors like sparrow hawk, buzzards, eagles and other bird of prey. Flock always bonds together. So even if a single individual flies, the whole flock goes with it. The same system is followed during feeding time. Grandala feeds on fruits and perches on fruiting trees for a long time. The entire flock of birds position themselves on a single tree, dyeing the whole tree a temporary royal blue color. We saw such tree from a distance and it looked as if the tree had blue colored fruits on it. The color is very vibrant and exotic, hence one could see such tree from a fair distance. Often we saw that a part of the flock got dispersed, flew around as a small flock, and then, eventually, after some time, the flocks combined again.
Although the weather conditions were not favourable for photography, I was able to capture a lot of images with different frame compositions. We got some mesmerizing frames, like a Grandala couple, a tree full of Grandala and the flock in flight through the snow. We spent the entire day with the Grandala, but another bird sighting was excellent as well. I must say if you are a bird watcher, or a bird photographer, or a bird lover, once in a lifetime you must see this attractive bird in real!
Read also: Revisiting the moments in the wild
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