Nikon F3 with Nikon 300mm f4/2.8
Location: Sagarmatha National Park, Nepal
We spent six
weeks camping in the mountains to document the breeding cycle of the
Monal, living, as many of the Sherpas did, solely on potatoes
(breakfast, lunch and dinner). The colourful and displaying males were
relatively easy to spot but finding and getting close to the cryptically
coloured females was much more difficult. They are very cautious not to
reveal their nesting sites and rarely come into the open when foraging
with chicks. Time, patience, understanding and luck are required. The
brightly coloured male ‘bird of nine colours’ alerted me to this female.
He is drooping his wing in display to her. Even so I could only get this
close by shooting through a small opening in obscuring herbs and bushes
after many hours of watching and stalking.
Himalayan Monal is a near-endemic found in the higher altitudes of the
Himalaya. The brilliant male is a sight to behold in the cold dark
landscape of the high Himalaya.
Interestingly, the Nepalese name for this bird is 'Danphe' and the Satyr
Tragopan is called the 'Munal or Monal' in the same language. In a
strange twist of crossed-communication, the Danphe became the Monal and
the true Monal became the rather 'out of place sounding' Tragopan. The
IOC had a good chance to take the initiative and rectify this historic
blunder when they came up with the recent name revisions - but this must
have been the last thing on their mind.
The male of the species chips in at 72cms and the much more difficult to
observe female is smaller at 64cms.
Birds of India presentation
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