The Lesser Florican Sypheotides indicus is endemic to the Indian Subcontinent and is found in tall grasslands. These bustards are found mainly in north western and central India during the summer but are found more widely distributed across India in winter. The species is threatened both by hunting and habitat degradation. Photographer Raghavendra M spotted this rare bird in Bangalore and this is what he had to say.

On a winter morning in December 2011, I went on a bird watching trip in the outskirts of Bangalore. I reached the site, but the weather was cold and the Sun had not come out yet, so I waited for the Sun to show up. When the light improved after some time, I saw a harrier fly past me. As I was ruing my chances for photography, I observed a medium sized land-bird crossing the road about 15 meters from my car. At first sight, I thought it was a juvenile Jungle Fowl, but on seeing the structure of the head, I had a hunch that it could be a bustard. I slowly moved to the place where the bird had crossed the road, and was able to spot the bird more clearly amidst the thick grass. I took a photograph for record before the bird vanished silently into the grass. After waiting for a while for the bird to emerge again, I decided to scan the area. I could not spot the bird, but then all of a sudden the bird flew out of the grass at few meters from where I stood, and flew away to a great distance. When I returned home and checked the photo I learnt that the bird I saw was a female Lesser Florican – a rare sighting in Bangalore. While this brought a great joy to the birder in me, photographer in me thought a great photographic opportunity was missed.

I tried my luck again next week and this time I could spot the bird in open. I photographed the bird and observed it for quite some time. This has been truly the best birding experience of my life so far and I feel blessed to have witnessed the occurrence of this endangered species near Bangalore after about 100 years.

Lesser Florican