The Butcher

Every once in a while you come across some events in nature that leave you mesmerized. Here is one such event from my archives.

I have been visiting Tal Chapar for quite some time now and the amount of bird-life I have seen there is unparalleled. It is a treasure trove for raptor lovers. On one of our drives in the outskirts of the park we got the company of a pair of Southern Grey Shrikes for around a couple of hours.

It was an evening drive with the sun hovering at  a good angle in the sky, good in terms of photography, when we met up with a Shrike with a Spiny Tailed Lizard kill out in the open. It picked up the lizard and moved it to a slightly more bushy area where it could eat in peace, or so we thought.1

As soon as the bird was satisfied with the position of the kill (which was kept in typical butcher-bird fashion, shoved against a small stump in the ground), it left. I was a little surprised and waited to see what happens next as I could still see the bird. It hadn’t gone too far.

Within moments, out came another Shrike and landed on the kill. It feasted on the lizard for a good hour or so and in the bargain gave us some lovely moments captured on camera as well. I have often repeated this scene in my mind in-order to try and decide why did the first individual leave?

There are two obvious options
– Feeding the mate : A pretty common behavior in birds, where one feeds the other during breeding season.
– Capture and claim : Maybe the other shrike was just more dominant and the first individual was just taking a breather and before it knew, the dominant individual made the claim.

I am torn between the two and I don’t think i’ll be able to come to a conclusion any time soon but it was an incident that I wont forget anytime soon.2

To be in presence of birds that are comfortable around you is a privilege and I am glad that these two individuals didn’t mind my presence on that day as they went about their daily chores if I may say so.

I believe, in this case, we acted wisely by not going too close to the action too early. The Shrikes gave us a good hour and a half with them and we were a happy bunch at the end of it all.



While out in the wild, it always pays to be patient and hold on before lunging forward towards the subject. Too often have all of us been guilty of rushing in and disturbing the subjects.

Be calm, be patient, they can sense it I feel. It helps them get comfortable and do what they naturally want to.

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  1. Ashok Desai October 8, 2017 at 11:10 am #

    Dear Rahul,

    Your blog is excellent. Some very good practical articles.

    Can you please advise me about using a teleconverter. I have a Nikon D7100 and a Tamron 70 – 200 2.8 lens to which I want to add range with a TC. Is it worth it as I have heard that there is a lot of image degradation. Your advice would be appreciated.



    • October 8, 2017 at 11:25 am #

      Thanks so much 🙂

      A TC to that lens shouldn’t degrade the quality really. well if we go into the physics it will make a difference but by and large with the 2.8 Lens a TC (hopefully a Nikon TC) should not be much of a problem

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