Dianne and I were on our second day of touring Kaziranga National Park in Assam, India on January 17, 2011. We were standing-kneeling-sitting in the back of a Toyota truck that had been outfitted to serve as a tourist safari vehicle. A functional vehicle that eventually ate my shins due to my inability to stand in a stable position as the vehicle lurched beneath me. My discomfort was a small consequence to be in such a wonderful location with nothing to do but enjoy the time, the extreme diversity of animals and plants and the company in which we found ourselves. With us was our Help Tourism naturalist, Shishir Adhikari and national park naturalist Palhous. These two gentlemen typified our Indian friends for the 5 weeks were there. Great senses of humor and well educated. Friendly is an understatement. Palhous was comfortable enough with me that he did not hold back from teasing me about my lens inadequacy. They are used to photographers of the Art Wolfe caliber being part of their tours and my paltry 28-300 mm lens was certainly not up to muster compared to the big lenses “real photographers” brought along. I heard about this a few times. “Too bad you didn’t bring your 600 Mr. Bruce”. Whatever. I pushed the lens and the Nikon D700 it was attached to as far as I could optically and relied on cropping the large files down on our return. This photo is a fairly extreme crop but the quality seems to carry for this type of presentation.
We were bumping down the dirt road when Palhous called out “Roller” and pointed to the roadside. I saw the bird immediately (not always the case) and grabbed focus as the bird sat and scanned the area. I was thrilled by the colors and the new bird for the list. And then it flew. Oh my! The colors intensified and the pattern became more dramatic. I placed a small inset of the bird in flight so you can get an idea of the beauty of the bird. Even Palhous was pleased when he looked at the images on the back of my camera. I’m sure he was still thinking about how good it could have been if I’d been equipped with a monster lens.