A drive to Neemrana Fort with #BoltDrives

On Sunday, the 10th of May 15 bloggers went for a fun drive to Neemrana Fort with Blogadda and TataBolt. It was a hot Delhi summer day but it was also an opportunity to meet with other bloggers and the now familiar Blogadda Team,

And ofcourse to experience the new Tata Bolt.

The morning began with selfies and groupies.

And tweets,

We were divided into teams and were encouraged to share information about ourselves so that we could be introduced beyond what the blog world knew us as.

This was easy – I shared my yet unknown passion for bird photography, gender equality, against destruction of habitat of the animals on this planet (including humans). I was delighted to have two extroverts as my team mates.  🙂

We were given a presentation to understand the car we were going to experience – and the part (as always) I found the most interesting was the safety features and the tech enabled new age features one would not have dreamt of in cars a generation ago!

Specially designed high resolution touchscreen – ConnectNext touchscreen.

Smartphone enabled navigation with MapMyIndia maps, that uses android smartphone.

Video playback and image viewing option on the touch screen (via USB AND SD card) – (Come to think of it, I hope these can be used only while not-driving, that would be a safety feature. Drivers texting or viewing images or videos while driving is not a good idea)

This feature that would impress those who love music while driving (and who doesn’t? Anybody?) –  Speed sensitive auto volume control. The Bolt automatically raises the music volume as the car goes faster ‘ensuring a consistent audio quality’.

Voice command recognition to make calls, change tracks, control, AC, Incoming SMS notifications and read-outs  – I view this as a safety feature, seeing how many traffic accidents are a result of drivers texting while driving.

Safety is important I feel and so was glad to see dual airbags that ‘cushion the impact to protect the driver and front passenger (in an event of a frontal collision’).

We test drove the three different driving modes – Eco, City and Sport Modes.

We were in City Mode when I took this photograph 🙂 🙂

And then we reached.

It was hot!

Harish pointed out the three legged bull.

We had to walk up a little,

And we were enthusiastic 🙂

A little more,

And then we had this view,

Neemrana High Tea

The bloggers had energy enough after all this to explore the Neemrana Fort in a guided tour. I skipped this part and spent some time interacting with others who also chose to stay back.

We also had exposure to some art and culture.

The drive back was more fun because it was cooler and the drive was long, smooth and fun – and full of conversation. We were accompanied by one Captain Bolt in our car and another Captain Voice, who we kept trying to identify but couldn’t!

Before we parted, we exchanged blog links and twitter handles and I promised to watch Piku and nobody promised to to change their political views 🙂

Wire Tailed Swallow

When I first saw a photograph of a Wire Tailed Swallow, I thought the photograph had been photoshopped.

Wire tailed swallow, Basai Wetlands, Gurgaon, Gurgaon Birders

Notice the wire tail?

Wire tailed swallow, Basai Wetlands, Gurgaon, Gurgaon Birders

Maybe,  I thought, because we have only seen them high on wires 🙂

Wire Tailed Swallow, Basai Wetlands, Gurgaon

The young (immature) Wire Tailed Swallow is black. Not shown in these photographs.

Wire tailed swallow, Basai Wetlands, Gurgaon, Gurgaon Birders

The adult is an iridescent blue, a little like the Purple Sunbird.

Wire tailed swallow, Basai Wetlands, Gurgaon, Gurgaon Birders


Wire tailed swallow, Basai Wetlands, Gurgaon, Gurgaon Birders

.. no photoshopping, these are the actual colours.

Wire tailed swallow, Basai Wetlands, Gurgaon

A closer look.

Wire tailed swallow, Basai Wetlands, Gurgaon, Gurgaon Birders



Ashy Crowned Sparrow Lark

At first I wasn’t sure this was really a bird. Would have missed it if it was not being photographed by another birder. Ashy Crowned Sparrow Lark - Indian Homemaker

Then it moved just a little, to turn it’s head to the side …Ashy Crowned Sparrow Lark - Indian Homemaker

Oh yes, it was a bird!!

And what a beautiful bird. Ashy Crowned Sparrow Lark. Ashy Crowned Sparrow Lark - Indian Homemaker

It was hot.

Ashy Crowned Sparrow Lark - Indian Homemaker

And then it confirmed it was not a stone, by flying 🙂

Ashy Crowned Sparrow Lark - Indian Homemaker

We saw it again.

Ashy Crowned Sparrow Lark doesn’t seem to be a shy bird.Ashy Crowned Sparrow Lark - Indian Homemaker

Later, on the computer – once the image was cropped,  it was easier to see the beak and the ashy crown and the silver-grey cheek.

Ashy Crowned Sparrow Lark - Indian Homemaker

Large Grey Babbler

Looked like a Babbler but wasn’t a Jungle Babbler or Common Babbler.

There were just two of them foraging in the grass, unlike the Saat Bhai or Seven Sisters.

Large grey babbler, Gurgaon

Found something…

Large grey babbler, Gurgaon

I couldn’t see exactly what it found.

Large grey babbler, Gurgaon

Cruel, …cruel nature.

Large grey babbler, GurgaonNote the whitish outer feathers to the long tail, and the white belly..

Large grey babbler, Gurgaon

The iris is yellow, but the beak or the legs are not.

Large grey babbler, Gurgaon

Related Posts: 

Yellow Eyed Babbler

Pied Myna



Black Rumped Flameback

I was looking at this Common Tailor Bird…

Common Tailor Bird - Gurgaon Birders - Tau Devilal Biodiversity Park

Not expecting to see this flash of flame!

Black rumped Flameback - Gurgaon Birders - Tau Devilal Biodiversity Park

A Black Rumped Flameback Woodpecker!! 🙂

Black rumped Flameback - Gurgaon Birders - Tau Devilal Biodiversity Park

Almost invisible. Despite the bright red and a flame back.

Black rumped Flameback - Gurgaon Birders - Tau Devilal Biodiversity Park

This explained the tuk tuk tuk…

Black rumped Flameback  Gurgaon Birders - Tau Devilal Biodiversity Park

The coloring matches the background.

Black rumped Flameback - Gurgaon Birders - Tau Devilal Biodiversity Park

There it is!

Black rumped Flameback - Gurgaon Birders - Tau Devilal Biodiversity Park


Black rumped Flameback  Gurgaon Birders - Tau Devilal Biodiversity Park

Easily missed. Black rumped Flameback - Gurgaon Birders - Tau Devilal Biodiversity Park

There it was again, on another tree.

Black rumped Flameback - Gurgaon Birders - Tau Devilal Biodiversity Park

See the colours!

Black rumped Flameback - Gurgaon Birders - Tau Devilal Biodiversity Park


Red Billed Leiothrix

I first saw this beautiful bird in Gangtok, and barely managed some shots before it disappeared into bushes.

Red-billed Leiothrix or Pekin Robin, Gangtok

Googled to find the name.
Cute little Red-billed Leiothrix, Gangtok

Saw it again in Sattaal this June 🙂

Red Billed Leiothrix FB

It was a warm day…

Red Billed Leiothrix FB


Red Billed Leiothrix FB

All I had to do was wait near a pool of water…
Red Billed Leiothrix FB
And this time I could see it was not just a dark green bird with a bright red bill…

Red Billed Leiothrix FB


Red Billed Leiothrix FB


White Cheeked Barbet in Goa

July is not the time for looking for birds in Goa, but I was there for the #zestupyourlife event so decided to stay back till 29th – not really expecting to see too many birds.

And what did we find!!  🙂

White Cheeked Barbet was one of the 20+ species we shot from our hotel balcony… all while sipping tea and enjoying the light drizzle.

This tree attracted all the birds.

Hotel Balcony

The drizzle and the lack of sun which made the weather so awesome, also meant the light was very poor.

1White Cheeked Barbet, common myna
I thought Barbets ate only fruit.
1White Cheeked Barbet with bee
If I had not seen it going there, I would have never known it sat right there – at a distance, but clear enough amongst the leaves.
1white cheeked barbet
Feeding a juvenile?

1White cheeked Barbets
Many more and better White Cheeked Barbet photographs in another post.
1white cheeked barbet


Related Posts:

A Coppersmith Barbet on a tree outside Anna Hazare’s home in Ralegaon Siddhi.

When a Brown Headed Barbet visited a friend 🙂


So how was the Tata Zest test driving experience? 

Although I was more curious about and interested in the Diesel automatic version, I think this version would require some getting used to.

Will continue later!

Wed, 30th July 2014

Back home after a looong weekend in Goa… experiencing the Tata Zest, and capturing colourful birds (although this is off season for bird photography in Goa)…

But let me continue where I left.

So what do I think of Tata Zest?

My review maybe influenced by the fact that I drive only when there is no other way to reach somewhere.

Here is what I would look for while buying a car,

1. Mileage, and the general cost of running it.

There is the diesel version.

2. Comfort and a feeling of space.

Loved the comfortable, spacious seats and leg room. Missed the place to keep water bottles, coffee mugs.  The boot seemed spacious enough.

There are three Driving Modes for driving in the city, on the highway or in ‘Sports Mode’.

Steering wheel with integrated controls – ac, music. Nice.

3. Safety.

The car has Dual SRS Air bags – a huge plus for me. The car also has speed sensing door lock – another plus.

Speed-sensitive power steering – it seems the steering would not feel as light at higher speeds. I know of a friend who was troubled by Power Steering when she first used it, so I suppose this could make the car safer to drive.

Another feature which I wish all cars had is – Ultrasonic rear park sensors with display on touchscreen.

Touchscreen! More about it, in a moment.

4. AMT (Automated manual transmission) is available in the diesel version – so clutch-free driving!!

Though this could take some getting used to, I feel AMT should be welcomed by many users, even more so by those who drive only to reach somewhere, and those who dread  the Indian traffic – provided it is priced competitively – Bloggers I spoke to seemed to think it should cost between 5-7 lakhs.

5. Gizmos 🙂

Entertainment features

Bluetooth, voice recognition, text-to-speech and phone-enabled navigation

The car will read out your SMS out to you and also tune the fm channel for you! We are told, this car has been trained to understand Indian accents (unlike my Samsung Galaxy SII)

8 speakers – if you like music while driving (I think everybody does)  Harman infotainment system.



The way the Zest had been introduced reminded me of this much loved Tata Zeta ad 🙂

And finally – here’s what just writing this review has done for me, made me want to take out my car and go for a drive 😀


Related Posts:

I did it 🙂

Driving on a rainy day 🙂