Lifescapes Gallery

13 / Jan / 2010
The Lost Emperor
Black-naped Monarch, Coorg Photograph: Kiran Poonacha Story: Rajesh Ramaswamy

The Lost Emperor

He may be the monarch of all he surveys, but this is one member of the avian royalty who’d much rather avoid the spotlight, thank you! No flashbulbs, no glitzy ‘coming out’ balls, and definitely no obliging those pesky jungle paparazzi, no matter how noble their intentions. If you want a glimpse, much less a good picture of this shy sovereign, you’d need to catch him off guard, which again, is about as rare as a glimpse of HRH’s onyx black nape. It’d help if you were a male Black-naped Monarch too, for, nothing but a threat to his empire can get that nape raised dramatically. This is as much to assert suzerainty over his patch, as it is to look more intimidating to the potential interloper. This does provide a rather comical picture of a small body haughtily holding up a head too large for it, but we’d suggest you keep your opinions to yourself. It wouldn’t do to ruffle royal feathers, would it? Our blue blooded Royal is also blue bodied, perhaps to hint at his regal lineage. The ladies of the line are however not allowed to dazzle, and their raiment is decidedly duller, and lack those magnificent black markings. After all, it wouldn’t do to outshine the king. Like most other monarchs, there’s nothing our naped emperor likes as much as a good hunt, and he doesn’t turn up the royal beak at mingling with the proletariat. Royal repast consists of a variety of flies, often caught on the wing, as the hunters swoop down from their thickly wooded perches, strike fast, and disappear back into the secret recesses of their jungle kingdom, leaving us mortals to wonder if we actually saw that divine flash of blue speckled with black, or if it was just a flight of fancy.

We at Orange County have loved sharing this story with you, and shall bring you one every fortnight, as part of our Responsible Tourism Initiatives to raise awareness about the nature and culture of the environments we operate in.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 13th, 2010 at 10:00 am and is filed under Birds . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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User Comments
  1. Thomas George says:


  2. Monica says:

    Rich Prussian Blue, A real Emperor indeed! Fabulous capture.

  3. Dariius Sunawala says:

    Fantastic shot!

  4. Diwakaran Nair says:

    brilliant capture. with camera and with pen.

  5. Partha says:

    Brilliant. Both the picture and the writeup.

  6. manjunath vankadari says:

    Congratulations on being constantly in touch with us and also for gifting me your monarch.

  7. maya says:

    i was born in hosur this bird is so coool

  8. Hashim Tyabji says:

    Stunning photograph that captures the essence of this delightful bird. Congratulations, Kiran!

  9. B Ramagopal says:

    Yet another beautiful photograph and a wonderful write up. We sort of getting used to these beautiful articles & photographs that we look forward to it eagerly.

  10. Shankar says:

    AMAZING and HEART WARMING. This bird is gorgeous and reminds me each time that there’s so much to conserve and preserve for the future. Kudos to a brilliant shot and thank you for bringing this beauty to the open.

  11. Arkalgudk Aagaraja says:

    Congratulations for the initiative! Keep it up!.

  12. Sandeep says:

    Excellent Picture. You are a Very Good Photographer.
    Thanks and Regards,

  13. Revathy Uthaiah Chottekalapanda says:

    Beautiful shot! I have not seen a black-naped monarch in Coorg yet. Maybe during my next visit. I am a part of the New York city audubon here. Please put me in your mailing list!

    • Vikram Nanjappa - Chief Naturalist Orange County Kabini says:

      Dear Revathy,
      I am glad you enjoyed receiving Lifescapes. As per your request we have added you to our mailing list and we hope that you continue to derive similar pleasure from our subsequent mails. This is also to inform you that Lifescapes showcases not just birds but the entire gamut of the culture and nature. In other words … life as seen at our destinations, which at present are Coorg and Kabini.
      We are delighted to see a member of the New York city Audubon commenting and requesting to be enrolled onto Lifescapes. Would be great if you could share Lifescapes with your friends at Audubon in New York.

  14. Roopa Thimmaiah says:

    Superb photo. The bird is very very sweet like a little angel.I loved it. Thanks for the great picture.

  15. Bruno says:

    Simply superb. Captured with great confidence.The complexity of positioning to get such a great picture is really admitable. Good picture Kiran.

  16. shivuu.k says:

    I am happy to see “Lifescapes” for this type of rare and beautiful pictures.

    What great and super bird. I Like this
    great shot and composing sir.thanks..

  17. Vicky says:

    I love receiving these ‘lifescapes’ – the photos are incredible and the information about the subject is so well written. This little jewel is a beauty – his feathers the colour of sapphires.

  18. Vikram Nanjappa - Chief Naturalist Orange County , Kabini says:

    Lovely photograph of an elusive jewel, Kiran. While they are territorial and remain close to their ranges in pairs or alone,they also gather in small flocks or with other species when it is not the mating season. Also called Pacific monarchs, Black-naped Monarchs are only 6 inches long making it even more difficult to photograph. Great capture Kiran !

  19. Tapas Misra says:

    The object, onyx black nape, is so stunningly beautiful and the capture is so amazing that any comment would sound superfluous. I can only applaud, and thank Orange County for sending this picture.

  20. Nancy Koeppel says:

    As the snow continues to fall outside my window here in Brussels, Belgium, you have no idea what a treat it is to find this beautiful monarch in my e-mail! Thank you! Looking forward to many more birding mornings at Orange County.

  21. christina k. says:

    thank you for sharing with me the wonderful picture, please continue doing so. the presentation is perfect. keep up the good work.

  22. Jagadish Bopaiah. M. says:

    Great very good picture and wright up

  23. A.G.Kothandapany says:

    All the photographs you have been sending , are extraordinary pictures, fantastic professionalism in the field, and above all your interesting & knowledgeble hobby. Hope you will continue the same.

  24. Eric Finley says:

    Stunning bird and wonderful capture Kiran! I have seen these monarchs many times but never quite like this. Thanks to you and of course to everyone at Orange County for sharing these images and some of the many treasures of wild India.

  25. Manish B Joshi says:

    Whosoever writes these for Orange County – this has become a part of life. Edging and remiding every forthight that I need to be back there.
    Thanks for sharing the wonderfully written stories and great photographs. This is a great move to encourage and remind us to visit Orange County again and again.

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