Sunday, July 13, 2014

An encounter with the Fan Throated Lizard!

It was a nice sunny day on a winter morning and myself and my wife were heading to
Koonthankulam Bird Sanctuary in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu. Though we knew that we were little early with respect to the arrival of the winter migrants there, we had decided to take a chance
and see if we can find any interesting species.

When we reached the place, as expected the lake was dry and there is no sign of an
migrants anywhere around, except for a couple of Blue Tailed BeeEaters. As I was
scouting the place via my binocular, my wife called me in a hurry to show me something
which she had seen for the first time! It was a Fan Throated Lizard and it was a first
sighting for me too! It was a male and the guy was in full display mode.

It was going to the edge of a small rock and displaying its colorful gular flap in full vigor! I
had seen colorful rock agamas in and around Banglore but this colorful display was first
time for me! As I went onto my knees to shoot this fella I noticed that it was going back
and forth to a place nearby and coming back to the rock.

It was doing it often and when I looked at the place where it was going, from a distance, I could see anything much there. But on the second look and carefully observing I saw another lizard that was almost completely camouflaged in the vicinity of the tiny rocks and dust around. The pattern on
its dorsal side was so much deceiving that it was almost impossible to distinguish the
female from its surroundings.

The male was going near to the female and coming back. It was desperately attempting
to divert our attention away from the place where female was lying, by exhibiting the
threatening display from another point.

We observed the whole drama from a safe distance so that the duo is not disturbed. After some time, when they both felt that we are no more threats, the female started to move and it is then we saw what she was up to until we came there. She was digging small hole underneath a small rock, may be to lye
eggs! The male was fiercely protecting the female.

Once they became comfortable with our presence, the female started to dig further. The male was constantly vigilant about the activities happening around was always very attentive.

I searched for the presence of any more males around but couldn't find one anywhere
around. The process of digging continued for another 15 min or so with lot of intermittent
breaks in between. We decided to make some images of male and head back as we
didn't want to disturb them. We hope that the female might have laid eggs and the
hatchlings might have come to the world safely.
It was an amazing encounter over all!