White winged wood duck (Cairina scutulata) is believed to be the world’s rarest duck. It is one of most endangered birds found in India. Obviously it is a dream for any birders or wildlifers visiting in India to have a glimpse of this bird.Their population has been declined drastically and less than 800 remains in the wild out of which around 300-350 can be found in India.
Nameri tiger reserve is one of the few areas where this species has been recorded (other than Dibru-Saikhowa Biosphere Reserve). It has a very small population and they perfectly camaflouged in a thick vegetated slow moving or standstill waterbodies of the forest which makes them very difficult to spot and photographed.
I have been to Nameri multiple times for this bird in last 4 years but ultimately nothing worked out. Not only hard work in the field but also good luck is needed for it. Crossing the Jia Bhorelli river by small kayak and then walking for 12/14 km on an average per day with camera gear is indeed a affliction but all these torment boils down to extreme happiness when you see this species in front of your eyes. They are so cautious and pragmatic that even a tiny sound of a dry leaf will make them fly. This January we spot a pair of wood duck in a muddy patch inside the Nameri tiger reserve which was around 600/700 ft away from us. Being a muddy patch, it became an added advantage for me to approach the bird as there were not much dry leaf inside the channel and I could crawl it easily. I bent down on the ground, scrolled and approached slowly and silently. One of the bird flew off but other was there with the pond heron and allowed me to approach further. These are the couple of images of that incident. Most of them are shot in the single shot click as continuous burst mode of the camera may make them fly.