Livelihoods: Driving others

June 23, 2017

Every now and then, a glimpse into lives very different from our own, brings us up sharply against alternate realities.

I am used to the notion of auto drivers as rough, rude people who will generally not co-operate with passengers. This preconception got a jolt when I noticed this man driving his autorickshaw in the traffic.

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It cannot be an easy life when your own mobility depends on a pair of crutches. I realized that this man, and many others like him, battle many disadvantages to earn their living. I have learnt to try and remove my prejudices, and look afresh at my ideas about my fellow-citizens.

3rd Sunday outing, Turhalli, 180617

June 21, 2017

It was still rather cloudy and overcast as several of us met at Vajrahalli Gate, on our way to the Turahalli Forest Trail, where a few more nature lovers from the nearby areas also joined us.

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It was heartening to see that several children had joined the walk too! Keerthana had brought her friends Anvitha, Krishna, and Sahana; Subrahamanya C N and his wife Neha had brought their son Shreyamsh along. Many of the children kept meticulous notes in their notebooks.

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Ulhas introduced himself and talked a bit about the Turahalli forest, its earlier range and present confines. Prasad, too, joined us, and shared his knowledge with us.

As we slowly walked up the trail, Deepak decided that rather than go uphill, we would take the path skirting the base of the hill.

Ulhas and Deepak (centre left, and right)

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The usual gang of suspects, as we like to call the birds that one expects at a birding spot, turned up one by one…White-cheeked and Coppersmith Barbets, the Green Bee-eaters flying around as they hawked insects in the air, those who were more experienced pointed out the birds to those who were coming on an outing, or seeing the birds, for the first time.

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Nor were birds the only creatures of interest. Several of us were interested in the plants and trees that we passed; Ajit, Subbu and I looked at the tiny, beautiful flowers of what Arun Kumar N later told us, was the Byttneria herbacea, or Herbal Byttneria.

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Some species of Clerodendrum,

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little blue Evolvulus flowers at our feet,

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Spider lilies

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the children (and some of us adults too!) having fun watching the Touch-Me-Not (Mimosa pudica) close up its leaves when we touched it….all these added to the walk. On the trees, the summer flowers were slowly giving way to the monsoon greenery, but here and there, the Jacaranda still held on to its purple blooms. Tiny wild jasmine flowers starred the path and added the magic of scent to the sights and sounds.

The sounds, too, were plenty. Ashy Prinias and Tailorbirds “marked attendance”. The sight of a peacock with a full “tail of a thousand eyes”, in the branches of a Peepal tree,

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held us riveted at the beginning, and we kept hearing them throughout. The songs of Oriental Magpie Robins floated liquidly through the air, and we heard the harsher call of the Shikras even before sighting one.

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All around us, the butterflies dotted the air as they flitted about, and a fair amount of the walk was spent observing these winged beauties.

Crimson Tip

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Common Gull

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Zebra Blue

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Cotton Stainer Bugs

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Spider, Turahalli, 180617 Plexippus paykulli, Salticidae spider

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Finding some caterpillars,

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a large Cicada, and other insects, also kept our interest from flagging.

This Yellow Pansy was caught in a spiderweb, and the eternal dilemma…should we intervene or not? solved itself as the butterfly suddenly freed itself and fluttered away.

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The heavy, moisture-bearing clouds slowly gave way to the fleecy cotton-puffs (insert scientific names like Nimbus and Cumulus here!) that heralded bluer skies and bright patches of sunshine. Several walkers and cyclists shared our path.

Subbu and Nandini, who live in Turahalli Forest View, informed me that the Indian Rock Eagle Owl can still be seen regularly in this patch. We were not able to see too many raptors, though, probably because of the cloudy weather; we were content to see Brahmin and Black Kites, and an Oriental Honey Buzzard.

It is one of the marks of an interesting walk that even after many of us returned to our starting point, we were still observing and enjoying ourselves, and rather reluctantly pulled ourselves away

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to go off to a late breakfast at Adayar Ananda Bhavan (A2B)!

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Birds:

The eBird list, compiled by J N Prasad, is

here

Birders (as far as I can remember)

Adnan Raja,Ajit Ampalakkad, Amit C Javgal, Anil Bhatta,Anirudh
Bhatta, Anvitha, JN Chandrashekar,Deepa Mohan,Deepak Jois, Harish
Chandra, Janhvi Vyas, Lata, Keerthana ,Krishna,Lata, Nandini, Neha,
Padma Ramaswamy, Prashanth M Badrinath, Raji Hari, GS Ramaswamy, Rupa
Rao, Sahana, Sarrah , little Shreyamsh, Reshamwala,Sathyan, TS
Srinivasa, Sriram Prabhakar, Subramaniam Kumar, Subrahmanya C N,
Tamanna, Tara Jayarao from Hyderabad,Tarachand Wanvari. Uday
Kumar,Ulhas Anand, Vijay Krishnan. If I’ve left out anyone…put it
down to my famous memory (or lack of it) and forgive me!

Butterflies:

Baronet
Blues, Various
Blue, Tiny Grass
Blue, Zebra
Brown, Common Evening
Castor, Common
Cerulean, Common
Coster, Tawny
Crimson Tip
Crow, Common
Cupid, Plains
Emigrant, Common
Emigrant, Mottled
Gull, Common
Jezebel, Common
Leopard, Common
Mormon, Common
Orange Tip, White
Orange Tip, Yellow
Pansy, Lemon
Pansy, Yellow
Pioneer
Rose, Common
Rose, Crimson
Tiger,Dark Blue
Yellow, Common Grass
Yellow, Three-spot Grass

I have put up my photos on an FB album

here

Let me leave you with my “shadow selfie”…

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Passiflora incarnata at the Butterfly Festival, 170617

June 17, 2017

Today I volunteered for the very first Butterfly Festival in Karnataka.

You can see the photos on my Flickr album

here

But amongst other things… This purple variety of the Passion Flower somehow seems to represent, to me, the intensity of passion in life…the force that often keeps us going. I had heard the interpretation of the parts of the pistil representing the Pandavas, and the many petals, the Kauravas. Today I also heard the mythology of the flower representing the Apostles of Christ. How many meanings we invest in these beauties!

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Doresanipalya Forest Research Station, Bangalore, Karnataka, 17 Jun ’17.

Jaipurdoddi trip, 110717

June 12, 2017

What started out as a plan with 3 people rapidly developed into an outing with 15 other people! It was a very enjoyable outing to Ragihalli and then to Jaipurdoddi.Here they all are, at the MCS (Mandatory Chai Stop) where the group meet each other.

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There was not much interaction as we were driving through the reserve forests of Ragihalli and then Jaipurdoddi; but we all stopped at the Ragihalli sheet rock

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The prehistoric dolmen, or burial site, can be seen. I often feel that even if I am not buried in this beautiful spot, my spirit is likely to be wandering around here!

Since there were two very young women, Akansha and Aadya, who were coming from quite far away (they were very punctual, too!) I woke up at 4 am to make

veN pongal

for everyone.

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I served it with that most healthy of foods…potato chips! Everyone enjoyed it, to my delight.

As we drove to Jaipurdoddi, the rampant granite quarrying caught my eye once again and I hoped that our petitions to the government are fruitful in checking the depradation of our hillsides.

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Brown-capped Pygmy Woodpecker

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We stopped several times before reaching the reserve forest, and at one place, this Oriental Garden Lizard was hoping to catch some sun in the cloudy weather.

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This particular tree, alone, at Jaipurdoddi, was replesendent in new foliage.

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As the monsoon clouds cleared (we still do not have adequate rainfall), I saw this strange cloud formation…seems like a ear in the sky!

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Tiny blue Evolvulus flowers grew along the ground.

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I photographed very few birds, leaving them to the DSLR bazookas.

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Here’s the Large Cuckooshrike:

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An Oriental Honey Buzzard, surveying the territory for prey:

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An Ashy Drongo:

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A Black-rumped Flameback, amongst the bushes:

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I call these two Spotted Owlets “Asleep” and “Awake”!

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Aadya, who sketches what she observes, made this drawing of the Spotted Owlet, calling it James Bond!

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This short stretch of the reserve forest is very scenic (with, alas, a terrible road!)

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The fleecy clouds and blue skies later dissolved into cloudy grey again.

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Everywhere, Pavetta indica (Indian pavetta) bushes were in full bloom.

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Here are some Vitex negundo (Medicinal nishad) flowers:

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We wound up near the tiny lake just beyond the forest stretch, full of muddy water after the rains.

I caught some of the others standing in the shade of a beautiful Banyan.

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Several butterflies kept all of us riveted for a while, watching and trying to capture them on camera.

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Common Leopard

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Yellow Pansy:

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Tawny Coster:

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Pioneer:

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Common Lime:

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Common Emigrant:

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I’m glad there are no dogs in the forest, or else Aadya and Akansha would have to stop for every one! Here they are petting one at a farmer’s home.

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We wound up with a thatte iddli brunch at Manjunath’s Ragihalli Fine Dining.

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eBird list from Ragihalli is

here

and the list from Jaipurdoddi is

here

Butterflies

Blues, various
Cerulean, Common
Coster, Tawny
Crimson Tip
Crow, Common
Eggfly, Danaid
Emigrant, Common
Emigrant, Mottled
Jezebel, Common
Lime. Common
Orange-tip, White
Pansy, Lemon
Pansy, Yellow
Rose, Common
Rose, Crimson
Tiger, Dark Blue
Tiger, Plain
Tiger, Striped
Yellow, Spotless Grass
Yellow, Three-spot Grass

Let me leave you with a “Leopard sighting”!

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June 8, 2017

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When the sky boils over
In shades of scudding grey
When the clouds talk loudly to each other
I wonder what they say?

Do they like to light up the place
Where they are around?
Do they decide upon the spot and then
Zap electricity to the ground?

Do they peal out with such loud thunder
To give us folks a jolt?
Perhaps they feel quite gleeful
When we jump at lightning bolts!

It’s quite easy to feel happiness
When it’s a fleecy, blue-sky cloud.
We feel much more overawed and quiet
When the cloud lights up, and cracks aloud.

The title refers to

an eponymous movie by Satyajit Ray

Bhoochakra gadde or Kandamool, being sold in Bangalore, 070617

June 8, 2017

I found an interesting root being sold on vendor’s cart.

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The scientific name, Manjula Desai tells me, is

Maerua oblongifolia

This belongs to the Capparaceae (Caper) family.

It’s called “bhoo chakra gadde” in Kannada, (it would be better translated as “bhoo shakkar gadde”…earth-sugar tuber”. I am not able to find the name in Tamil.

Here’s a video of a slice being smeared with lemon, dipped in sugar, and served:

Here’s another video, where the skillfully-carved slice is served without lemon or sugar:

Someone says it is from Haridwar.

here

is a scientific study of the DnA of this root.

By Subhashish Panigrahi – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=56546985

Could someone help with more information?

The beauty of the Baya Weavers: Shani Temple pond and Gulakmale lake, 030617

June 3, 2017

Email to the bngbirds egroup:

Hi everyone,

When Janhvi asked me if I would like to go along for the birdwatching outing of TCS, I gladly accepted…only to find that a grand total of two people comprised the group going with her! Since I’d met both Abhilash and Sushree before (and actually remembered doing so!) we set off, at the very reasonable hour of nearly 8am. Since we were going to observe the Baya Weavers nesting, we were not constrained to leave early.

Stopping for chai at Bannerghatta Circle,

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we drove through the Bannerghatta-Kaggalipura Road under blue skies and feathery, fair-weather clouds. The forest looked fresh and green, washed clean of the summer dust by the rains.

We stopped at the Shani Temple pond, just past the Bhutanahalli Reserve Forest.

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Though Google maps doesn’t even show a pond here, it’s a great place to bird in winter.

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and Baya Weavers nest in the Ficus tree next to the temple. There were nests in several stages of construction,

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and we spent a contented time watching the bright yellow males and the duller-feathered females, flying around between the reeds and the tree.

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Mating flies on Janhvi’s car.

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Since Prasanna was also coming to meet us at Gulakmale, we proceeded there, and once we took the right-hand turn to wards the lake, we took the right turn again, before Patil Parimala Industries, and met up near a temple which had several

hero stones .

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Prasanna had been there since 6.30am, and reported large numbers of Bayas on the maize fields, and nesting on the trees. But apart from seeing them, we also went up the path to the bank of the lake,

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where we spotted several waterfowl: Asian Openbills, Little Grebes, Grey and Purple Herons, Great and Little Cormorants…and several Black and Brahminy Kites soaring overhead.

The muddy bank was also a butterfly paradise, and for some time, we completely forgot the birds as we watched several butterflies (see list below) nectaring, mud-puddling, and basking in the sunshine. It was lovely to see the Blues with their wings open. How I wish I could live by drawing energy from the sun, nectar from tiny flowers, and nutrition directly from the soil! Oh well, I suppose it can’t be great to be snapped up by a passing bird! Most of the butterflies were obviously just-emerged, and with bright colours. The flow of the migrating Emigrants (at this time, aptly named!) continued across the road.

Common Crows

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Dark Blue Tiger

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Striped Tiger

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Tawny Coster

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I looked at several plants, including this Indian Sarasaparilla.

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We met up with two more people from TCS after a lot of to-ing and fro-ing as they struggled to find us in an unfamiliar place, While waiting for them at the Ashok Aarna residentiall layout, two Indian Grey Hornbills delighted us as they floated in and out.

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We then proceeded to the road alongside Gulakmale lake, where, on two date palms, we watched several more weavers, going about the business of building their homes, hoping that the ladies would approve. We walked down off the road, where we found White-rumped Munias,

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White-browed Bulbuls, and Tawny-bellied Babblers.

Between the Dharwad pedas I brought and the delicious alphonso mangoes that Janhvi brought from the organic farm she volunteers at, we had a fairly nice breakfast, and returned home well satisfied with our morning. A sighting of the common mongoose crossing the road set the seal on our happiness.

Birds:

The eBird list for the Shani Temple pond is

here

and for Gulakmale, is

here here

Looking forward to a nice Sunday as well,

Cheers, Deepa.

Half the year is gone..

May 31, 2017

It seems as if I was welcoming
The new year only yesterday…
Here I am, at the beginning
Of the sixth month.
Time seems to seep past me
Like a silent, wet flow
From a leaking tap
Rather than elapse
In clearly marked segments.
Time slowly settles
In deepening wrinkles on my face
In accumulated dust
In babies whom I cannot recognize
From my last visit.
It peeps at me from obituary columns.
It winks at me from old photographs.
It bewilders me and fogs my brain
When I stop thinking of what was,
And try to think of what will be.
The dim veil of the past,
The curtained future..
As I contemplate them,
Each second of the present
Slips away, forever, from me.

Gulakmale and Thotti Kallu (T K) Falls, 280517

May 29, 2017

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Sivakumar Mallya, Sudha Iyengar, Janhvi Vyas, Aadya Umesh, Suma Seshadri, Kavitha Umesh, Jayashree Govindarajan, Rishov Biswas, Ramaswamy G S, Padma Ramaswamy, and I, went to visit Gulakmale kere (lake) and T K Falls.

Because of the heavy rain,we started in cool, cloudy and misty weather. Here is the Champakadhama temple at Bannerghatta…an old temple that appears to be lost in the mists of time.

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The mist was everywhere.

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We first stopped at the small pond near the path to the Bhavani temple:

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Having spotted some Baya Weavers,

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We moved to Gulakmale kere,

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where we watched a colony of these birds on a date palm.

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Aadya faithfully documented all that she saw, and as usual, sketched, too. Here’s her sketch of the Baya Weavers’ nest:

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Even as they built their dwellings, a White-rumped Munia arrived to try and occupy them.

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Nature, as a teacher, gave me a geometry lesson.

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The sky slowly cleared

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We then went to T K Falls, where the water had been released due to heavy rain over the Suvarnamukhi river, resulting in a beautiful cascade:

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I took a video of the scene a little further downstream where we crossed to the Muniswara temple area:

Wildflowers were everywhere.

Cleome monophylla, Spindle Pod

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Tarenna asiatica, Asiatic Tarenna:

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Chinese lanter tree

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Hibiscus lobatus (very tiny)

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Grewia damine

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Cadaba fruticosa – Indian Cadaba

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I found a very good website to identify wildflowers,

here

There were plenty of birds, like the

Ashy Prinia on the Marsh Glory

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Cinereous Tit

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Coppersmith Barbets

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Purple-rumped Sunbird

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Southern Coucal

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Many butterflies delighted us.

Crimson Tip

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White Orange-tip

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Blue Tiger

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Plain Tiger on Stachytarpeta

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Common Crow

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Here are three pathologists, one senior banker and one Jobless Person:

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On the way back this beautiful Brahma bull (even though a little emaciated) looked majestic.

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Here we all are, about to tuck into brefus at Udupi Banashree on Bannerghatta Road

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Gulakmale bird list:

here

T K Falls

here

Butterfly list

Blues, various
Cerulean, Common
Crimson Tip
Crow, Common
Cupid, Plains
Emigrant, Common
Emigrant, Mottled
Gull, Common
Jezebel, Common
Leopard, Common
Orange-tip, White
Pansy, Lemon
Rose, Common
Rose, Crimson
Tiger, Blue
Tiger, Plain
Tiger, Striped
Yellow, Common Grass
Yellow, Spotless
Yellow, Three-Spot Grass

FB album

here

A life lesson and offer of help, Mysore trip, 240517

May 27, 2017

Everybody can dance…

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We must

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But if,during all that dancing, you get an acute abdomen,

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We can help

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This message comes to you from the

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And of course, from Anjana and me:

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