In the water, in the sun, Lalbagh, 090418

April 9, 2018

Put your head out of the water.
Get a bit of sun.
Try to get some breakfast…
Without becoming one!

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Lalbagh, 9 Apr ’18

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4th Sunday outing, March ’18, and bird census: Hoskote kere, 250318

March 27, 2018

Email to bngbirds egroup:

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I had been toying with the idea of making Hoskote kere the venue for the 4th Sunday outing, when the email from Swaroop and his team arrived, announcing the bird count there. That made the decision easy, and several of us gathered at 6.30am at the Gangamma temple on the bund of the lake.
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We had a good mix of experts and newbies, children and adults, binoculars and bazookas 😀

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Swaroop and his team

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sent us in several directions, to see what we could see, and document what we saw. The paths were as as follows:

Dipu K, et al: north west edge
Rajneesh Suvarna, et al: Raghavendra Talkies
Vinay Bharadwaj, et al: east edge
Ashwin Viswanathan. et al: west edge:
Deepa Mohan, et al: Meeting point plus south-west edge

I was happy to take the children from Om Shri School along, as part of the initiative to involve schools.I found the children very interested; they patiently learnt how to use my binoculars, used the scope often, and asked a lot of questions too. I was able to show them almost all the birds that we sighted, and the bird scope was used well!

I started off with group, looking at the woodland birds in the plant clutter on both sides of the road. As the mist slowly lifted, we walked down the path with the lake waters along both sides. I have never before been able to walk past the "isthmus" that juts out into the water; in fact, a couple of months ago, the lake was so brimful of water that birders could not go down at all, and had to be content with birding from the bund along the Gangamma temple.

Robins, sunbirds, prinias and others were pointed out but then we got a few Baillon's Crakes

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in the water hyacinth at water level, and most of us got busy clicking these usually skulky and shy birds, which will soon begin their migration.

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Garganeys

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But our "regulars"….the Spot-billed Pelicans, Little Grebes, Coots, and Herons (like this Grey Heron)

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kept us all occupied as we watched them. There were Black and Brahminy Kites in the air, joined by a lone Marsh Harrier, another winter visitor which was looking for prey. Rosy Pastors

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flew over the water and settled in the dry trees. We saw Barn Swallows,

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as well as the Red-rumped, Wire-tailed, and Streak-throated variety.

It was nice to see both kinds of Jacanas, Pheasant-tailed

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and Bronze-winged,

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in the lake; similarly, Yellow, Grey and White-browed Wagtails flew around. One "dip" was the Pied Kingfisher, but we spotted the Small Blue and the White-throated Kingfishers.

Glossy Ibis

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Blyth's Reed Warbler

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Schoolchildren, along with the teacher, using the scope and binoculars

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Our group

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The children of Om Shri School

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Sandpipers, too, made their appearance, flying around with their typical calls. We noted Egrets, both Intermediate and Small. Spot-billed Ducks and Garganeys flew over the water and settled down, and were quite easy to show to the children. In fact, I was wondering if the children, or the schoolmaster who accompanied them, could take so many names thrown at them at the same time! I know I would have found it difficult to remember. But their interest did not flag, and after a certain point, it was I who had to call them back to return. It is very satisfying to be able to show people a whole lot of birds on their first outing!

Ants

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Water cabbage, an acquatic plant:

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Line-up of many of my group:

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Valli and Janhvi helped me with the app and physical paper entries, and we had to catch up with the bird names every now and then, as each of us spotted different birds! It was nice to have a problem of plenty.

Fish caught at the lake is sold on the bund every morning.

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Children on the lake reaches

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An array of snacks, including Manoj's mom-made alu parathas, kept us going.

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Return we did, to a hearty breakfast provided by the Karnataka Forest Department (KFD).

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Some of the teams whose transects were further afield did not return for a while, but all of us were very satisfied birders that morning! It sometimes happens that some paths have less birds ( on a census/bird count, it's our duty just to record what see, whether the numbers are lower or higher) but it's a great feeling when everyone returns with a satisfactory count of species. One group sighted the Eurasian Wryneck, which is a new bird-sighting for this lake.

Thanks to Valli, I met Arun and his friend, from the Andamans, and they gave us insights into the birding scene where they come from.

Our grateful thanks to Swaroop and team who provided us a great opportunity to see the variety of birds that Hoskote kere has to offer. Swaroop, Praveen and Nagabhushana say that 126 species were sighted during the morning, by over 120 volunteers! A big thank you for providing this opportunity for the 4th Sunday outing.

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Fishing boats

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For the next few months, we will concentrate more on the resident birds in and around our city, and bid goodbye to our winter visitors.

The eBird checklist for my group is

here

Swaroop will provide the links to the other checklists.

I have put up my photographs (not by a DSLR camera, and not only birds…there is even a photo of some beautiful ants!) on my FB album,

here

Cheers, Deepa.

Art in commerce

March 23, 2018

I think it’s a human trait to introduce an aesthetic appeal into the most mundane tasks imaginable. Surely, one would not think twice about the peanuts one purchases from the pushcart vendors, whose paper cones are getting so slender that they may accommodate only a few groundnuts.

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But the very selection of those recycled papers for the cones, and their arrangement, is so attractive visually…a fine example of art in commerce!

Permits and permissions…

March 22, 2018

Permissions…
Are required only by humans.
The scholars, the researchers,
Those who need to get
Their field work done, their business transacted…
To get the data
That their study requires.
Do the birds, the animals,
The butterflies and insects,
Our feathered and furred fellow-beings on this Earth…
Do they not slip from one region to another,
Across states, countries and continents,
Without a visa or permit?
It’s only humankind which trammels itself
With documents,stops, and gates:
We are allowed here,and not allowed there,
As we struggle for access
And find it increasingly difficult
To move around on our own planet.
We snake through serpentine queues,
Fill up forms in triplicate,
Just to enter the territory
Of other human beings
Amongst whom we seem to find ourselves restricted,
Barred, or even banned for life.

A special outing, for special children. Ragihalli, 160318

March 16, 2018

Today (16th Mar, ’18), I took the children of

Snehadhara Foundation

for an outdoor/nature trip to Ragihalli. Was the trip worth it? Emphatically, yes! The children smelt some fruit, felt the texture of some leaves, got distracted by the butterflies…and took care of each other in the most heartwarming way.

The children had visited Lalbagh and Cubbon Park and wanted to go to “actual forest” as one of the more articulate children put it. Certainly, Ragihalli, in the Bannerghatta National Park, fit the bill!

We started from Snehadhara, in J P Nagar, at about 8 am,

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and though we navigated Bannerghatta Road quite well, the road deteriorated as we approached Ragihalli, and indeed, with road-laying work, the road was blocked at the village itself, about 3km short of Adavi Field Station.

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Nagesh, Dhanu, Shivanaja, and Akshath took care of us while we were there. Dhanu,

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whose father Manjunath runs the eatery in Ragihalli where we always stop for piping hot thatte iddli, is quite a keen birder himself, having Akshath as a senior in school, and being trained by him.The field station is willing to conduct bird walks in the area for those who are interested. I took the children from Pramiti School there last month, and so had no hesitation in taking the Snehadhara children there. (Though if I’d known about the road condition, I might have asked for two vans rather than a large bus.)

Our bus negotiated the drive-around with difficulty. It also happened that the area had no power since 5pm the previous day, so Nagesh, his brother Shivananja, and my other friend Akshath….all their phones were without charge, and unreachable.

However, we reached after a delay, and before Akshath took us for a walk, we had a little bit of loosening up and a game of “actions” under the large banyan tree.

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Our walk led us through the mulberry plants, and under large trees, to a rock formation where we sat peacefully,

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admiring the view over the hill ranges of the Bannerghatta National Park.

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Though humid, the cloudy weather enabled us to sit outdoors without worrying about the heat of the sun. We walked back to the field station, where the children had their lunch,

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and then slowly drove back from the scrub jungle of Ragihalli to the concrete jungle of Bangalore.

I showed some children and adults various wild flowers, put together in a tiny bouquet

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cultivated ones like this Pomegranate,

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Cotton

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plants, and some birds. The children definitely seemed to enjoy the outing. We got a few fresh mangoes,

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and I feasted on fresh, sweet tamarind from the trees. My personal delight was sighting a rare tree (Firmiana colorata,also called Coloured Sterculia, the last two photos of the album) on the way home through a route that bypassed Ragihalli (the actual village).

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Thank you to Snehadhara for providing me with this opportunity to interact with the children. Sunny temparaments like that of Aravind (always with a smile on his face, and so curious about my camera and binoculars!), and quiet personalities like Karthik’s were equally fascinating to watch. And…I found that Swetha was my neighbour! The teachers
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were so patient and loving with the children, and there was so much happiness in the air!

The cloudy weather ensured that the children did not tire, and it was a very enjoyable trip indeed.

My photos are up on my FB album

here

No…I didn’t click the birds or the butterflies…I was concentrating on the children this time!

On Monday, all going well, I will be taking the wheelchair-bound children (who could not do the Ragihalli walk) to the IIMB campus, where very different kinds of minds will meet, as IIMB kindly allows me to bring special children into an academically high-performance campus for the first time.

Bannerghatta National Park, Monthly Bird Survey, 100318

March 13, 2018

Since I was not able to go for the inaugurual (Feb ’18) monthly bird survey, I went to participate in the March survey.

The survey is across four ranges, Anekal, Bannerghatta, Harohalli and Kodigere, and will be held on the second Saturday of every month for a year, to give a holistic picture of bird life in the Bannerghatt National Park over the annual period.

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Birds of Karnataka, display board at Kalkere.

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Volunteers gathering for the survey

I got the Kalkere State Forest transect, BTL (Bannerghatta Transect Line) 1. My team-mates were:

Forest Guard Michael
Albert Ranjith
Byomakesh Palai
Pervez Younus

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Michael, Pervez,Byomakesh, Albert

We stopped every 10 minutes, took the GPS co-ordinates, and then moved on.

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The Kalkere State Forest was much more productive in terms of birds than I thought it would be, because the city has actually spread beyond this forest patch now.

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We passed some quarried rock, which gave a sad look to the landscape.

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However, the good thing was that the depressions had formed rock pools:

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Our trail was quite scenic, even if it was not heavy forest:

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However, the scrub forest was very interesting, and we got several birds. Here are some I managed to click.

Greater or Southern Coucal, drinking water at the edge of the rock pool:

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Oriental White-eye:

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Shikra:
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Green Bee-eater:

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Jerdon’s Bushlark:

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Black-winged Kite:

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Oriental Honey Buzzard:

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Indian Peafowl (this is a peacock in the glory of full breeding plumage):

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Vipin was our organizer for the Bannerghatta range, and I found him very sincere and hard-working. Here he is, taking notes with a forest guard:

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An excellent breakfast of iddli was provided midway through the transect:

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I did not restrict myself to observing only the birds; here are some other interesting beings:

Milkweed:
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Peninsular Rock Agama:

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Two unidentified but beautiful flowering plants:

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This was a tiny plant growing in the path!

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An un-id insect with huge eyes:

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A dragonfly:

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the Flame of the Forest, Butea monosperma, in full bloom:

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Tired, but mentally refreshed by the morning, and the beauty of the scrub forest

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I left for Mysore to take part in the Ranganathittu Bird Census the next morning.

The Flickr album of the survey is

here

and my FB album is

here

In defence of puns

March 7, 2018

It’s a generally accepted practice to groan when someone cracks a pun, and say, “That was awful”.

I wish to defend all punsters. To be able to think of that unexpected link between words quickly, and say it on the spur of the moment, risking being ridiculed for the pun, or not understood at all, takes a certain kind of facility with the language (or more, for multilingual puns).

So could we change this fashion of describing clever puns as “really bad” or “awful”? Yes, cleverness is not as good as kindness or knowledge, but punning is a unique ability which needs more appreciation and less scorn. This is for the many people who have contributed great puns across many fora on social media and in conversations I have had.

Eg. I’d posted a photo of someone using a lollipop to steady his camera; someone called it a lollipod, and another, a lolliprop.

I happen to enjoy puns very much and don’t like groaning when I hear one…I would rather say, “Oh, that’s a good one!”

Ragihalli with Pramiti School, 190218

February 19, 2018

I took 16 children from

Pramiti School

to

Adavi Field Station

AFS. Adavi Field Station, Onte Maren Doddi, Ragihalli (Post), Anekal(Taluk), Bengaluru, Karnataka 560083

Here’s the view of the beautiful rock formations of Bannerghatta National Park from the road:

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Anand and Mahesh were very helpful. The farmer, Shivananja, showed us around his land, talking about how they use cowdung as manure since it is plentifully available (leaf litter is not specifically composted here).

Here is Sushma, discussing composting with Shivananja, Anand and Mahesh, with little Varsha, who had a slight fever and did not go to school, listening:

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Nupura

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and Tarun

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kept meticulous notes. We were also shown around, and we really did go around the mulberry bush!

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We saw how the silkworms feed on the mulberry leaves

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Mulberries when ripe are very sweet to eat, but it was not yet the season for them.

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Shivananja showed us one local variety of mulberry, not favoured now as the leaves are smaller and the foliage less dense.

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Here’s one worm, growing fat (the worms eat voraciously, growing many times in size, before pupating)

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Here is the pupa of the silkworm; the pupae are boiled alive to extract the silk.

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The farmers sell the live pupae, which are plucked from the palm-frond frames, directly. The boiling and reeling are done later. Here is a video I took long ago, of the stinking silk waste being picked up by Brahminy Kites:

The children settled down for the packed lunch that had been brought:

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The stuffed parathas were tasty.

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We returned back to the waiting van

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You can see the rest of the album

here

The highlights, for me, were spotting an old friend, Ashwath (second from left)

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a Black Eagle

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and a sports-car-bus:

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Periods and pads…

February 12, 2018

There is much adulation of the movie,

click here to watch the trailer

“Padman”

which is based on the achievements of

Muruganatham

who has given a TED talk about what he did for his wife.

However, I also received, on my wellness egroup, the link to a blogpost with a different point of view, very interesting, read it

Ma href=”https://mythrispeaks.wordpress.com/2018/02/09/padman-the-real-story-of-how-he-shot-to-fame-by-sehttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arunachalam_Murugananthamlling-shame/”&gt; here

I am not for the fictionalization and/or glorification of anyone while that person is living. When some time has elapsed, one gets a better perspective about who the person was, and what that person achieved, or failed to. In this sense, I think making a commercial movie about something which has not yet been tried and tested enough was not a wise thing to do. However, this is only my opinion.

But I am not wriring about that topic; I just want to share my own experience with my periods.I hate to share this, but I think I should. (My way of dealing with it was to try and expunge it from my mind once I reached menopause…but as you can see, the memories have not left me).

I grew up (and “grew up” at the age of 12, in 1966) in a large city, but had to manage with cloth, and it was messy, smelly, uncomfotable-to-painful, and very embarassing. Sanitary napkins were available, but my mother, thinking they were not a good solution, did not buy them for me until a couple of years later. My cousins in Chennai, and in the smaller towns of Tamil Nadu, also managed with cloth; we had to use discarded cloth, too. The menstrual period was truly a curse, and yes, it was the lack of proper protection as much as cramps that made me detest going to school and then college on “those days”.Even sanitary napkins did not have plastic shields in those days, and were made of cotton which could lump together, especially in hot, humid weather.

Since we were “exiled” to the back of our (then) large houses and given food only after the rest of the household had eaten, and were not allowed to touch anyone or go out, I was told by my cousins in Chennai, Madurai and other towns, to use medications like Primolut-N. We were made to feel, and felt, unclean and impure. I have heard my uncles use the phrase “kasappu kadai” (butcher’s shop) to indicate that someone had her period. “Not at home” and “far away”, denoting the way we were made to stay at the back of the house or in villages, in the cowsheds outside the house, show the “reverence” that we got.

https://www.dokteronline.com/en/primolut-n

to delay the period for a few days. Every single cousin I knew who used this had her first pregnancy miscarry; I do not have enough data to know if this was just a coincidence. I cannot draw any inference from seven cases.

I attained menopause (with huge relief, and no other problems such as excessive bleeding or fibroids) at the age of 42, 21 years ago. (A fairly active lifestyle has, luckily, kept me in good health.)So I am not aware of what sanitary napkins are made of these days. When my grandchildren were born, we used cloth nappies as I was taking care of them 24/7; I didn’t like the idea of disposable nappies for many reasons, and I stitched pieces of soft, old dhotis for this purpose. We had to use the occasional disposable nappy, of course. But I was already reading about fires iin landfills in St.Louis, where my daughter lived (she used reusable pads) so we cut down on disposable nappies as much as we could.

The studies cited in the blogpost seem quite extensive and fact-based, but the point I am trying to make is, the use of cloth may not be related to health problems, but it is certainly related to a big factor of discomfort and embarassment…which, if the write-up is true, the “pad” does nothing to alleviate.

How comforable and secure is the cup? I have been doing a bit of reading about it, and I do feel there may be instances where it may not be suitable, or it may take a while to find the right one.

https://menstrualcupreviews.net/menstrual-cup-dangers/

I’m sorry, but I disagree with the writer’s statement about traditional women showing us “how mensturation should be revered , how the first period should be celebrated”. We were treated as outcastes during our periods, and given no consideration in the matter of food. Mensturation was not revered, it was a matter of shame and withdrawal. Most mothers would not tell their daughters about it in advance…my mother did not mention it, and at first, I thought that I was badly hurt. (I have no sisters, and no cousin talked to me about this, either).I still cringe when I think of the child I was, and my ignorance about my own body. Ignorance is not innocence.

I have hated every period that I had, the very painful (epidurals were not given those days) process of childbirth, the mood swings,the awful cramping, and the bloating. My reproductive system shutting down was , to me, one of the best things that happened, especially because it was rather early.

I am not taking any stances here, simply saying that menstruation is a very tough process that most women handle by themselves, or at least, used to before they could look for information on the net in the privacy of their homes or phones.

Sorry for the sombre post. But most of you on this egroup are young, and I just wanted to depict how things were, a few decades ago, in metropolitan cities and towns (not villages).

Muthanallur Lake, 110218

February 11, 2018

Is it not an irony
That the fertilizer used in the field
(Where rose bushes are dotted with blooms)
Reeks of garlic?
And that the field of roses
Is right next to a pig farm
Where the snorting of the porcines
Drowns out any poetic thoughts
I may have about the flowers?
Or is this the way the world is,
The mundane existing with the rare,
The bad with the good, the lovely with the ugly?
I walk on, reflecting on the concepts
Of aesthetics, and what makes me think
Some things are appealing, and others, not.