Archive for April, 2014

Quick visit to Hulimangala, 300414

April 30, 2014

On the spur of the moment, my friend Rosita Sequiera came by with her son Mark and picked me up, and off we went; I wanted to show her the magnificient trees of Hulimangala.

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She’d brought some nice tea in that flask!

We started the evening with a beautiful

SHORT-TOED SNAKE EAGLE

soaring above:

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<lj-cut text="a little more if you have the inclination…."

One of these

RED-WHISKERED BULBULS

was dancing around on the barbed wire, for all the world like a Fantail!

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Mark, who’s done well in his exams, was all smiles:

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I took Rosita down the avenue of the wonderful giants, which feels like a cathedral to me:

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Everywhere on the tall trees there were beehives, and I clicked one under construction:

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The sun behind the clouds was an amazing sight, and I could not stop clicking the Fingers of God:

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Though the lake nearby was nearly dry, it had a beauty of its own:

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The figs on the Banyan tree were an invitation for many birds:

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You can see how beautiful is the camouflage of the

ROSE-RINGED PARAKEET

with its body against the leaves, and its beak against the figs:

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These two majestic Ficus trees are my landmark to turn off on the road to Hulimangala:

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We sighted the Mottled Wood Owl, too, being chased around by the Mynas, then the Parakeets, and then the Kites!

The bird list:

Bee-eater, Small Green
Bulbul, Red-vented
Bulbul, Red-whiskered
Bulbul, White-browed
Bushchat, Pied
Cormorant, Little
Crow, House
Crow, Jungle
Dove, Spotted
Drongo, Ashy
Eagle, Short-toed Snake
Egret, Intermediate
Egret, Little
Heron, Indian Pond
Kite, Black
Kite, Brahminy
Koel, Asian
Lapwing, Red-wattled
Myna, Common
Myna, Jungle
Owl, Mottled Wood
Stork, Painted
Swallow, Red-rumped
Oriole, Eurasian Golden
Prinia, Ashy
Robin, Indian
Warbler, Un id
Woodswallow, Ashy

You can see the other photos on my FB album if you click

here

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tErE mEre sapnE ab Ek rang hain

April 30, 2014

One of my favourite melodious songs, from the movie

Guide

made based on

novel by R K Narayanan

This song seems a happy one…. but there’s an underlying current of sadness in it…as “Rosie” is already moving on from the relationship that “Raju” has fought the world and given up a lot for. No matter that R K Narayanan hated this picturization of his novel. It is a haunting movie, with wonderful songs, showing the fleeting nature of love…especially in “forbidden” relationships.

She turned five…

April 30, 2014

Yesterday, April 29th, was the day Eli/Biddli/Boodi Ma/Beedool turned five.

a bdi fry

She loves dressing up and is quite the girly girl. Her especial favourites are “sparkly shoes”…she seems to have got a new pair for this birthday!

Her paternal grandparents were there to wish her and cherish her…well, I can’t complain, I’ll be there, too, in the course of time!

Happy birthday, my dear angel fairy, may magic dust touch you all your life.

Hatworks Boulevard, Cunningham Road, Bangalore, 140414

April 28, 2014

Since my friend Uma is shortly to relocate, we decided to meet up and do some gallivanting as well, and almost at random, wound up at

Hatworks Boulevard

Here’s the bungalow, with a vintage car to go with it (it’s a Morris Minor):

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Imagine the innocence of the days when that was the height of a surrounding wall!

Here are my friends, in the yard of the beautiful bungalow:

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One of the ladies working in a plant shop helped us with the photos:

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The windows are old-style; a glass shutter inside and a wooden one outside.

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Here’s the detail of the building, and the old way of having large trees shading the structure:

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The beauty of the “monkey-top”, an ornamentation typical of Old Bangalore:

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Alas, the only way these bungalows can be maintained, apparently, is by cutting them up into business establishments.

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The mosaic tiles were so beautiful:

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I could not gauge if this porch ornamentation was recent or old

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I found this old mechanical gadget on display:

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The beautiful teak cabinet in which it was:

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Beauty often resides in the warmth of the smile.

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All of us had a great time wandering through the old building, and came back to the present with some yummy street food…a great evening, spent with some great friends.

For more photos of the evening, including the first school for “native” women in Bangalore,

click here

Semma Kadi (PJ’s in Tamizh)

April 28, 2014

Untranslatable, so I am leaving them as they are….

Nama adicha athu mottai,
Athuva vilundha athu sottai!

‘Dye’ na mandayila podurathu,
‘Die’ na mandaya podurathu

Thannikulla kappal pona jolly…
Kappalkulla thanni pona gali…
elephant mela namma ukandha savari
elephant namma mela okandha oppari!!!!

Running racela kaal evalavu vegama odinaalum, !
Pri​z​e kaikuthaan kedaikkum!!

Sodava fridgela vacha cooling soda aagum, Athukkaaga atha washing
machinela vac​​ha washing soda aagumaa!!

kovil maniya namma adicha saththam varum…
aana kovil mani nammala adicha raththam than varum….

South India-la Narthangai kidaikkum.
Aaana, North India-la Southangai kidaikuma?

Pant Pottu Muttipoda mudiyum aanaaa
muttipottu pant poda mudiyumaa………..

Today’s punch:
Thanneera Thanninnu sollalaam
Panneera panninnu solla mudiyuma?

The Rock Eagle Owls of NICE Road, Bangalore, Karnataka, 260414

April 27, 2014

I’ve always been drawn to owls, and the

ROCK EAGLE OWL

also called the Indian Eagle Owl, has been one of my favourites; I’ve sighted it at Bannerghatta, Turahalli, and at various other locations.

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For the past few years, we’ve been watching some of these majestic birds making their home on the rocky outcrops of the highway built by Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprises (NICE), around Bangalore.

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As we were returning from our trip to Sakleshpur, where we did a bird census for a coffee estate (a very satisfying assignment, more about it later!) we decided we would detour on to this toll road and try our luck with the owls. And we were rewarded for our efforts!

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The Rock Eagle Owls were earlier treated as a subspecies of the Eurasian Eagle-Owl (Bubo bubo) but are now considered as separate.

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The wiki says, “They are seen in scrub and light to medium forests but are especially seen near rocky places within the mainland of the Indian Subcontinent south of the Himalayas and below 5000 feet elevation.

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“Humid evergreen forest and extremely arid areas are avoided. Bush-covered rocky hillocks and ravines, and steep banks of rivers and streams are favourite haunts.

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Here’s a view of the habitat…can you see one of the Owls here?

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I zoomed in further:

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and some more, to show the excellent camouflage when the bird’s head is turned away, and those amazing eyes are not visible:

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Here, one eye is visible:

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“The nesting season is November to April. The eggs number three to four and are creamy white, broad roundish ovals with a smooth texture. They are laid on bare soil in a natural recess in an earth bank, on the ledge of a cliff, or under the shelter of a bush on level ground. The nest site is reused each year. The eggs hatch after about 33 days and the chicks are dependent on their parents for nearly six months.”

They were quite enjoying the breeze, closing their eyes and letting their feathers ruffle:

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Nowhere is the usefulness of a good zoom illustrated more in the ability to “approach” these birds while keeping one’s distance. Here are the lesser and higher zoom images:

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“It spends the day under the shelter of a bush or rocky projection, or in a large mango or similar thickly foliaged tree near villages.”

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Their diet seems to be very varied: “Their diet through much of the year consists of rodents, but birds seem to be mainly taken towards winter. Prey species of birds include partridges, doves, Indian Roller,the Shikra and the Spotted Owlet. Birds the size of a peacock are sometimes attacked; Bats were also preyed on, and mammals the size of a Black-naped hare may be taken.” As if to bear this out, we saw several Peafowl on the fence nearby, and squirrels scampering around the area.

Alas, all is not well in the world of the Owls. The Wiki notes:” Like many other large owls, these are considered birds of ill omen. Their deep haunting calls if delivered from atop a house are considered to forebode the death of an occupant. A number of rituals involving the capture and killing of these birds have been recorded. Salim Ali notes a wide range of superstitions related to them but notes two as being particularly widespread. One is that if the bird is starved for a few days and beaten, it would speak like a human, predicting the future of the tormentor or bringing them wealth while the other involves the killing of the bird to find a lucky bone that moved against the current like a snake when dropped into a stream. Belief in these superstitions has led to the persecution of the species in many areas by tribal hunters. The capture of these birds is illegal under Indian law but an underground market continues to drive poaching.”

It is sad that superstition seems to rule the life prospects of these beautiful birds…and another matter of concern with the owls shown here is the rampant construction going on in the area where the Owls are.

But as of now, the birds seem to be holding their own. I do hope the Rock Eagle Owls of the NICE Road remain, sentinels of our urban wildlife, for a long time to come!

Here’s a video of two of the birds, and the rocky habitat:

Should you go to the NICE Road to sight these birds, please keep your distance from them, and use a good pair of binoculars or good zoom lenses to observe and document them. They are under enough threat from urban development, let us not add to the difficulties of their survival! Also, remember that you are on a highway, so keep the car moving slowly. If you stop the car and get out…be quick, and be careful..remember that on the highway, you yourself are at risk!

Four videos from Valparai

April 23, 2014

I got the Orange-headed Thrush singing:

The Dusky Striped Squirrel calling:

The Grey Junglefowl, and his harem, strolling.

And….he life-giving summer rain falling:

Lion-tailed Macaques, Valparai, 18-200414

April 23, 2014

On Good Friday, Anjali, Gopal, Rohan, Tharangini, Yeshoda and I went to

Valparai

in the aNNAmalai range (Coimbatore district) in Tamil Nadu.

The

LION-TAILED MACAQUE

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was one of the several creatures we hoped to see on our trip to Valparai. The lion-tailed macaque (Macaca silenus), or the wanderoo, is an Old World monkey endemic to the Western Ghats of South India.

The hair of the lion-tailed macaque is black. Its outstanding characteristic is the silver-white mane which surrounds the head from the cheeks down to its chin, which gives this monkey its German name Bartaffe – “beard ape”

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it lives in hierarchical groups of usually 10 to 20 animals, which consist of few males and many females. It is a territorial animal, defending its area first with loud cries towards the invading troops.

It primarily eats indigenous fruits, leaves, buds, insects and small vertebrates in virgin forest, but can adapt to rapid environmental change in areas of massive selective logging through behavioural modifications and broadening of food choices to include fruits, seeds, shoots, pith, flowers, cones, mesocarp, and other parts of many nonindigenous and pioneer plants.

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The lion-tailed macaque ranks among the rarest and most threatened primates. Their range has become increasingly isolated and fragmented by the spread of agriculture and tea, coffee, teak and cinchona, construction of water reservoirs for irrigation and power generation, and human settlements to support such activities. They did not, in the past live, feed or travel through plantations, but this behaviour has changed.

Destruction of their habitat and their avoidance of human proximity have led to the drastic decrease of their population.

Here’s one swinging about on the wire:

It then proceeds to lick the raindrops off the leaves of the plant:

I loved watching this mother and child:

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Gestation is approximately six months. The young are nursed for one year. Sexual maturity is reached at four years for females, and six years for males. The life expectancy in the wild is approximately 20 years

Here’s a small, funny incident as a macaque jumps up as something bothers it, and starts running away:

Here’s one eating the seeds from the seed pod of the Spathodea (African Tulip), which is an exotic tree:

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I took a little more…

This troop of Macaques did forage and travel through the coffee plantation. They did not disturb us, and we did not disturb them.

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Here are a group, enjoying themselves (yes, that’s what I feel!) in the evening:

Bannerghata zoo area with Chandu, and David Frye, 120414

April 17, 2014

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David Frye (seen here, posing with all the wildlife on sale at the Zoo) is a birder from Detroit, and the previous week we had taken him to Hoskote Lake. We had a good time, too!

In the zoo, we hunted for this

GREAT PIED HORNBILL

all over the cage, and finally found him right next to us, huddling in the corner of the cage (not distressed at all!) and looking at us with a beady eye.

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We saw a

JUNGLE MYNA

trying, literally, to feather its nest:

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This

TICKELL’S BLUE FLYCATCHER

deighted us:

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The

GULMOHAR or the MAYFLOWER

had started blooming:

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The flowers of the

RAIN TREE

looked lovely, too.

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The Kingfisher Pond (I was very happy to hear the guard in charge of boating call it by this name, and say, “A naturalist has named it!”) looked green and peaceful:

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Here’s David, documenting something:

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I couldn’t id this tree:

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the

QUEEN’S FLOWER

is another tree in full bloom everywhere now:

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A

GARDEN LIZARD

displayed its scales:

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Chandu and David walk down Flycatcher Avenue:

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See the beauty of Flycatcher Avenue:

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This is the only SMS I could get of the

GREY-BELLIED CUCKOO:

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This

PALE-BILLED FLOWERPECKER

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looked quite greedy as it took a whole Singapore Cherry in its mouth (but it only sucked at the juice and threw the fruit down.)

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this

PADDYFIELD PIPIT

foraged along the path to the Quarry Pond area:

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perky little bird:

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the

RED-WATTLED LAPWING

made its characteristic “Didyoudoit?” call:

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It was lovely to see the Champaka Dhama temple on top of the sheet rock, from the orchard area:

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a

PENINSULAR ROCK AGAMA (male)

showed its breeding colours:

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This is a very non-green “green” photograph, of broken glass litter left behind by visitors:

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Some of the animals on sale were very realistic!

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We saw these two, with a net and a cage, and we hope they wer
e not going to catch butterflies, because that is illegal:

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Everywhere, the

DARK BLUE TIGERs

were flitting around, on their annual migration:

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David appeared to enjoy his morning, and we gave him a really democratic experience..we took him from my home to the zoo area by one rickety bus and brought him back in an even more rickety one!

Let me close with this close-up of the Queen’s Flower:

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Am mad about Am….

April 15, 2014

Mangifera Indica-Summer in India

When you’re facing the summer sun
When your skin burns and it’s no fun
To walk in the sunshine, it’s too bright
The summer glare hurts your head and sight…
You’ve got mangoes on your mind….

You pick up the fruit, scattered all round
Or in the market they can be found.
Small and raw, or with golden ripe sheen
Or any of the stages that happen in between,
You’ve got mangoes on your mind….

Made into pickle or eaten with salt
Made into milkshakes or a thick juicy malt
Any of the numerous varieties you get
To crunch, or down your throat the smooth fruit you let
You’ve got mangoes on your mind….

Other times of the year, you may not really see
The beautiful leaves, the bark of this tree
But when the fruit in bunches is hung
About the mangoes paeans are sung!
You’ve got mangoes on your mind….

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Summer is awful, hot and sticky,
About many fruits you’re choosy and picky:
But when it comes to the King, mango…
Into transports of delight you go…
You’ve got mangoes on your mind!

here

are pickles

and

here

is the fruit

Oh, this wonderful delectation…I am an Am aurat, and I am certainly an “Am Admi Paati”!