Archive for December, 2014

kolE basavA, 281214

December 29, 2014

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Plant and Insect Walk, Arikere Reserve Forest, 281214

December 29, 2014

On Sunday, wanted a walk but not a long or very bird-focused one, so I decided on a plant/tree/insects walk in the Arikere Reserve Forest, and it was very nice indeed, because a very knowledgeable and enthusisastic group came all the way from R T Nagar! Thanks to Achyuthan, Aditi, Ansu, Ganesh, Janani, Jayesh, Maryam, and Shahram. I also had my friends Rewati, and her son, the young insect expert Pranav…and Prem Garg joined us a little later, a birding trip of his having fallen through.

L to R: Maryam, Shahram, Aditi, Jayesh, Achyuthan, Ganesh, Janani,Ansu and Rachna (Neelu)

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It was a walk where all of us pitched in with what we knew..and it wasn’t even a walk, it was a slow inching forward, looking around and down, instead of the “up” of a birding trail.

Someone (well, the Forest Department..the blue/green boards are theirs1) has gone to town with the slogans, nailing them to the trees…this seemed especially meant for me and the other camera-toters:

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Ganesh and Janani started off identifying the

madhunAshini creeper

which I had seen earlier on my

Banavasi visit

Here’s the creeper:

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(er, the creeper is on the right)

Ganesh showed us the Simarouba tree and sent us
this link

to Dr Joshi’w work on its cancer-curing properties.

and Janani and Ganesh are offering us honey to compare the before-and-after-chewing-the-leaf tastes:

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I wonder if we can find the other plant in my Banavasi post…the Kattuka Rani, here, too!

Janani keeps a meticulous, well-drawn field trip record:

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(er, by the way..this is MY field trip record!)

She often conducts an initiative called GreenConnect, where she gets groups of people to connect to trees. Here she is, with the children, enjoying one accommodating tree:

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Other things caught our attention too. Here’s a Dragonfly, the

RUDDY MARSH SKIMMER:

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Pranav was excellent at putting little creatures into the “bug box” for observation, for a while, and then releasing them. He got this beautiful spider, with a little silk still attached to her spinerets….

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then it was replaced by a little cockroach, probably one that is in the fields and not our domestic (yeuughh) one to which my love of wildlife does not extend.

We saw this dry-season form

EVENING BROWN

(thank you, Nagraj Veerasami, for confirming the id)

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looking for all the world like a dry leaf.

This

TINY GRASS BLUE

(thanks to Rohit Girotra for telling me which Blue it was)

was so very difficult to see in the grass…such a tiny beauty!

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There was a

COMMON PIERROT

too.

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We heard a huge racket from the Eucalyptus trees and found these

BLACK KITES

mating and also bringing materials to start building their nest.

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Rewati did the bird spotting (I was literally jobless on this walk!) first, a Shikra and then this beautiful

GREATER COUCAL:

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I felt this was a very apt description of us humans:

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We had to leave early as Neelu had to pack and catch the train back to Chennai, and on the way out, I was able to spot this exquisite

Scoliid wasp

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We then met up with Rajesh (Neelu’s, Rajesh’s and my parents lived in the same apartment building in Chennai and that was the origin of our friendship!)….and had breakfast which included this yard-long

PAPER DOSA:

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Rajesh then gave Neelu a ride on his supercool wheels, and she was thrilled!

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My FB album is

here

Other things I enjoyed on the Gulakmale trip, 271214

December 29, 2014

As we climbed to the tank bund, I saw these puppies rolling around in the gutter. They were squealing and rolling around! One looked up at me curiously as I clicked.

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It was very funny to see four boys trying to ride on a cycle; as they turned the bend, the chain on the cycle came off!

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Loved the Plumeria (Frangipani) flowers, against the sky:

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This Sampige tree had lovely blossoms:

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The Marsh Glory (Ipomaeia sp.) is a plant that grows wild, but the flowers are beautiful!

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I noticed these ants farming their aphids on the grass stalks.

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I decided to take a close up of a beehive…it was, literally, swarming with them!

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This beautfiul butterfly caught my eye.

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As we returned home I took the snap of the two gopuras of the Champakadhama temple at Bannerghatta.

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As we had breakfast at a darshini (Prabha Upahara) at Bannerghatta Circle, I noticed this monkey with some bright fabric. For some reason, other monkeys wanted it too, and a lively fight ensued! Talk about monkey business!

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If you are sure of a meal, you can be ….certifed:

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Hope you enjoyed this snippets, too!

Purple Umbrella, one, not as per request. 251214

December 28, 2014

The Reindeer’s grandfather was visiting Cochin, so her mother asked for an ethnic umbrella (The Reindeer specified purple.)

The Thatha conveyed the request as one for an ordinary purple umbrella, on his return to Bangalore, to the Paati Animal. She got The Reindeer an exquisite Made in China (but *purple*) umbrella. Reindeer was apparently delighted.

Her mother’s 1989 Disney World name-painted-on umbrella was also sent. I bet they will not have any handy on the next rainy day….

boodi umbrla

Christmas Day. Portland, Maine, 251214.

Gulakmale/Thottikallu trip, 281214

December 28, 2014

Email to bngbirds egroup:

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I decided on Gulakmale as a birding destination as I have not been there for a long while now, for Saturday, the 27th December, 2014, and it proved to be a very good decision. The group this time was a small one, consisting of Chandan, Gayatri, Job, Mani, Prem and myself.

We took the Bannerghatta-Kaggalipura Road route, and though initially, it was rather quiet, we did start off our birding “accounts” with a sighting of a female Kestrel, which usually targets the pigeons that sit on the Ai Matha temple that is at the beginning of the road.

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Black Kites building a “powerful” nest.

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We fanned out at Gulakmale kere,

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noticing that much of the scrub land facing the kere has been cleared and is now a budding residential layout, as is happening at many other places, including Turahalli.

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The lake was not full, but there was enough water for fishers, divers and waders…and we were very happy to watch the different methods of getting bird-breakfast. Surprisingly, we did not see any Coots or Grebes…or any ducks, not even the more common Spot-billed ones. Many Asian Openbills were present,

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and we observed that different parts of the kere seemed to be earmarked for different birds…the Openbills in one area, the Cormorants in another, and the Brahminy and Common Kites floated in the air above, occasionally swooping down with varying degrees of success. Two Pied Kingfishers,

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too, seemed to have divided up the water into two parts to fish in, and it was a delight to see them hovering intently and then suddenly zooming vertically into the water.

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Two varieties of Sandpiper, and some Little Ringed Plovers, wandered along the water’s edge, as did one Yellow Wagtail.

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When we had looked (and clicked) to our hearts’ content, we went further down the road, to the Thottikallu Falls (TK Falls) area,

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and walked from the end of the road, past the Thottikallu Muniswara temple

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(where the blood of sacrificed chickens was still staining the granite flagstones).

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Warblers, a Flameback, and Paradise Flycatchers rewarded us, amongst other birds. Some raptors sightings, and the resultant debate on id’s, kept us busy…and happy. A Grey Wagtail played Narcissus at the edge of the water.

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While we were certainly not “tick-birding”, a species count of 80+ at the end of the outing was indeed satisfying!

The stream is very sparse at this time of the year, and some beautiful, bright green algae decorated the stones near the temple.

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It was sad to see the area so full of trash. Why must temple rituals now mean the thoughtless littering of the place? Cleanliness is definitely not next to godliness in our country.

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The third Sunday of January will of course, be the non-competitive (and still fun to me!) Bangalore Bird Race. But if I am to volunteer for the February 3rd Sunday outing, I’ll be glad to go with everyone to Gulakmale!

Many thanks to Praveen J and Amith Kumar who invariably help with the id’ing, especially when our descriptions and shots may not be very clear!

My ​photos from the trip are on my FB album at

https://www.facebook.com/deemopahan/media_set?set=a.10152662825183878.1073742323.587058877&type=3

Next up, a very enjoyable plant, tree and insect walk which some of us did in the Arikere Reserve Forest this morning (Sunday, 28th Dec 2014), with everyone, from Ganesh and Janani, to 6-year old Pranav, chipping in with information! I am hoping that the egroup continuesto be fordescribing all kinds of nature trails and not just birds 😀

Cheers, Deepa.

​

Birds:

​​Avadavat, Red
Babbler, Jungle
Babbler, Yellow-billed
Barbet, Coppersmith
Barbet, White-cheeked
Bee-eater, Green

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Bulbul, Red-vented
Bulbul, Red-whiskered
Bulbul, White-browed
Bushchat, Pied
Bushlark, Indian

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Bushlark, Jerdon’s
Cisticola, Zitting
Cormorant, Great
Cormorant, Indian
Cormorant, Little

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Coucal, Greater
Crow, House
Crow, Jungle
Dove, Laughing
Dove, Spotted
Drongo, Ashy
Drongo, Black
Drongo, White-bellied

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​Eagle, Booted
Eagle, Short-toed Snake
Eagle, Tawny
Egret, Cattle
Egret, Intermediate

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Egret, Little
Egret, Great
Flameback, Black-rumped
Flowerpecker, Pale-billed
Flycatcher, Asian Brown
Flycatcher, Asian Paradise
Flycatcher, White-browed Fantail
Francolin, Grey (heard)
Heron, Grey
Heron, Indian Pond
Heron, Purple
Honey-buzzard, Oriental
Hoopoe, Indian (Prem)
Iora, Common
Kestrel, Common
Kingfisher, Pied

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Kingfisher, White-throated
Kite, Black
Kite, Brahminy

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Koel, Asian
Lark, Ashy-crowned Sparro
Leafbird, Golden-fronted
Martin, Dusky Crag
Minivet, Small
Munia, Tricoloured
Myna, Common
Myna, Jungle
Openbill, Asian
Oriole, Black-hooded
Oriole, Black-naped
Oriole, Eurasian Golden
Parakeet, Rose-ringed
Pigeon, Blue Rock
Pipit, Paddyfield
Plover, Little Ringed

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Prinia, Ashy
Robin, Indian

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Robin, Oriental Magpie
Sandpiper, Green
Sandpiper, Wood
​Shrike, Bay-backed
Shrike, Long-tailed

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Silverbill, Indian
Sparrow, House
Sunbird, Purple
Sunbird, Purple-rumped
Swallow, Barn
Swallow, Red-rumped
Swallow, Wire-tailed
Swift, House (?)
Tailorbird, Common
Tern, River

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Tit, Great
Wagtail, Grey

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Wagtail, White-browed
Wagtail, Yellow

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Warbler, Blyth’s Reed
Warbler, Booted
Warbler, Clamorous Reed
Warbler, Greenish Leaf
Waterhen, White-breasted
Woodswallow, Ashy

Butterflies:

Blues, Various
Castor, Common
Cerulean, Common
Coster, Tawny
Emigrant, Common
Four-ring, Common
Gull, Common
Jezebel, Common
Orange-tip, White
Orange-tip, Yellow
Pioneer
Rose, Common
Rose, Crimson
Tiger, Plain
Wanderer, Indian
Yellow, Three-spot Grass

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Let me close with this sylvan image of Thottikallu Falls:

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The last few leaves…..

December 25, 2014

I tear off the leaf of my daily calendar.It’s a habit that’s a long-standing one… for many years, I always asked my sister in law, to buy a “rANi mutthu” daily calendar for me (I was superstitious..the 2 years that I bought one for myself, I lost my parents, and then again, once, when I did this, I lost my brother. Now, I’ve lost a lot, including the superstition, and I buy my own.)

At the start of the year, it’s a fat, thick wad of papers. It represents the future..unknown, yet to be experienced. There are hopes, there are fears. There is speculation on what may come to pass…or not.

Then, the leaves slowly start dropping. No, it’s not fall, it’s just the daily tear-off.

This year, there was a big hiatus from June to November. I came back from a visit to Scandinavia and the US, and tore off a huge chunk of the future-that-had-turned-into-the-past.Since then, it’s been pretty much a leaf a day, except the visit to Delhi which lasted a week. (I should have got my sis in law a calendar when I went, but it hadn’t come on sale yet.)

Now, the piece of cardboard has just a few leaves…dates….attached. Detachment…when I detach the leaves from the calendar, why don’t I also practice another kind of detachment? I should let the past go. Missing my grandchildren so intensely that it hurts…missing things from a past life that will never return…why do I allow these unprofitable thoughts? Attachment must drop from me, as the leaves do when I pull them off the calendar.

I will go out in a day or two, and get another calendar. Soon, it will be time for this baby-fat Murugan to go to the recycling, while another one will smile at me, over another stuck-together-with-cloth-and-gum pile of 365 small sheets of paper, that tell me the date according to the English and Tamizh calendars, tell me the auspicious and inauspicious times of the day, the “star” of the day, the time of the lunar month, and mention which south Indian temple has what festival….and also what festival it is for several other religions, as well as leaders’ birthdays and national holidays and Hindu festivals. For example, today it has the picture of C Rajagopolachari whose birthday it is, and a Santa with balloons to denote Christmas.

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My daily calendar…an unobtrusive yet essential part of my daily life. Tearing a page off usually means that twenty-four hours have gone by. What have I achieved? What have I thought? How have I treated others? I do not always introspect…but I am doing so now, when there are just a few leaves left.

Let me muse on the way this year has gone, as time creeps past, and the leaves fall from my mind, and my life, as well as from my calendar….

Al Literation

December 25, 2014

A friend said, “More than a decade ago, you’d produced a list of ‘Arab’ words, beginning with ‘al’….let’s have the list again!”

I can’t remember too many, but here are the ones that I do:

Lazy Arab: Album
Arab who prefers men: Algae
Arab who likes stripes: Algebra (the interesting part about this word is that, truly, the world algebra is derived from the word for zero…al-sifr..you can “hear” the “siro” becoming ziro, to zero, to zebr to gebr to gebra!)
Arab who likes the US (is there such a one?) Alabama (or even Alobama 😀 )
Arab losing hair: Alopaecia
Arab unity: Altogether
Arab twins: Alike
Arab tragedy: Alas
Arab world: Alok
Arab memory loss: Alzheimer
Nearing the end of this list: Almost Done!

I’m amazed that my friend remembers this list… I’d tot(al)ly forgotten it!

Two outings with Savithri Singh, 23 and 241214

December 25, 2014

Email to the bngbirds egroup:

The visit of an avid birder and a friend from Delhi, Savithri Singh, meant a couple of birding outings, one to the zoo area on the 23rd of December, 2014. (Kartik, Karuna, Savithri, and I.)

This visit was curtailed as I had forgotten that the zoo would be closed on Tuesdays, and Flycatcher Avenue, being now in the ticketed area, would not be accessible. We birded in the orchard area and returned reasonably satisfied with our morning. observing Lark behaviour and the flight of Rosy Starlings. I also got to see the Rufous-tailed Lark in the orchard area after a long time. I wish I’d been able to take Savithri to show her Flycatcher Avenue and Kingfisher Pond…but that will be next time! We took a drive along the Reserve Forest on the Bannerghatta Kaggalipura Road, too, up to the Bhavani temple, but the Kingfishers eluded us there, too.

Birds:

Barbet, Coppersmith
Barbet, White-cheeked
Babbler, Jungle
Bee-eater, Green
Bulbul, Red-vented
Bulbul, Red-whiskered
Bushchat, Pied
Bushlark, Jerdon’s
Coucal, Greater
Dove, Laughing
Dove, Spotted
Drongo, Black
Egret, Cattle
Egret, Little
Flowerpecker, Pale-billed
Flycatcher, Asian Brown
Honey-buzzard, Oriental
Lark, Rufous-tailed
Kite, Black
Kite, Brahminy
Myna, Common
Myna, Jungle
Oriole, Indian Golden
Parakeet, Rose-ringed
Pigeon, Blue Rock
Pipit, Olive-backed
Prinia, Ashy
Prinia, Plain
Robin, Indian
Shrike, Long-tailed
Sparrow, House
Sunbird, Purple-rumped
Swallow, Barn
Swallow, Red-rumped
Swift, House
Wagtail, White-browed
Warbler, Booted
Warbler, Greenish
White-eye, Oriental

Photos on my FB album

here

However, Savithri’s wish to sight the Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher came to fruition on the 24th, when a group of us ( Brinda, Kartik, Karuna, Kiran, Savithri, Sharmila and I) went to Nandi Hills. Though the Nursery area was rather sparse on sightings (more photographers/birders than birds!), enough birds obliged us to keep us very happy. One of the highlights was sighting both the Red-breasted Flycatcher and the Red-throated Flycatcher, the differences between which I came home and read about. My post about this beauty is at

http://deponti.livejournal.com/1110764.html

(All my pics were of Ficedula parva, and none of F. albicilla! I’ve also included a short video of its call.)

The Blue-capped Rock Thrush put in a very brief appearance at the ‘water leak puddle” near Tipu’s summer lodge, but thereafter, the hordes of visitors seemed to keep it away. We followed a pair of Puff-throated Babblers around the entrance to the Nursery area, and into the broken shed of potted plants there. Bird photography can be “potty” work sometimes!

The Pied Thrush and the Nilgiri Wood Pigeon eluded us, I am afraid, as did many of the raptors. But an Asian Paradise Flycatcher did its Ribbon-tailed Flaunty Dance in the area near the Monkey-Puzzle tree near the summer lodge, the Auricaria cookii tree opposite the water reservoir, and again at the Nehru Nilaya. We were happy with our morning as we headed home.

Here is the list I’ve put up on eBird.

Barbet, Coppersmith
Barbet, White-cheeked
Babbler, Jungle
Babbler, Puff-throated
Bee-eater, Green
Bulbul, Red-vented
Bulbul, Red-whiskered
Bushchat, Pied
Bushlark, Jerdon’s
Coucal, Greater
Dove, Laughing
Dove, Spotted
Drongo, Ashy
Drongo, Black
Eagle, Crested Serpent
Egret, Cattle
Egret, Little
Flowerpecker, Pale-billed
Flycatcher, Asian Paradise
Flycatcher, Asian Brown
Flycatcher, Red-breasted
Flycatcher, Red-throated
Honey-buzzard, Oriental
Kite, Black
Kite, Brahminy
Malkoha, Blue-faced
Martin, Dusky Crag
Myna, Common
Myna, Jungle
Oriole, Indian Golden
Parakeet, Rose-ringed
Pigeon, Blue Rock
Pipit, Olive-backed
Prinia, Ashy
Prinia, Plain
Robin, Indian
Robin, Indian Blue
Robin, Oriental Magpie
Roller, Indian
Shikra
Shrike, Long-tailed
Sparrow, House
Sunbird, Purple-rumped
Swallow, Barn
Swallow, Red-rumped
Thrush, Blue-capped Rock
Wagtail, Grey
Wagtail, White-browed
Warbler, Booted
Warbler, Greenish
Warbler, Tickell’s Leaf
White-eye, Oriental

Photos on my FB album

here

Up next, my quick “bird-butter” trail to Valley school this morning (Christmas Day), after the disappointment of having to cancel the volunteer trip to Bandipur. That will have a bird and butterfly list!

Cheers, and hope everyone is enjoying the long weekend and the festive time!

The Red-breasted Flycatcher, Nandi Hills, 241214

December 24, 2014

This morning, I went with Savithri Singh, her son Kartik and his friend Karuna, Brinda, and Sharmila, to Nandi Hills.

Though it certainly didn’t rain birds, we saw enough to keep us quite happy, and one of the highlights of the outing was the

RED-THROATED FLYCATCHER

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that flew about, delighting us.

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I wanted to find the difference between the Red-breasted and the Red-throated Flycatcher, and I read that the Red-breasted Flycatcher is Ficedula parva ,” is a small passerine bird in the Old World flycatcher family. It breeds in eastern Europe and across central Asia and is migratory, wintering in south Asia:…. and “the Asian species, Ficedula albicilla, previously considered a subspecies of the red-breasted flycatcher, has the red throat surrounded by grey and a different song. It is usually now separated as the Taiga flycatcher.”

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Why Taiga? Because…this bird goes to breed in Poland! However, one disturbing fact is that
“Studies on their spring arrivals to the breeding quarters in Poland from 1973–2002 show that males are returning earlier with increasing temperatures.”

They are found mainly deciduous woodlands, especially near water. They build an open nest in a tree hole or similar recess. 4–7 eggs are laid.

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The

Wiki entry

about the Taiga Flycatcher has this to say:

“In winter they are mostly silent but have a typical chip-chip-chr-rrr flycatcher call. In their breeding season, the song consists of melodious whistles, like that of the European pied flycatcher.”

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For other photos from the outing, click on my FB album

here .

Using others’ homes, Road to Galibore, 201214

December 22, 2014

While birding on the road to Galibore, Karnataka,on the banks of the Kaveri, in the Cauvery Wild Life Sanctuary (CWLS), we obseved some abandoned nests of the Baya Weavers.

We found that some Scaly-breasted Munias were now using the nests, and for a while, we watched these little beauties flying into, and away, from the nests.

A little later, though, our attention was arrested by the call of a

RUFOUS TREEPIE

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which we found flying from nest to nest.

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It kept picking at the dried grass that made up the nests:

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I could not understand whether it was foraging for insects in the grasses, or if it was unpicking the grass reeds to use in a nest of its own.

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At one point, I found the bird actually putting its head into the opening of one of the nests, as if to try and get in.

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Here’s the Treepie on the nest:

I took another one, too:

The

Wiki entry on this bird

does not mention anything about this behaviour. I wonder if I could get some more information about this…was the bird just being opportunistic?

The bird list of this trip. on eBird is at

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S20983466