T G Halli, 260617

A last-minute decision, and six of us, including a birder from Noida, Delhi, who will be moving to Bangalore in a while…off we went, in the predawn dark, to T G Halli Reservoir.

Padma Ramaswamy, Akhilesh Sharma, G S Ramaswamy, Y S Prasanna, Sudha Mahalingam

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It’s getting harder for me to categorize these outings as birding trips, as there is always so much more to observe and enjoy. Just watching the lush greenery that has sprung up after the rains, with the waters reflecting the scudding monsoon clouds, lifts the heart and
brings such joy.

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As we descended towards the water, we were stopped, literally in our tracks, by a Pioneer bush. This was one where the leaves had all been stripped away by the caterpillars of the Pioneer butterfly,

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which had then pupated on the branches and twigs.

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Many of the butterflies had just emerged or were emerging…

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and those which had taken on their new form were flittering around the bush. We could not help watching this dance of new life for a while.

There was also a bird’s nest in the middle of the bush.

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As we walked along the banks of the reservoir, the birds did not disappoint us, either. Beautiful little Indian Silverbills made music scores on the wires.

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Spot-blilled Pelicans, which are now resident birds, floated on the surface,

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…as did Little Grebes and Common Coots. Cormorants…Little, Great, and the distinctive Indian…flew and swam around, occasionally diving beneath the surface in search of food.

Ashy-crowned Sparrow Larks

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and Tawny Larks

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flitted about the landscape.

Ashy Prinias went about picking up prey and going to their nests.

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A Little Ringed Plover sat on a mud flat.

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Since it is the time of year when we can only see RBI (Resident Birds of India!), we watched two Spot-billed Ducks, and a Clamorous Reed Warbler. However, some Tawny Larks, flitting about, a Whte-browed Wagtail behaving according to its name, added to our list, as did this White-browed Bulbul.

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At one point, the sounds were much more than the actual sight of the birds! The Common Hawk Cuckoo called its complaint of “brain-feeever!”, Tailorbirds, Flowerpeckers (presumably the common Pale-billed variety) and Sunbirds added their calls, Grey Francolins and Red-wattled Lapwings (we did see some later) punctuated the general bird song with their phrases, too. We heard the trilling calls of the Green Bee-eaters long before we saw any.

Both the woodland and the water birds continued to delight us as we walked along. At two spots, active colonies of Baya Weaver nests were being constructed.

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We watched these residential layouts taking shape, and also being inspected by the prospective owners (is there a word such as “owneress”? as the inspectors were the ladies!)

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Flying between the nesting tree and the thorny date palm behind, the birds kept us quite occupied.

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It was business as usual for the contract fishermen on the lake.

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The birding was interrupted by more “buttering” (as Rohit Girotra says, if birdwatching is birding, then butterfly-watching is buttering!) as Pioneers, Crows, various Blues, Pansies, and others flew about us, mud-puddling and also basking in the weak sunshine.It’s not often that one gets to photograph the Blue butterflies with their wings open, and we made the most of the opportunity.

Forget-me-not

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Blue Pansy

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Plains Cupid

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Common Banded Awl

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Indian Skipper

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Grass Yellow

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Common Leopard

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We observed some insects, too, such as this Blister Beetle

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this Green Marsh Hawk Dragonfly

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and this Jewel Bug

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this caterpillar

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a Day-flying Handmaiden Moth

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Even the common Housefly can be beautiful up close!

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But a further treat awaited us a little further. Two juvenile Green Bee-eaters, which have, apparently, not (yet) developed any fear of humans, sat quite close to the path, and flew around us as they hawked insects from the air. Their plumage, much duller than that of the
adults, allowed them to melt into the foliage of the tree they sat in.

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We walked a little further, expecting them to fly off to a distance…but they did not. All of us had goofy smiles on our faces as they flew about our heads, and landed on twigs quite close to us!

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Here’s a full-frame shot of one of them.

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If only all birds,and indeed, all wild creatures, could be (safely)thus free of the fear of humans…well, for a little while, we were in that Utopia!

Just when we thought of turning back, a nice “zebra-backed” Hoopoe, foraging along the ground,

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kept us there for a while longer…

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Reluctantly, we turned back on the path, heading back towards the chores and commitments that awaited us back home.

The wildflowers were lovely too. The Water Hyacinth, an ornamental which is now choking up our waterways as an invasive pest, still has lovely flowers:

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The Cleome had begun to blossom:

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Commelina flowers made bright sparkles underfoot.

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But the scenes. of the cloudy, cool morning on the reservoir will surely be in our mind’s eyes, recharging our souls and getting us through the stresses and strains of our mundane weekdays…We wished every devout Muslim citizen Id Mubarak, as we went home.

Oh…the food? Since we were in a rush, we did not stop for the usual post-trip brefus, but we did have fun eating Padma’s sandwiches, and some of the sweets I’d brought from the wedding I attended on Sunday.

The eBird list (and an impressive one it is, too, for a “summer” outing!) is

here

and I’ve put up my photographs of the trip on an FB album

here

Birders:

Akhilesh
Padma/Ramaswamy
Prasanna
Sudha (from NOIDA)
and I

Butterflies:

Awl, Common Banded
Blues, various (the experts are still disagreeing over the up-wing photos of some of those I clicked, so I will stop with that, instead of going into Gram, Grass, Pea and so on!)
Baronet
Cerulean, Common
Coster, Tawny
Cupid, Plains
Emigrant, Common
Emigrant, Mottled
Forget-me-not
Gull, Common
Jezebel, Common
Leopard, Common
Lime,Common
Mormon, Common
Pansy, Blue
Pansy, Chocolate
Pansy, Lemon
Pioneer
Rose, Common
Rose, Crimson
Sunbeam, Indian
Skipper, Indian
Tiger, Plain
Yellow, Common Grass
Yellow, Three-spot Grass

Already looking forward to the next weekend and what it may bring,

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