Archive for November, 2018

Kidoor Bird Fest: Birding on the Border, 10,111118

November 29, 2018

Birds know no borders; the ones that we go to see in Karnataka fly off and can be seen once we cross over into Kerala!

So when the birders of Kasargod announced the second Kidoor Bird Fest, to celebrate both the first sighting of the

Orange-breasted Green Pigeon
obgp by by Sarala Jeevanthi Gamage
Photo credit: Sarala Jeevanthi Gamage

and the birthday of

Dr Salim Ali, the noted ornithologist,

it was clear that this would be a productive birding weekend.

The participants and the organizers.
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The festival was a bigger event than it was in 2017, because this time, birders from all over Karnataka and Kerala attended. 65+ birders made a strong show at the fest, which was held in the hamlet of Kuntangeradka, in Kidoor.

Kidoor Post Office sign.
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The festival began with everyone gathering and registering.
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Beautiful palm-frond birds adorning the hall.
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Raju Kidoor
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and the entire team, including Maxim and Lavina
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worked very hard to make the event a success.

The birders of Kasargod, and some from Mangalore, brought the following local luminaries on the dais: Sri Pundarikaksha K L, President, and Smt Aruna Manjunatha Alva, Ward Member, both from the Grama Panchayath, Kumbla; Sri Biju P, ACF, and Sri Sunil Kumar, SFO, Social Forestry Division, Kasargod; Sri Chikkayya Rai,a practitioner of traditional herbal medicine; and Sri Radhakrishna, an eco-friendly businessman of Kidoor who eschewed plastic.

Dignitaries on podium:
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Sri Pundarikaksha inaugurated the event, and the dignitaries from the Social Forestry Division spoke about the valuable sighting of the Orange-breasted Green Pigeon in Kidoor, on 10th Nov 2016, and the decision to celebrate the birthday of Dr Salim Ali, noted ornithologist, on 11th November as well. Kidoor has proved a birding hotspot, with sightings of several birds endemic to the Western Ghats.

Sri Chikkaya Rai, Sri Radhakrishna, and Chi. Praveen (a young student who has spearheaded several ecological initiatives in his school) were felicitated.
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The local birders took the visitors for an evening walk in the nearby laterite/grassland area.

Sunlight on the grasses.
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and a pond that they are protecting for the birds.
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Participants on the evening walk.
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Children at the evening walk.
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They organized a cultural program, with many people, including these ladies who sang folk songs, taking part.
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Untiringly, they also conducted a night walk along the village roads.

Lavina, a doctoral student, explains about pond life on the night walk.
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Next morning,in the dawn light, they took the visitors on a morning walk, along a scenic trail.
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Apart from many endemic birds , several trees also endemic to the Western Ghats, butterflies, wildflowers, insects and other creatures were sighted (see photos below). The ladies were put up in the homes of the local residents, who were very hospitable.

The family who put up visitors at Kasargod, when they alighted from the overnight bus, on their way to Kidoor
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The family who put up the ladies at Kidoor
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Photo credit: Padma Ramaswamy

One of the impressive features of the fest was that not only was it conducted on a tight budget, but there was no sense of heirarchy amongst the organizers. Every one pitched in to do whatever tasks were required, whether it was setting up a screen, serving the food, or arranging the chairs in the hall. It made for a very homely, pleasant atmosphere, and the visitors also were able to do their bit. Another great feature was that no plastic was used in the course of the meals; each person washed the stainless steel plate, glass or cup that s/he used.

The meals were traditional and were delicious.

Breakfast of iddlis, sambhar and chai.
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Lunch in traditional vessels.
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After breakfast, the gathering settled down to watch some presentations on Odonates (Dragonflies and Damselflies), and Butterflies.
Murali’s presentation on butterflies:
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After this the participants were treated to lunch at the Gram Panchayat President’s home.
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Plantain leaf lunch.
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Full of the wonderful sightings they had enjoyed, and the new friendships they had formed, the birders dispersed.

The District Collector, Dr Sajith Babu, participated enthusiastically in the Fest.

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He promised to spare the laterite/grassland from human-centric “development”. This makes it possible that from next year, the Kidoor Bird Fest will become a larger, well-sponsored event, attracting birders from further afield.

Participants at the end of the fest:
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Birds and other living beings observed during the event:

Yellow-wattled Lapwing.
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Yellow-footed Green Pigeon.
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Malabar Lark.
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Flame-throated Bulbul.
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Brown-capped Pygmy Woodpecker.
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Nilgiri Flowerpecker:
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Yellow-browed Bulbul.
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Grey-necked Bunting.
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Chestnut-headed and Blyth’s Starlings:
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Scaly-breasted and White-rumped Munias.
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Curved flower or Woody Chassilia.
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Porcupine quill found on the ground.
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Blue Tiger Moth.
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Memecylon flowers.
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Nag Kuda Tree (Tabernaemontana alternifolia).
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Beautiful grass.
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Beauty of the laterite rock.
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Common Sailer.
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Weaver Ants.
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Red Pierrot.
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All photographs by me, unless otherwise credited.

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P N Akhila, 301054-231118

November 27, 2018

When I married and moved to R K Nagar (Rama Krishna Nagar), Chennai, I underwent a lot of difficulties…the usual ones with an arranged marriage. I made friends with Akhila, who lived opposite…and truly, her affection (and generally sweet nature) carried me through those difficult years. She was exactly 7 days younger than I am.

Later, she took up a job, married, moved to Hyderabad…our contact was more sporadic, but there was never any change in our love for each other. She managed her job and her home, brought up two very sweet daughters, and dealt with many blows with her usual gentle courage. I managed to visit her in Hyderabad, and we met when the family was in Bangalore, too.

On an impulse, I’d emailed her to “update” and just before her 64th birthday (30th Oct), she called, explained about a serious illness, and sounded as cheerful about that as she’s always done about everything else. I sent her birthday wishes as usual, and was totally shattered to get a reply a couple of days ago from her elder daughter, saying that she’d passed away on Nov.23.

I have always called her “doe-eyed”. We were two women in two different, busy worlds, and yet we found chances to meet and keep our loving friendship up…I wipe the tears that roll down my cheeks, and carry on with my daily chores. This is life…the mundane soothes, masks, and trumps over the emotions.

My dear, dear Maankannu…my life is much poorer without your sweetness. 64…no age to go…but we have to answer the call, when it comes. I will regain my smile in a while…but right now…I miss my friend, who was almost a sister.

Shadow puppetry: Michael and Wendy Dacre at Kathalaya, 231118

November 24, 2018

Sometimes the shadow is just as interesting as the substance.

I was privileged to peep in on a shadow puppet workshop that

Michael and Wendy Dacre

conducted at Kathalaya, BTM Layout, Bangalore, on 23rd November 2018.

Nikhil from the Hindu interviews Michael and Wendy, while Geeta looks on.
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Shadow puppet theatre has long been a part of the traditional arts of many cultures,but when Wendy first got interested in it, she found that there was no tradition of it at all, in the United Kingdom. She built up her shadow puppets, and the shadow puppet theatre, from scratch, using any of a wide variety of materials to hand, and learning the ways puppets can be moved behind the screen, by experimentation. “Traditional shadow puppetry has set rules,” Wendy says, on a cloudy afternoon. “But I invented as I went along.” She did take the help of technology, she says; “If, for example, I wanted to make the silhouette of a buffalo, I would look at images on the net to be able to draw one.”

Michael and Wendy
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Wendy, therefore, describes herself as a “maker”. Whether it is the puppets themselves, or the proscenium on which they act out the story that Michael tells, they are all her own creations.

Michael takes up the story, from the viewpoint of telling the tale. “The puppets themselves don’t talk, in our shows,” he explains. It’s the audience’s minds and imagination, he says, that fills up the details: “The mind has to fill in the other things.” “I see the story in my inner mind,” he adds. Both he and Wendy sometimes improvise as they go along. The occasional tussles of each wanting to do something different, and the resulting compromises, make for interesting theatre!

What is the longest shadow puppet theatre they have staged? Michael talks of the many tales he’s picked up all over…the Icelandic and Irish mythology, the tales from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, and the Old English folklore. Their story of Beowulf is about an hour long, Michael says, as is the production of “Into a New Time”. He mentions tales based on the Sargasso Sea. Though the content could be very adult, he explains, he finds that it’s the adults who are most often captivated by the simplest of tales. “It’s been 31 years of an amazing journey with the stories and Wendy’s puppets,” he says. He describes himself, smilingly, as a “wordsmith”, who spins and relates the tale that Wendy brings forth with her puppets.

The puppets can vary greatly in size. “I’ve made some giant puppets,” smiles Wendy. “For the Arthurian tale of

Gawain and the Green Knight

I made a Green Knight puppet with a giant head, with creepers and plants growing out of his face, ears and all…and the puppet had to be beheaded in the course of the story! “Velcro came in handy!” she laughs.

All the pupppets only monochrome shadows? “Oh, no, you just saw the green grass, the coloured flowers and the other things I created as the stage,” explains Wendy. “I use anything, such as glass paper, that is translucent and will let the light through. Sometimes the mixture of colours gets me interesting combination, sometimes the pigments merge into black.” She also uses coloured lights as well, to enhance the silhouettes.

How does Wendy take care of the puppets? She laughs. Her craft, she says, is very much “of the time”, and the puppets can disintegrate into their component parts or, as happened with one giant puppet, get composted! Fabric, willow, glue, ratafia…she uses materials that can decompose.

For the workshop, Wendy has brought along a puppet stage, with three panels, and specially devised lighting. She must have this, as daylight cannot be focused sharply on her little stage. She’s also created a small mobile stage that can be slung across the story-teller’s shoulders and secured at the waist, so that the story teller can move round while staging the shadow puppet show.

Jayashree demonstrates the mobile stage and shows some of the puppets:

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On their first visit to India, at the invitation of Geeta Ramanujam of Kathalaya,this couple from Devon seems very much at ease. Michael tries out a vada with chutney, and interacts with the ten women, from very diverse backgrounds, who have come to participate in the workshop. Anu, Shalini, Rakhi, Savita, Shirin, Archana, Anshul, Rohini, Pavitra and Anusha are learning a bit of this art and craft and creating their own shadow puppet theatre…an exciting prospect for them.

Participants at the workshop:

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Scenery created by the participants of the workshop:

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We wish Michael and Wendy success with their first foray into our city and country, with their spinning of tales and creation of a world of the imagination.

A moose and a billy goat, in the short demonstration before the workshop:

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Here is a video that Jayashree took, of the short demonstration:

Michael and Wendy will be staging two performances with Geeta Ramanujam on Sunday, 25 November, 2018. Here are the details and the links:

Shadow puppetry Show – Geeta Ramanujam, Michael and Wendy Dacre UK.

Kathalaya, in collaboration with Indian Music Experience (IME), presents a special shadow play by international storytellers, Raventales (UK) . Venue: IME JP nagar opp. BRIGADE MILLENIUM SCHOOL on NOV. 25th 11 to 12pm. Tickets: Rs.300

Link to the event,

here

There will be another performance at 5.30 to 7.pm at Courtyard Koota, Good Earth, Kengeri, on the same day.

Link for the tickets,

here

Or you can call 8277389840 for more details.

Official report: Butterfly Festival, Doresanipalya, 171118

November 20, 2018

I was about to write something about this event for my blog, and realized my official report for the Karnataka Forest Dept would do just as well!

The founder-members of Bangalore Butterfly Club (BBC), from Nagraj’s slide presentation:

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The Karwar Swift, not very common.
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The second Butterfly Festival at Doresanipalya Forest Research Station, celebrated on 17th November, 2018, was very successful.

These ladies, making the rangoli, brought as much of colour as the butterflies did, to the event.
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Though limitations on the space available at the venue, in terms of the hall for presentations, resulted in the event not being open to the public at large, a gathering of more than 150 people in total, with a number of casual visitors, ensured a good attendance.

The event was conducted by the Karnataka Forest Department (KFD) in association with Bangalore Butterfly Club (BBC) and National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS).

The gathering:

The flame that was lit.
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Everyone gathered in the morning and participants signed their names in the register. There was planting of some butterfly-friendly species of plants and trees, by several KFD personnel.

A KFD guard documents the occasion:
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After a delicious breakfast, the children from Janak Academy, and the participants, went on butterfly walks, conducted by various members of BBC.

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Many butterflies, and other interesting living beings and creatures, were observed.

Common Pierrot
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When everyone returned, some freshly-eclosed (just emerged from pupae) butterflies, such as Crimson Rose, Common Lime, Baronets, and others were released, to the delight of all present. This release, suggested by the outgoing APCCF, Sri Dilip Das, was spectacular, drawing exclamations from the audience.

Smt Pushpalatha B K, RFO (Utilization), sang a melodious prayer.

Sri Subba Rao, ACF,Seed Unit , was the master of ceremonies, compering the event and introducing the various guests to the audience.

Sri Jagannath, DCF, Social Forestry (Research), Bangalore, opened the proceedings by welcoming the distinguished guests on the podium: Sri Sanjay Hosur, IFS, APCCF (R&U), Sri Punati Sridhar, IFS, PCCF (HoFF), Sri Sanjai Mohan, IFS, PCCF, and MD, KFDC, Sri Jayaram, IFS, PCCF (Wildlife), and Sri Vinay Kumar from EMPRI. Dr Krushnamegh Kunte, Associate Professor, NCBS, was also on the podium.

Sri Rohit and Dr KK (Dr Krushnamegh Kunte) at the tree-planting.
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RFO, Ms Hima Bhat.
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Everyone admired the stage decoration.
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Sri Manjunath C Tambakad, IFS, CCF (Research) Bengaluru, welcomed the gathering. The other guests also spoke, stressing the need for conservation, and expressing the hope that the festival takes on a national hue from next year. He appreciated the event and expressed his hope that sensitizing the children at an early stage would lead to their playing a bigger role in conservation of forests for tomorrow.

Sri Punati Sridhar hoped that Doresanipalya would be a role model for setting up of several tree parks consisting of butterfly larval host plants across Bangalore, which would serve as a haven for butterflies. He appreciated the importance of organizing events like the butterfly festival as a step towards conservation of butterflies and bees, which, he said, were critical for pollination, and by extension, for the survival of life on earth.

Sri Sanjai Mohan expressed his hope that the Doresanipalya campus would be declared as a butterfly reserve. He emphasized that he was glad that events such as the butterfly festival were being organized with participation from public at large and passionate butterfly enthusiasts and butterfly scientist community. He expressed that this kind of participation from public was important to spread awareness about conservation of forests and its creatures

Kum Snigdha sang a beautiful song on butterflies, “Patharagitti Pakka”, on butterflies, by D R Bendre.

The guests and several of the schoolchildren also planted some plants and trees, such as Taare (Terminalia bellarica) and Kadamba (Neolomarckia kadamba)
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Sumptuous breakfast
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In the hall of the KFD office, three presentations were held: Dr Krushnamegh Kunte spoke about butterfly research and citizens’ initiatives in conservation; Sri S Karthikeyan, Chief Naturalist, Jungle Lodges and Resorts (JLR) spoke about butterfly diversity in India, and Sri Nagraj Veeraswami, a member of BBC, showed the audience the many butterflies that he has photographed in the Doresanipalya campus, with an erudite commentary by Sri Ashok Sengupta, one of the founder-members of BBC.

Simultaneously, there were three activities in the building: a display of photographs of butterflies, by various members of BBC
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a painting competition for children, with butterflies as the theme

and an origami workshop, conducted by Sri Seby Manalel and Kum Arpitha Bhat.
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The children, and some of the adults, too, enjoyed these activities. There was also a counter for playing games from “Kadoo”, where many people were seen enjoying themselves.

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Dr Krushnamegh Kunte donated some of the butterfly brochures (a guide to the butterflies of Bangalore) designed by NCBS to the KFD for their reference, and announced that NCBS would also donate the brochures to any schools that needed them.

Sri Rohit Girotra, another of the founding members of BBC, spoke about how the festival took shape, and his hopes for the future of both the event and the butterflies of Bangalore.

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The audience again gathered for the prize-giving and closing ceremonies. Dr Krushnamegh Kunte, Sri S Karthikeyan, and Sri Nagraj Veeraswami were thanked for their presentations.

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The prizes for the painting competition were distributed,

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and the certificates for the origami workshop, the photography display, and general participation were given out.

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The sound engineer did a good job, too.
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The teachers from Janak Academy expressed their appreciation of the event and the opportunity to have the students participate.

A formal vote of thanks concluded the proceedings, and the gathering adjourned for lunch, dispersing afterwards with happy memories of the festival.

Plains Cupid
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Deepa Mohan
Freelance writer and member of BBC
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I have put up the photographs of all the events of the day on a Flickr album

here

And on an FB album, set to public viewing,

here

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My walk home: vehicles

November 15, 2018

The walk home from my daughter’s, in terms of vehicles:
Cars, being washed, causing rivulets of water.
Scooters and mopeds, with helmeted and helmetless riders, the latter trusting to their luck to get away without being fined…or receiving head injuries in an accident.
The occasional cycle, ridden by spandex-clad, eye-shaded men (I rarely see women on cycles, even now) or men with lungis at half-mast.
Conservancy vehicles, with garbage being thrown into their noisome innards.
Autos speeding past with passengers, or refusing to take them.
School buses and vans threading their way through narrow side roads.
Cars carefully covered with tarpaulin.Pushcarts with various wares: fruits, vegetables, flowers, knick-knacks, ears of corn.
A tow vehicle, out early, looking for wrongly parked vehichles to pull away.
An excavator and a road roller, rumbling past.
A peculiar vehicle that my daughter calls a leper skateboard, with a beggar on it, bandaged hands outstretched in supplication.
BMTC buses trying to negotiate dug-up roads and chaotic crossings.
All this explains why our traffic problems are very complex!

Accuracy in journalism today

November 14, 2018

Journalism today is exemplified by the following apology:

“Yesterday, in an article, we stated that Mr. X is a defective in the police force. We sincerely apologize. Mr. X is a detective in the police farce.”

What brought this on? A photo of mine in the Hindu has been credited to Deepa Menon!

here

is the link to the article by Marianne de Nazareth, who has used my photo of the beautiful Sesbania grandiflora flower…

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To a dead butterfly

November 1, 2018

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Oh, little one…why did you die?
Were you attacked by a bird
That wanted you for food?
Or did your energy just give out,
As your wings folded up for good?
With so many others about,
Your death throes not heard?
No answers.You lie there…why, oh why?
The stilling of life, the departure of breath…
The profound mystery of life…and death.