Archive for February, 2020

Return to base

February 24, 2020

I do love travelling, but like a raagam that meanders and riffs over three octaves and finally returns to the sadjam, I love coming back to my family…the naughty but innocent faces of my grandchildren are indeed the ‘sam’ to the varying rhythms of my travels and experiences.

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The G-string…

February 24, 2020

When I was born, in Kolkata
I had a G-string around me.
Not the one that you’re thinking of!
Wash your dirty minds, and see

My words…. I had around me
Scores of G’s….Banner-G
Chatter-G, and Mukher-G.
However, today, what others admire
About me…is my Ener-G!

It’s all I have, that saves me from
A deadly lazy lethar-G.
It keeps me from sinking down
Though I’m well past my apo-G.

And if my nonsense verse annoys you
With its total or-G
Of G-words, just snap back at me..
Or accept my apolo-G!

Email to Bngbirds about Mavathur Kere, 170220

February 24, 2020

When the first report of the “phoren birds”…the European Bee-eaters that pass through our area around this time of the year….came in, I didn’t think too much about it. After all, I told myself, I have seen them in the past…glad that someone else can see them now! I fully expected that they would be gone the next day, as usually happens.

But no! This year, the Foreign Bee-eaters seemed to have decide, partially at least, to follow the example of the Spot-billed Pelicans, many of which have practically bought 3BHK apartments and settled down in Bangalore, and can be seen all year round. They (probably expert birders refer to them as EBE, at the risk of sounding as if they are whistling at a pretty girl!) decided to tarry a while. They are not precisely in Bangalore (as in, sitting on top of Vidhan Soudha), but about 40km away. Every day, I got reports reading, “We (this ‘we’ never included ‘me’!) went and they were there”. The birds seemed to fly off at 7.30am or so, meaning that birders would have to reach Mavathur lake area at least half an hour prior to that.I looked at the BMTC bus that I usually use, and put certain “shall I?” thoughts away.

But when my friend Srikanth asked me if I’d like to come along, temptation beckoned. I had gone to Jigani campus of IIMB on Sunday morning; attended to a domestic crisis in the afternoon; conducted the 3rd Sunday walk at Madivala kere in the evening, helped someone’s parent to the hospital at night,and was (am) going to leave for the Chambal Bird Survey on Monday evening. The sensible thing was to sleep well, and forget those birds.

So of course, like Eve (not EBE) and the forbidden fruit…I fell! Being me, I quickly filled up Srikanth’s car with two more passengers (why have 2 people looking at, or for, the birds, when more could do it?), Mamta (from Bhubaneswar) and Padma, we set off in the pre-dawn darkness, with Siva’s tips to guide us.

These tips being very accurate, we arrived at the Google Maps-designated “Your destination has arrived” early enough to walk for about 15 to 20 minutes, beguiled by other birds such as Little Grebes, Coots, and a little blue jewel of a Kingfisher, to the spot where we could see the two electricity pylons. And as we neared them, I did see a few silhouettes beginning to perch on the wires.

The light improved enough to see that they, were, indeed, the European Bee-eaters; these were lifers for all three of my friends. We walked over a rickety wooden bridge, and approached the “bande” or boulders.

The other three managed to climb up; alas, my dinky knee, and the thought of a long journey to Madhya Pradesh awaiting me, kept me back, particularly because of the loose small pebbles and rocks which, I was sure, would roll me down like Jack and Jill! However, I followed a broader path that skirted the boulders, and I could soon see the bee-eaters quite well, if not very close. Since I am far from being a NatGeo photographer, the sight of these colourful beauties, and a few documentation shots, sufficed me.

There were also several kinds of Swallows on the wires; and the beautiful Common Sand Martins I had been told about were there too! I watched for a while, as the birds made their own avian music notations on the wires, as well as chittering away. The Bee-eaters suddenly flew away, at about 7.20am.

Quite content, I looked over the valley, with its check dam and little temple, on the path from which a farmer was bringing his cattle to the fields for the morning’s work. I walked about, seeing several Rufous-tailed Larks, both adult and babies (Larklings? Larkettes?) and many Munias and Silverbills.

By this time, I had armed myself with a stout stick (I’d already fallen once and pulled Mamta down with me too!) and was able to negotiate the Bridge (being a keen birder, I nearly typed “birdge”!) over the River Kwai, well, the wooden slats over the ditch, and came back to the shore of the lake, along with the others.

Here, more unexpected delights awaited us. A Woolly-necked Stork stood, plumb spang in the middle of our path as did a Pond Heron. Clicking contentedly, we also sighted several waterfowl, including a group of Northern Shovellers (I’ve never seen a Southern Shoveller, do they exist?) on the water.

Back to the where the car was parked, a Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher in the fields, and a Blue-faced Malkoha doing its usual skulking act in a wood-apple tree, made a fitting finale to a most enjoyable morning.

We stopped to have breakfast at the new outer space restaurant at Ravugodlu (it’s called NASA’s Davangere Benne Dose!) and filled up our inner space, and returned home by 11 am, well satisified with the morning’s outing!

I do hope that many of you will be going over to see these stunningly colourful visitors to our area before they decide to move on. My eBird list from the morning (what a haul!) is at

https://ebird.org/checklist/S64628920

I have put up my photos on FB at

https://www.facebook.com/deemopahan/media_set?set=a.10157323019538878&type=3

and on Flickr at

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I have included a few videos and photos in my quick-notes blogpost at

Now excuse me, while I go and pack…binoculars? check! Grimmskipp? check!

Cheers, Deepa.

Bngbirds 3rd Sunday outing: Madivala Kere, evening, 160220

February 17, 2020

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Following Deepak Jois’ suggestion that I conduct an evening walk, I met up with a reasonably large group of birders at the entrance of Madivala lake at 4.30 pm, after paying uncomplainingly for parking, entry and cameras.

I had been a little worried about the other visitors to the lake, but as it turned out, they were not a hindrance at all. From our meeting point, we could scan the lake…and the first thing that struck us was the horrific growth of the water hyacinth, which appears ready to choke off the entire water body. Boating too, has been stopped because of this. It seemed to be more of a green lawn with some stretches of water.

However, there was enough water for several birds. Purple and Grey Herons, a huge flock of Intermediate Egrets (I have not seen this large a congregation before), Purple Swamphens (no, I will not call them Grey-headed!) and Coots moved around in the vegetation. There was a lone Pelican in the water, but most of them were roosting on the island, waiting to come down to fish later, perhaps.

Moving on, we heard the calls of Barbets and Bulbuls; some of us sighted a few, too. Sunbirds flitted around on the Singapore Cherry tree, as did a solitary Pale-billed Flowerpecker (Sabyasachi told me that they are called “Tuntuni” in Bengali…I know some names like Shalik and Tiya, but this was something I learnt today).

Some Asian Openbill storks were also spotted on the island, and Job exclaimed at seeing several Northern Shovellers on the far side of the waterbody. His sharp-eyed spotting enabled all of us to enjoy a peek at these winter visitors.

Meanwhile, three majestic Marsh Harriers entertained us (and terrified the birds) throughout the walk, alternately perching on the water hyacinth or floating over the water with their whitish heads and the typical “headlights” on their wings showing, as they hunted for unwary prey.

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The light on the water turned golden as sunset approached, and it was a great time to watch the birds as they foraged for food. I enjoyed the company of several of the children. Ahana, Surya, Trayee, Vismaya…some of the names that I remember…these were some of the children whom I interacted with. Surya, in particular, seems very knowledgeable about bird names, and was often testing me to see if I knew enough! Such bright and interested minds are fun to spend time with!

We walked to the left of the entrance gate, till past 6pm. Then, as several people bid adieu, I too decided to turn back as the lake gates close at 6.15pm. We were all out of the lake, as I had said, by 6.30 pm, leaving the lake to flights of Little Egrets flying in, and bats beginning to flit about in the gloaming.

The eBird list (45+ species) is at

https://ebird.org/checklist/S64561731

I took few photographs as I was busy scanning the lake with my binoculars! My FB album is at

https://www.facebook.com/deemopahan/media_set?set=a.10157320888153878&type=3

and my Flickr album on

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Thanks to everyone for joining in, and letting me enjoy the golden sunset in the still-pleasant weather of a February evening!

Cheers, Deepa.

European Bee-eaters, Mavathur Kere, off Kanakapura Road, 170220

February 17, 2020

eBird list, 47 species:

https://ebird.org/checklist/S64628920

Vapour rising from the lake in the dawn light:

Rufous-tailed Lark parent and child:

Natural strobe at NASA’s restaurant on Kanakapura Road:

Dawn:

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European Bee-eaters:

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Small Blue Kingfisher:

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Rufous-tailed Larks:

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Woolly-necked Stork:

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Pond Heron:

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Brefus at NASA’s:

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Bngbirds 3rd Sunday walk, Madivala kere, 160220, evening

February 16, 2020

Following Deepak Jois’ suggestion that I conduct an evening walk, I met up with a reasonably large group of birders at the entrance of Madivala lake at 4.30 pm, after paying uncomplainingly for parking, entry and cameras.

I had been a little worried about the other visitors to the lake, but as it turned out, they were not a hindrance at all. From our meeting point, we could scan the lake…and the first thing that struck us was the horrific growth of the water hyacinth, which appears ready to choke off the entire water body. Boating too, has been stopped because of this. It seemed to be more of a green lawn with some stretches of water.

However, there was enough water for several birds. Purple and Grey Herons, a huge flock of Intermediate Egrets (I have not seen this large a congregation before), Purple Swamphens (no, I will not call them Grey-headed!) and Coots moved around in the vegetation. There was a lone Pelican in the water, but most of them were roosting on the island, waiting to come down to fish later, perhaps.

Moving on, we heard the calls of Barbets and Bulbuls; some of us sighted a few, too. Sunbirds flitted around on the Singapore Cherry tree, as did a solitary Pale-billed Flowerpecker (Sabyasachi told me that they are called “Tuntuni” in Bengali…I know some names like Shalik and Tiya, but this was something I learnt today).

Some Asian Openbill storks were also spotted on the island, and Job exclaimed at seeing several Northern Shovellers on the far side of the waterbody. His sharp-eyed spotting enabled all of us to enjoy a peek at these winter visitors.

Meanwhile, three majestic Marsh Harriers entertained us (and terrified the birds) throughout the walk, alternately perching on the water hyacinth or floating over the water with their whitish heads and the typical “headlights” on their wings showing, as they hunted for unwary prey.

The light on the water turned golden as sunset approached, and it was a great time to watch the birds as they foraged for food. I enjoyed the company of several of the children. Ahana, Surya, Trayee, Vismaya…some of the names that I remember…these were some of the children whom I interacted with. Surya, in particular, seems very knowledgeable about bird names, and was often testing me to see if I knew enough! Such bright and interested minds are fun to spend time with!

We walked to the left of the entrance gate, till past 6pm. Then, as several people bid adieu, I too decided to turn back as the lake gates close at 6.15pm. We were all out of the lake, as I had said, by 6.30 pm, leaving the lake to flights of Little Egrets flying in, and bats beginning to flit about in the gloaming.

The eBird list (45+ species) is at

https://ebird.org/checklist/S64561731

I took few photographs as I was busy scanning the lake with my binoculars! My FB album is at

https://www.facebook.com/deemopahan/media_set?set=a.10157320888153878&type=3

and my Flickr album on

IMG_4534

Thanks to everyone for joining in, and letting me enjoy the golden sunset in the still-pleasant weather of a February evening!

Cheers, Deepa.

Flickr albums and videos of 3rd bird survey at Satpura Tiger Reserve, 04-110220

February 11, 2020

04,05,06 Feb, train to Itarsi/Sohagpur/Madhai, and morning birding at Madhai mud flats

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7th Feb, Parraspani:

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8th Feb, Parraspani and Dhargaon:

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9th Feb, Parraspani and return to Madhai:

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Praveen was sent to Podar and returned to Churna for the last night. We took 2.5 to 3 hours to get there and to return to Madhai. No phones, no food, no forest guard.

Crossing the Denwa river at Parraspani:

Nilgai family on the way back from Dhargaon to Parraspani:

Chital swimming across the river at Madhai:

Little Ringed Plover bathing, Madhai: