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Doddakallasandra Kere, 3rd Sunday Bngbirds outing, 180819

August 18, 2019

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A question mark hung over today’s outing, as it rained all over Bangalore, well into the early hours of the morning….prompting most of us to ask ourselves, “Should we go, or turn over in our snug warm comforters for a little more sleep?” Well, some of us chose the former option, and Deepak was delighted to see quite a good turnout at Sri Kumaran School, Doddakallasandra, on such a soggy morning!

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At the very outset, I must thank Deepak for introducing me (and perhaps several others) to a lake that I did not know of in so many years of birding in and around Bangalore.So after people posed for the group photograph (several people joined later), we squelched our way into the muddy and rather slippery path to the lake. It was very heartening to see many newcomers, and we were especially happy to see the rapid recovery which Harish Chandra, one of our experienced birders, is making in his recovery towards good health. The devoted care by Neha, his daughter, is obviously bearing good results! He immediately stepped up to Manvi, and chatted to her as he usually does with children.

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Though cloudy and gloomy, we still started with Rose-ringed Parakeets, Spotted Doves and Red-vented Bulbuls. Several Purple-rumped Sunbirds, Loten’s Sunbirds (all beak and hardly any body!)

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and Pale-billed Flowerpeckers delighted us as they flitted about in spite of the absence of sunlight.

Though the sun did not make an appearance at any point during the walk, it proved to be a productive outing. Sri Eshwarappa (on the left in the pic below)

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is one of several volunteers living near the lake, who have been working tirelessly against alarming odds, to keep the lake alive; he spoke quietly, but with great passion, on the way we have lost our water bodies, and the need to preserve them.

At the lake’s edge, we looked out onto the rain-dappled water, where, as Prasad pointed out, many of the waterfowl were going about their business, heedless of the damp conditions. Darters,

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Cormorants (Little, Great and Indian) roosted on the central island or flew in the gloom; a large flock of Spot-billed Ducks were seen, and Deepak told us that they nest and breed here. A lone Spot-billed Pelican was…spotted!

A Common Iora and a couple of Oriental White-eyes provided a bright touch of yellow to the generally grey surroundings, but soon, my insurance policy (whereby I bring my umbrella or raincoast and it never rains) failed, and the raindrops started coming down in earnest. This stopped our walk, and we were content to just stand near the water’s edge and look out, and up, to see all the birds we could. “Chooee, chooee”, went the tailorbirds, and the “guttrr-guttrr” of the White-cheeked Barbets seem to agree that we should not be walking too far on the path that made me rename the place “Muddy kere!” We learnt about hearing the birds as well as seeing them…in such weather, a good skill to have!

Out came all our umbrellas, proving my point, that Bngbirds is the “umbrella” birding group in Bangalore!

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But that didn’t prevent us from seeing Greater Coucals, distinguishing between House and Jungle Crows, Common and Jungle Mynas, and Black and Brahminy Kites. We noted the presence of several Black-crowned Night Herons, along with Pond Herons and Grey Herons (er, ALL the birds were looking grey this morning!),

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with Little Grebes looking bright in their breeding plumage.

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Spot-billed Ducks and Little Grebes.

Prasad told us about the five facets of a bird which would be needed to identify them. (What are they?…come along next Sunday, to find out!) Several of us were on our first birding outing; and it was very impressive to see Manvi, Sha and Vismay there, bright and early.Children are the way to take birdwatching to the future!

Nor were the birds the only things that we observed. Acacia, Mahogany, Mango, Tamarind, Gulmohar and other trees were identified, and I showed Manvi the Passion Flower (she was unwilling to try the fruit, so I ate them!) the Devil’s Coach Whip, and other wildflowers that we often ignore on our nature walks. Beautiful Damselflies

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and a Scoliid Wasp

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kept us entranced.

The butterflies, too, were not very active because of the dull weather; a few Grass Yellows, one solitary Common Lime, a couple of little Blues, a Common Mormon and a Crimson Rose were the only ones I could see. I am sure the rest of them were sitting cosily under the sheltering leaves and thinking what fools these human beings were, to walk around in such weather!

We did make an effort to come back and walk on the deep (bund) side of the lake, but the rain put a stop to that, too…and for the first time in years, as we dripped our way, we forgot to open up and share our snacks! (I hope it will not happen again, either, for a long time!)

We learnt more about the lakes, the way they were constructed, and the way they have been encroached and destroyed; Naveen, who is a doctor,talked expressively about the need to protect our water bodies.

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Sri Eshwarappa also provided some fresh information, and we all dispersed, some of us going home to waiting families and engagements.

Some of us adjourned to a nearby darshini, where the absence of places to sit made us split into two groups, one eating in the “outstanding” area downstairs, and the other shivering in the unneccessary air-conditioning of “Dana Pani” restaurant, upstairs! Piping hot pongal, dosas, iddli and vadas were despatched with coffee.

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A lot of intormation was shared about various eating places in and around Bangalore. Prasad left early to attend the talk ( by Sri Karthik, att the National College Jayanagar) on the history of Bangalore, but not all of us were able to make it, the call of breakfast, and other commitments, being stronger!

We started birding here:

https://goo.gl/maps/WzqPpuGCu4vnRoZg8

The eBird list (49 species, an excellent count for such a rainy morning!) is at

https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S59069325

I have put up my FB album at

and for non FB friends, a Flickr Album at

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Pouring out…ghee and grief

August 16, 2019

The young daughter pours the oblation of ghee into the sacred fire of the “havan”…and her tears pour down her tender young face.

My own eyes fill as I see the sorrow of the toughest part of growing up. If Agni and Swaha do not take her love up to her father, surely those twin streams of salt and grief will do so.

IMG_6042 Outpouring of ghee and grief, Blr, 160819

The colours of freedom

August 15, 2019

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I pray that all the colours live together in harmony.
We need independence from bigotry and corruption…into that heaven of freedom, O Mother, let my country awake.

The Himalayan foothills of Bangalore

August 9, 2019

Bangalore is supposed to be sited in the Dakshin (anglicized to Deccan) plateau. But increasingly, I find myself in the foothills of the Himalaya, when I look at the traffic going past me.

It begins, as it always does, with gentle slopes. Vehicles gently climb over them. There are, even here, little chasms to be wary of…a broken spring, or a scraped tyre, might result. But we soon leave the gentle foothills and approach the greater elevations; traffic needs to slow down, and then push, with throbbing motors, up and down.

Next come the Big Challenges. Here, a gauntlet is thrown down to the passing motor vehicles, not only in the height, but in the series of hills that the cars or buses have to navigate. Thud-grind, thud-grind, thud-grind, they all go.

Since Venkateshwara’s abode is in the Seven Hills, and Shiva lives in the Himalaya, every house owner in my city deems it a matter of pride to have two hills flanking his or her residence. As the traffic slows to a crawl and stumbles over the hills, the home owners’ ego is satisfied…they, too, are god-like!

I just walked back from my daughter’s home to mine, and I counted 19 small hillocks and 8 fairly large hills, with three or four deep abysses that an unlucky motorist could fall into and never be heard from again….our hilly, and at times mountainous, road topography is known by the rather tame name of “speed bumps” or “rumble strips”…little does the unimaginative BBMP (Brihat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike) know that they are helping us create a City of the Hills on a plateau!

I am looking forward to a time when it will become a matter of routine for roads to be laid in a series of ridges, with the mandatory small and big potholes nestling in the troughs. We can look forward to cars having treadmill belts instead of tyres. We can calculate our riding comfort in BPM…Bumps Per Minute. Every road will clamour for supremacy in these numbers, with the highest-achieving ones resembling corrugated cardboard, rather than a passageway for vehicles. We can count the number of pillion riders (and drivers) flung off two-wheelers. Perhaps, to top the whole thing off, we can introduce square or triangular tyres.

And since there will be ridges and bumps everywhere, there will be no need to even think of putting up signs about these!

The waking child

August 9, 2019

t’s a reasonable time in the morning. The little body next to me stirs; the eyes flutter open, then close again. A little turn, and two little arms twine themselves around my neck, as the child cuddles up for a few minutes. Then the eyes, and the mouth, smile up at me. A few quiet remarks, a short prayer, and then, the child is up.

This…this…is the way children should wake up every day…not the daily ritual of “getupgetupGETUP it’s getting late for school!”, with the entire routine of Ayurveda medicines and tablets, school uniforms and shoes, bags and notebooks, breakfast and milk, have to be got through before the child boards that unforgiving school bus, too early in the morning. But…I am talking of Utopia.

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The Gedious, 040819

August 7, 2019

K2: As soon as my maths teacher writes out a sum on the board, I call out the answer. so she called me a gedious.
Me: G D S?
K2: No! GEDIOUS! That means I am VERY intelligent!

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Here he is, the Bubble-wrap Monster.

….This very modest guy may be a gedious in Maths, but his English….!

Cryptic crosswords

August 2, 2019

I love my morning cryptic crossword. It’s a very Brit thing…I am hopelessly addicted. I do the Deccan Herald every day; the compiler of the Eco Times crossword changed a while ago, and I am just getting to grips with the compiler’s mentality.

I like the Indian Express,too, and though it’s not my favourite, I do the Business Standard one too, just to keep my hand in with different compilers. The Hindu cryptic is a smug and self-satisfied crossword that I do not like, but I will do it if I can’t find anything else. But my great favourite is the cryptic crossword on Saturday in the Deccan Herald. It’s so witty…it often sets me laughing!

I remember the days in Chennai when the Eco Times had just been introduced; there were small prizes (such as cosmetics) for the first person to finish, and I loved winning all the junkola!

This morning, I posted a “Crossbird” in one of the birding groups I belong to; at once, someone called

Minchu Kulkarni

who works for

Amuselabs

pinged me, and helped me make a proper online crossword of it. All the clues are names of birds (no technical stuff, just general names)..you can try it out

here

Have fun, and let me know how it went…it’s very simple indeed. Today’s learning…thank you, Minchu! Looking forward to learning more from you.

Bngbirds 4th Sunday outing: Jakkur Kere, 280719

August 1, 2019

Email to Bngbirds egroup:

Jakkur Lake, in the northern part of what is now “Bruhat (Greater) Bangalore”, is a waterbody which has many birds both resident and visiting, so I decided to make it the destination for the July outing. It seems to be popular with a lot of birders, too, and more than 40 of us (about 20 more people joined after I clicked the group photo below)

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met at the peepal tree where we usually go to see the roosting Alexandrine Parakeets.

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I was delighted to find that there were many children present too.

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Abir using his binoculars

That morning, however, was cloudy and overcast, and perhaps because of this, the Parakeet numbers were very low…not more than 3 or 4 at at time flew in, and even these did not stay long on the tree as they usually do. However, many people in the group had not seen these birds before, and even the sight of one or two of them, silhouetted against the monsoon gloom, was enough to make them quite happy. We also spotted some Flowerpeckers in the bushes nearby (though the entire area seems to have been cleared for yet more construction) and Ashwin pointed out a Pied Kingfisher flying across, no doubt to an appointment with breakfast.

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Binoculars out!

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Red-rumped Swallow.

Having also watched several of what I call “CKMP” (Crows, Kites, Mynas and PIgeons…the most common birds in the Bangalore skies!)

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A Brahminy Kite shows its wings and prey.

We once again explained that the common raptors were kites and not “Eagles”, we went to the main entrance of the lake, and entered.

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Pea Blue.

Though I was certainly happy at the large turnout, the disadvantage of large numbers was immediately apparent, as the group straggled out, and it was impossible to share information about the birds, trees, insects and plants with any but those who were near me.However, I had already introduced a contingent of very experienced “north Bangalore birders” …I would like to express my appreciation that so many people associated with eBird (well, OK, Bird Count India!) and some expert naturalists/birders made it for the outing Two birding scopes added to the experience of the participants, many of whom are new to birding.

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Suhel shows some young birders how to use the birding scope.

Ashwin, Harsha, Mittal, Payal, Subhadra, Suhel…you are not people I get to go birding with often, and it was a bonus! All of the experienced birders shared sightings and information with whoever was near them.

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Instead of a Spotted Owlet, we got a Spotted Dove!

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Senegal Golden Dartlet (Damselfly).

We found lots of Spot-billed Pelicans, Black-headed Ibis, and Grey Herons roosting in the central island;

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Birds in the central island

Little Grebes, Eurasian Coots (so aptly called “Naamada Pakshi” in Kannada, because of the white “naama”-like mark on their foreheads!) and Purple Swamphens could be seen along the shallows, with Pond Herons punctuating the shore. Little and Great Cormorats, and a couple of Darters, flew overhead. A lone mongoose ran along the opposite shore, disappearing in a trice, Several “Jakkur Lake regulars” like Venkat Mangudi and R Venkatesh, took us to a mango and jamun orchard

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The magnificient trees in the orchard reminded me of the avenue at Hulimangala.

adjacent to the lake, where a few more Parakeets, both Rose-ringed and Alexandrine, rewarded us. However, of the Spotted Owlets and the Mottled Wood Owl which are often sighted here…there was no sign! A Rufous Treepie, and our state bird, the Indian Roller

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gave us “darshan”, and we returned to the lake bund.

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Datura, a poisonous plant.

Out came some snacks.

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The masala peanuts which I brought, and a variety of biscuits, kept our tummies from growling too loudly. By this time, I realized that I could see very few people from the original group; so I collected some people who were interested, and we went to see the 10th century inscriptions, one mentioning Jakkur,

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which have been placed at the

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Byre Gowda Ranga Mandira, a public open-air theate space nearby. I explained, as best I could, about the “veera gallu” or hero stone, which depicts the “atma balidaana”

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or self-sacrfice by a king, being a ritual beheading with his own sword, as a token of gratitude to the deity.

Musing on both the birds and our history and heritage, some of us adjourned to New Krishna Sagar (another recommendation by Venkat!)

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Common Baron mud-puddling in front of New Krishna Sagar.

and then back to daily life.

I’ve put up my photos on an FB album,

here

And for the many non-FB users, on a Flickr album,

here
The eBird list for the morning is at https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S58517024

I have shared the list with those whose ids I have; if anyone wants me to share it with them, they can send me their eBird ids or email ids that they use on eBird.

Looking forward to meeting many of you in August…and thank you for the many words of appreciation about my write-ups and blogposts!

Animal rescue..and afterwards

July 30, 2019

As I stepped into the shower, I noticed a tiny little bug crawling along the ledge where I keep my soap and shampoo. As the water started splashing around, I suddenly realized that a waterdrop had quite inundated the tiny creature. Full of compassion, I used my fingernail to delicately lift up the bug to the vertical wall, where the water would drip off it.

I wondered if I had damaged it, and waited anxiously for a while, looking at the motionless little thing. After a while, it slowly began to crawl up the wall. Brimming with happiness at this animal rescue, I stepped out of the shower stall. Wrapping my towel around me, I walked out of the bathoom, quickly swatting a pesky mosquito.

The Oleander Hawk Moth in verse….

July 25, 2019

Two highly-qualified friends, Rachit and Shubham, were debating about whether the photo of a moth posted on the group we all belong to, was “Daphnis nerii” or “Daphnis hypothous”.

In gratitude, I posted a little doggerel about the scientific name, in a lighter vein….

It may be Daphnis nerii or hypothous…
It makes no difference to mostofous.
More general is our talk:
It’s “Moth, Oleander Hawk”…
We have no other theory or hypothesous!

Here’s the beautiful moth:

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