Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The games Kalyan plays, 200416

April 22, 2016

It’s very difficult to get videos of Kalyan, as he’s too fast for me, and the ambient noise with two children is always too high!

But I finally got him with his Tangram, which he’s quite good at.


He started putting the pieces that matched the shapes.


There was a victorious cackle:


And then he proceeded to make the pieces into the shape of a “P”:

Another game he loves is hiding. “Kalyan engEy?” I must call out to the sofa and the suspicious-looking pillows. See…they are “armed”!


Then our hero shows himself, and I have to yell, “dOkkAnEy!” (abbreviation of “idho irukkAnEy” which means, “HERE he is!”


He’s an elf with personality plus!

SLAS/FPF 1st Sat bird walk, Forest Park, 020416

April 19, 2016

See what happens when I procrastinate…Mark does all the work for me! See his account of the bird walk, at the bottom of this blogpost.


I’d planned to make a blogpost of what is likely, for me, to be the last birding walk in Forest Park for a long time to come, as my daughter and her family are moving to my country and city (Bangalore, India) for a few years. When they move back to the US, it will be
closer to where my son in law’s parents live (Portland, Maine.)


Flowering Dogwood.


Charles the Great Horned Owl.

Mark Glenshaw


has been watching him for many years now in Forest Park.

St.Louis, and Forest Park, have been nothing short of a birding
treasury for me. So thank you, Amy,



and the several other friends who have led my footsteps on the path of learning more about the birds of the Midwest.

Karen Meyer of the St.Louis Audubon Society.

The group has been so supportive…and on Sunday, I was touched to get affectionate farewells and hugs from people whom I’ve come to know quite well…. not always by name but by my own descriptions (eg. “Pretty Lady With a Huge Hat and a Great Sense of Humor, who looks up at the warblers and says, ‘My neck is dead!’ “)

One of the things I like very much about the monthly walks at Forest Park is the fact that Amy, Mark and the others teach me not just about the birds but the Whole Picture…what flowers are blooming now, if seasonal changes mean early fruiting, how that will affect the birds’ diets…interesting pieces of the jigsaw that make up the complete picture of what I observe in the natural world. Neither can I forget the generous offer of all the Tent Moth Caterpillars I want to take home to India!

Talking of countries, it was so cold I thought I was in Chile, but the first bird we saw at our meeting point was a Turkey, ha,ha. Seriously, I am seeing a wild turkey in Forest Park after quite a long gap, too.




Downy Woodpecker.

Brown-headed Cowbird.


Red-headed Woodpecker.


White-throated Sparrow.


Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.

In case you have an FB account, my album of the morning is


and my Flickr album is


I took a short video of the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

(it was nice to see ALL the woodpeckers of Forest Park in one morning…the Hairy Woodpecker was, indeed, a Hairy!)

From my e-Bird list, it’s obvious that it was a very productive morning for me, especially the very early start at the Prairie area, and then meeting Mark ahead of the walk to take a look at the Great Horned Owl. My list is


Mark, the first Kinglet was decided as a Golden-crowned one by Karen Meyer, and the last one, a definite Ruby-crowned Kinglet.

As Amy gave me a ride back to the Visitors Center in the Alligator (a vehicle I have never been in before…another “lifer”!),


thus cutting my walk home in half and saving me time, a Turkey Vulture, “stumbling” about in the air above us in typical “Ol’ Turkey Buzzard” fashion, completed my sightings, I thought…but a clear sighting of a Cooper’s Hawk actually wound up my morning.

Do I need to say it?….I do. I am going to miss St.Louis, Forest Park, and these monthly bird walks, very much indeed. If any of you can plan for a trip to India I’d be happy to take you around in the Western Ghats.

Here’s Mark’s email to the MObirds listserv:

On Mon, Apr 4, 2016 at 8:11 PM, Mark Glenshaw wrote:
Morning, all.

An excellent weekend of birding in Forest Park was had.

An early rendezvous with my friend, Deepa Mohan, yielded a Red-tailed Hawk, American obins, Blue Jays, White-throated Sparrows and the highlight-Charles, the male of the Great Horned Owls I study.

We drove over to Kennedy Forest to meet up for the Beginner Birder Walk and as we parked we were treated to the sight of a female Wild Turkey! I had not seenthis species in the park since 2009 and had just remarked about this to Deepa less than 20 minutes before we saw this very mellow bird. She grazed around one of the picnic pavilions before moving into the woods. My fellow co-leader on the walk, Amy Witt, who works for Forest Park Forever was also excited to see the Wild Turkey as she had not seen this species in the park before this. Other early arriving folks got to see this bird and Brown-headed Cowbirds; an FOY for me.

As the walk began another personal FOY was seen, two Brown Thrashers. It was a bountiful day for Woodpeckers with almost every species seen of the ones observed in the park: Northern Flickers, Red-bellied, Red-headed, Downy, a semi-confirmed Hairy. The highlight was the more migratory and elusive Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker and we saw 2-3 of them. I had not seen the
species for a few years.
A few kinglets were seen but we were unable to see the crown of these birds so we could not determine which these species we saw. More Brown Thrashers, an Eastern Phoebe, an Eastern Towhee, many vocalizing Blue Jays, an accipiter-most likely a Cooper’s Hawk along with American Robins, Common Grackles, Tufted Titmice, Black-capped Chickadees, White-Throated Sparrows, added to our growing list. The female Wild Turkey was seen later in the walk, which allowed those who had missed its earlier appearance to get a look at it.

The walk ended with a warbler sighting, most likely a Yellow-Rumped Warbler but it was not a PID. Next month’s walk will be back in Kennedy Forest concentrating on migrants. Any and all birders skilled with warblers nd other migrants are encouraged to join us to help us all learn these birds more thoroughly.

Yesterday I saw my FOY Barn Swallows in Steinberg Prairie and my FOY Common Snapping Turtle in the non-hatchery pond in the fish hatchery complex. Many Green Frogs and Bullfrogs in the water way around Steinberg Prairie. Many Red-eared Sliders (turtles) basking in the sun or swimming both in and around Steinberg and the fish hatchery ponds. I then led an owl prowl for some vry excited and grateful nature photographers, who had a blast taking pictures of Charles in the setting sun. This was owl prowl # 21 of the year.

Sincerely, Mark
Mark H.X. Glenshaw
City of St. Louis
Forest Park Owls
The Audubon Society of Missouri’s Wild Bird Discussion Forum
Archives / Subscription options / ASM Website / Email the list owners

ABA Birding Code of Ethics

ASM Spring Meeting: April 29 – May 1, 2016 at Bunker Hill Retreat near
Mountain View.

Three activities, STL, 250316

March 26, 2016

This morning, I sent The Booda to brush his teeth. I didn’t hear any “chikachikachikachik” so I investigated…and found a Boy In A Bucket.


His mother has been commuting by cycle, and I caught her sailing off:


And here’s KTB, saying that pigs can fly.


Common birds, at home and in Forest Park…. 16 and 180316

March 19, 2016

Having reached St.Louis in response to an appeal from Ye Daughter (the call came on Wednesday, the ticket was bought on Friday, and I was here just past midnight on Wednesday!) I decided to peep out at the birds that were coming to the front yard as I could not sleep, on the 16th; and on the 18th, I had two hours to walk to Forest Park, walk around the Prairie area, and walk back.

So…here are the winged beauties that delighted me at both places!

At home:

Northern Mockingbird



Dark-eyed Junco ,

a winter visitor



House Sparrow

imported from other countries, and regarded as a pest in America:



Common Housefinch (male)

which is a local winter visitor:


the female:



Mourning Dove



Northern Cardinal (male)

iconic bird of St.Louis:


The female, blending right into the colours of the Japanese Maple:



American Robin




European Starling

another import that seems to be overruning local species now:


Four kinds of Woodpeckers that I saw within the space of an hour:


Red-headed Woodpecker

(on which the cartoon character, Woody Woodpecker, is based)



Red-bellied Woodpecker



Downy Woodpecker



Northern Flicker




Song Sparrow



Wood Duck




Common Grackle




Red-winged Blackbird



Red-tailed Hawk



I’ll add more birds as I photograph them (especially that elusive Blue Jay!)

Let me close with another look at, and from, the Cardinal:



March 12, 2016

A tanka written by Arun Anantharaman

She tells him We fight
too often for a couple
on the first floor, he
wonders how far their voices
carry when they reconcile.

made me write this:

The loud words, the angry decibels
Of accusation and recrimination
Are over. The quiet, the peace
Of reconciliation steals over
The scene of the recent quarrel.
Hands are tucked into hands,
Tears shed,
Melting away the rage
(That battled over two minds and hearts)
Into the softness of forgiveness,
The awareness that the whole loud episode
Was not worth the furious energy spent upon it.
Anger is harsh and often seen by all.
Reconciliation is softer, quieter,
Hidden away, known only to those
Who are involved in it:
A sweetness, and the serenity of resurgent love.

Another rare visitor to our country..GKVK, Bangalore, 02,03,04,050316!

March 10, 2016

I had one rare visitor…my friend Abhijit Menon-Sen (AMS) who is building a home in Lweshal, in Uttaranchal, in the lap of the Himalaya.

The day before he arrived, I also got the news of another rare visitor, this time, one that’s usually not found in our country….the

Swinhoe’s or Brown-rumped Minivet


that’s usually found in the Far East…in Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. It was quite a thrill to birders in Bangalore that this bird, along with the not-common

Ashy Minivet ,



had been found in the campus of Gandhi Krishi Vigyan Kendra (GKVK, also known as the University of Agricultural Sciences, or UAS.)


Ramit Singal is also working on the Great Backyard Bird Count at the campus, he called us over, and with my friend Thomas Job, off we went to see the bird. We had to park the cars outside and walk a bit.



We met other interested birdersthere, too, and while AMS contentedly worked his way through the sightings of “plains birds”, which he said were quite exciting for him, we came to the place where the two Minivets had arrived, as part of a flock of Small Minivets. The latter had flown away, leaving the two stars of the day to flit around in the clutter of two bare trees.

These Minivets are predominantly white and black, unlike other Minivets in India, which come in a range of oranges and reds. As they flew about in the clutter of twigs and branches, it was easy to follow them with the binoculars, but not so easy to get a good shot of them!

Since this was a very exciting and rare bird, I proceeded to go on three successive days to the campus, and made sure that several of my friends were able to see this visitor, too.


Here, wearing blue tees, are Ashwin and Bhanu, who are students at GKVK and first sighted and identified the bird.


Other interesting sightings were of the

Indian Pitta


and large numbers of Orioles: The Eurasian Golden Oriole, the Black-naped Oriole and the Black-hooded Oriole, all sitting on the same tree, made a rewarding sight! A Shikra, Blue-faced Malkoha, Black-headed Cuckoo-shrikes…the list of birds was quite a delight in itself!

Here are two pics
of the Black-naped Oriole:



I also enjoyed looking at the various trees and the plants on campus, and found a lot of interesting ones, such as this

Cochlospermum vitifolium


or this tree called the Buddha’s Coconut:



Sterculium urens:


and the tart, fleshy fruit of the Japanese Persimmon:


Of course, we never forgot about food, and had a great breakfast each day at the UAS Canteen, the main one or the “assistant” one:







Let me close with another shot of the Swinhoe’s Minivet:


Organizing outings

March 7, 2016

Many people say, “Let me know when you go somewhere, I’ll join you”. So I call up or message people.

Here are some of responses I get to “Hi, I’m thinking of going to ABC, would you like to join in?”

1. “Yes, I’m in!” and they come along, and we have a great time. Good.

2. “Oh…not sure…let me check and tell you…” which means I have to keep calling back to check. Not good.

3. No response. I don’t know if their phone is busy, if they’ve not checked their mail. Not good.

4. No response, and a message after the outing saying, “I saw it late.” Not good.

5. “Who else is coming?” Decision to be made based on this. Not good.

6. “Yes, I’m in!” and then a last-minute cancellation, some with valid reasons, some..not. Not good.

7. “Yes, I’m in!” “No, I’m out!” “I changed my mind, I’m in!” “Sorry, I’m out” (and so it goes…)…Not good.

8. Several conditions are stated. (Eg “I will come if my maid comes to work the previous day” or “If I can finish my work assignments”)This is good or not good depending on the conditions! (“I’ll join in if I feel like it” is the one I like the least.)

9. “Sorry, I won’t be able to make it.” Clear reasons given. Not good, but I know where I stand.

I agree that this variety will always be there…but it’s tough to organize outings, especially when transportation has to be arranged, too. I hate leaving people out, so yes, I often take extra effort for it.

My thanks to the dear friends who agree, join in, and ensure that the trip is productive and fun.

My thanks, also to the friends who clearly state why they can’t come, and do join in when they can.

To NRI’s in distant lands…

March 1, 2016

NRI Poem
ना इधर के रहे
ना उधर के रहे
बीच में लटकते रहे

ना India को भुला सके
ना videsh को अपना सके
NRI बन के काम चलाते रहे

ना हिन्दी को छोड़ सके
ना अंग्रेजी को पकड़ सके
देसी accent में गोरो को
confuse करते रहे

ना Christmas tree बना सके
ना बच्चो को समझा सके
दिवाली पर Santa बनके तोहफे बाँटते रहे

ना shorts पहन सके
ना सलवार कमीज़ छोड़ सके
Jeans पर कुरता पहेन कर इतराते रहे

ना नाश्ते में Donut खा सके
ना खिचड़ी कढी को भुला सके
Pizza पर मिर्च छिड़ककर
मज़ा लेते रहे

ना गरमी को भुला सके
ना Snow को अपना सके
खिड़की से सूरज को
Beautiful Day कहते रहे

अब आयी बारी
जाने की तो
हाथ में mineral पानी की बोतल लेकर चलते रहे

लेकिन वहां पर………….

ना भेल पूरी खा सके
ना लस्सी पी सके
पेट के दर्द से तड़पते रहे
तिरफला और डाइज़िंन
से काम चलाते रहे

ना मच्छर से भाग सके
ना खुजली को रोक सके
Cream से दर्दों को छुपाते रहे

ना इधर के रहे
ना उधर के रहे
कमबख्त कहीं के ना रहे

Passport renewal application online….

February 29, 2016

oday Mr R, 88 years old, and I, applied for a renewal of his passport online. We had to apply for him and for Mrs R. He’d already downloaded the application form for himself, fill it up, save it as a .xml file. What we did: we registered his name, and got an authentication email, where we clicked on the link to activate the account. Hah, sounds simple, doesn’t it! This took about 2 hours. (“This ‘copy the letters and numbers in the image’…is that an ‘I’ or a ‘1’ ? Is that a zero or an ‘O’? Is that a J or an I?…and so it went.)

Then we downloaded the form once again for Mrs R, filled that up and saved it, and registered for her. Mr R used his Yahoo id for that. We waited for 2 hours…no authentication email.

The process, as I anticipated, took some more hours. While waiting, I went and visited another friend in the same apartment complex, and Mr R had a much-needed short nap.

I came email. So back we went to the registration process, and we realized that Mr R’s gmail id was now linked to his account. Mine, too, was linked to my account (I renewed my passport last year.) Since neither could be used, we used his son’s email id, and asked him to click on the activation link. Hurrah! Success.

The ultimate joke was at the last step. After uploading the filled-up e-form, one for each person, we came to a screen which had a box next to “No, I don’t want Passport SMS service”(for status updates about the passport.) There was no “Yes, I want it” box. But when we tried to finish, it said, “You have not ticked the ‘Yes’ box.”

So how did we do that? My konkified brain decided to try it…First I clicked the “No” box. Then I unclicked it. Promptly, a message appeared “Thank you for opting (sic) the SMS service.”

This is the most original way I’ve seen of saying “yes” to reminded me of a shy girl who first says “no” to her swain and then takes the refusal back!

Government software…and the vanquishing of it…gives one a great sense of achievement which good software will not create! But if you want to go through any government process online…keep ALL your documents handy, have a notepad and pen nearby for jotting down various things, and…instead of looking at the clock, be happy you are not looking at the calendar!

Tears for a dead puppy

February 25, 2016

I see a dead puppy.
Crushed, upon the road.
Hit by a speeding car..
Or van, or bus….

I continue to cross the road.
My face does not change
Except that the smile that I usually have
Has been wiped off.
The usual humming on my lips
Is stilled.
Oh, yes, my tears flow..
But not from my eyes.
They drip down into my soul
And heart. I feel
The fleeting nature of life;
The eternal presence of death.
I wonder why the little puppy was born
If it was only to die so soon.

My eyes are as blank and unseeing
As that dead puppy on the road
Whose sight, fixed on Eternity
Drags me too, to the unfathomable
Mystery of what is, and is not.

There are tears..
But only I can feel them.
Tomorrow, the puppy will be gone…
And so, too, my tears of today
As I carry on with life,
Putting off pondering on death
To the next time I see it before me.


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