Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The Fan-throated Lizard, Ragihalli, 170916

September 20, 2016

Aravind, Sharmila, Raji, Tarachand and I went to Ragihalli

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At the sheet rock, I spotted a lizard whose markings did not match those of the more usually found Peninsular Rock Agama.

One of the great things about the internet is that posting a photo on FaceBook usually yields the required information. Sagar Sarang, a FaceBook friend, promptly identified this as the

FAN-THROATED LIZARD

and I was very happy to learn this, as I’ve never found the reptile this close to Bangalore before. These lizards are found in thin forests and scrub jungles, but this was the first time I’ve seen one so close the city of Bangalore.

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Fan-throated lizards are also “agamid” lizards, but are not Agamas. The Wiki entry says, “The species is found mostly on the ground in open ground patches in thin forests. When disturbed this lizard sometimes runs with a bipedal gait.” “Bipedal gait” means, they run on two legs!

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The “fan-throat” called the gular flap, is usually whitish, or cream in colour.

Heres an image of the lizard with its “fan” out:

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However, during the breeding season, males develop some amazing colours in their gular flaps, and males take up positions on rocks and flash their gular appendages, to both attract females, as well as warn off other males.

Here’s a short video, by Mandar Mote of the lizard throwing its fan out:

The colours of the throat scales are exquisite!

The lizard that we saw is definitely a gravid (carrying eggs) female, but her unusual markings are what made me look closely, and find a less common denizen of the Bannerghatta forest area.

Kaikondranahalli Kere walk for the Foundation School, 100916

September 15, 2016

Bithi Agrawal, seen here with one of her school’s buses

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who runs the two

Foundation Schools in Whitefield and Gunjur

called me up, and as part of her dream to educate the children “outside the box”, asked me if I could take the children on a birding/nature walk at

Kaikondranahalli Kere (Lake)

on the 10th of September, 20016.

This being one of the activities I love, I agreed eagerly, and found that the school has just over a hundred children!

I immediately pressed my friends into action and it was the six of us

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L to R, Hariharan IS, Chandu Bandi, his son Krishna Virat, Aravind A M, Janhvi Vyas, and Rishov Biswas, who took the chattering band of children (there were about 80, plus 6 teachers to keep them in some semblance of order!) on the path around the lake. It was very kind of my friends to volunteer, as they always do!

We sighted a fair amount of birds, because the waterfowl are generally to be found at the lake all day, and we did have good sightings of the woodland birds, too, in the bushes around the banks.

You can see the eBird list for the morning

here

I could not concentrate on the bird photography, obviously, but here are a few birds we saw:

The

BLACK DRONGO :

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SMALL GREEN BEE-EATERS :

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SPOT-BILLED PELICAN :

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BRAHMINY KITE

(this one’s not fully grown yet)

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Nor were birds the only interesting things that we saw. Here are some “six-footers”!

This is a tiny

Parnara Swift :

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An equally tiny

DARK GRASS BLUE :

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This Dragonly is called the

COMMON PICTURE-WING :

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a GREAT EGGFLY :

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These are part of what I call “Life Under Foot” which is, often, life under an inch in size!

We saw several interesting forms of plant life, too.

Small wildflowers like this

ALDER

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Here’s a tree with beautiful star-shaped seed pods:

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Jungli Jilebi

often used as a substitute for tamarind:

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Some of the children did a great job of keeping bird lists, a good field-trip activity:

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The children all stopped at the restroom area for their snack:

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Here’s Rishov, pointing out a bird to the children, while Bith seems impressed by the dedication of my friends:

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Bithi (on the right in this photo) organized a lot of things, including having the restrooms opened up for the children.

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She also treated us to a great breakfast at

Murugan Iddli Shop

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Here’s a big thank you to Bithi, the children of the Foundation School, and my birding friends, for a very enjoyable morning!

Lottie does gymnastics, 130916

September 13, 2016

Today K1’s doll-or-friend-or-whatever, Lottie, did some gymnastics. She was, apparently, the last competitor.

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Here’s the gymnastic display:

Here’s a close-up of the gymnastics area. The green bed-of-nails type thing is the trampoline, but after that, the details got a bit sketchy.

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As K1 says in the video, there’s no doubt who the winner was…and here’s Lottie, VERY agile as her head is turned backwards and you can see her bum!

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We have backward castes in India,but forward butts!

Since my bus to Palakkad, Kerala, to celebrate Onam with my friend’s parents got cancelled because of the untoward incidents in Bangalore, I am spending the day with The Boods and it’s a joy!

Bird photography tourism

September 12, 2016

Another day, another picture of the Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher from one of the organized Shoot-the-Kingfisher tours with hundreds of likes. One of these tours has a rule that “members shall not move from the position assigned to them when shooting the kingfisher” ..or words to that effect. Charges are several thousand rupees from point X, which seems to be about 2 miles away from the bird’s home.(You have to get to, and from, point X at your own cost.) Each “Oh Dee Kay Eff” photo must cost lakhs, if you add the cost of the equipment. But, ofkose, all those likes are worth it!….Bird photography tourism at its best.

Fruit Salad, by K2, 110916

September 11, 2016

I cannot imagine life without these brats…

Savitiri

September 2, 2016

I see you moving in haste
To get the next thing
That will ease your husband’s pain
Just a little bit.
Night and day, you manage so many things:
Your job, your suffering in-laws, parents, and others.
Your household, visitors..
Your own pain, that you do not talk of.
You show him a smiling face, always.
You did all this through the years,
Twenty years ago;
For the past eight months,
With less and less to sustain your hope,
You have continued to be a rock of support
To your ill spouse…cocooning him in your love
And selfless care. Yet, you’ve also found time
To visit other friends during important times
In their lives.Your generosity, your large heart,
The incredible amount of hard work…
I cannot even begin to be like you.
I can only admire the wonderful person you are,
And be intensely grateful that you are my friend
Since that first day I saw you, as a bride…
You learnt music from me, but you have taught me
So much over the years.
I truly believe that, like Savitri,
You would bargain with Yama
For the life of your spouse.
Your name means victory…
You are victorious over the many petty thoughts
And failings which the rest of us have.
My dearest friend…you are more than I can ever understand.
I wish there was a way
I could take some of your pain and your tiredness.
But I stand near you, helpless…and just watch you suffer.
Beloved friend, you are the sister I never had…
I wish I could take away your difficulties
And give you the life of happiness that you deserve.
Life…has not been fair to you:
And yet, you never complain, but go about each day
Coping, managing…and smiling when you can.

The lamp flickers….

August 24, 2016

I get the news
That a life, once vigorous,
Is ebbing.
I do not know how long
The tide will remain
And when the waters, receding,
Will take the light with them.
The skies darken,
But there is no beauty from the stars;
Instead, there is the gloomy
Overcast darkness of heavy clouds overhead.
Helpless, powerless, I remain
Distant: no amount of my love
Can let me experience what that ebbing life
And those who are part of the family
Are going through now. I move…
Like a pendulum, from worried grief,
To acceptance of what must be.
A life of trying to think positively
Does not allow me to let go of hope altogether.
Perhaps, something will work?
Some herb will stem the irrevocable tide
Of galloping illness?
Hope, hopelessness: if I swing so uncontrollably between these two,
I can only imagine what those who are close must be feeling.
On top of everything else lies guilt:
Did I do enough when I could?
Is there anything I can do now…
Which I am not doing?
Why am I healthy, when my friend lies there
With health leaching out?
My mind tosses and turns,
It seeks peace only in meditation.
Let me let go for a while…and try and sort myself
Find inner peace in the midst of the turmoil.
Life and death are, and will be, eternal mysteries.
Let me not try and solve them,
Eroding myself in the effort.

Painted Grasshoppers, Valparai-Bangalore Road, 150816

August 19, 2016

On the road back from Valparai, my friend Manivannan spotted, in a small empty lot near the place where we stopped for our evening chai,

this

Painted Grasshopper

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The wiki entry on this gorgeous-looking creature says that the grasshopper feeds on the poisonous plant Calotropis gigantea.

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Certainly, these grasshoppers had stripped all the Calatropis (milkweed) plants nearby.

Striking in appearance….The mature grasshopper has canary yellow and turquoise stripes on its body, green tegmina with yellow spots, and pale red hind wings

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The wiki also mentions the interesting fact that these grasshoppers, when squeezed or handled, upon slight pinching of the head or abdomen, the half-grown immature form ejects liquid in a sharp and sudden jet, with a range of two inches or more, from a dorsal opening between the first and second abdominal segments. The discharge is directed towards the pinched area and may be repeated several times. The liquid is pale and milky, slightly viscous and bad-tasting,containing cardiac glycosides that the insect obtains from the plant it feeds upon.

Grasshoppers can eat their way rapidly through vegetation, being a veritable plague of locusts. They are plant-eaters, sometimes becoming serious pests of cereals, vegetables and pasture, especially when they swarm in their millions as locusts and destroy crops over wide areas.

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Most grasshoppers are polyphagous, eating vegetation from multiple plant sources,but some are omnivorous and also eat animal tissue and animal faeces. In general their preference is for grasses, including many cereals grown as crops.

Grasshoppers seem extraordinarily sensitive to their environment through many of their sense. On the side of the head are a pair of large compound eyes which give a broad field of vision and can detect movement, shape, colour and distance. There are also three simple eyes (ocelli) on the forehead which can detect light intensity, a pair of antennae containing olfactory (smell) and touch receptors, and mouthparts containing gustatory (taste) receptors. At the front end of the abdomen there is a pair of tympanal organs for sound reception. There are numerous fine hairs covering the whole body that act as mechanoreceptors (touch and wind sensors), and these are most dense on the antennae, the palps (part of the mouth), and on the cerci at the tip of the abdomen.There are special receptors (campaniform sensillae) embedded in the cuticle of the legs that sense pressure, too.

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A large grasshopper such as a locust can jump about a metre (twenty body lengths) without using its wings!

What a fascinating creature this is, and it was sheer chance that led me to this sighting…thank you, Mani!

The Common Banded Peacock, Road to Valparai, 130816

August 17, 2016

One of the unexpected sights on our journey to Valparai was that of this

Common Banded Peacock

as we stopped to bird en route.

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It was one of the many marvellous things that met my eye on the long (500 km) journey, back to the hairpin bends that elevated us to the heights of Valparai!

Mottled Wood Owl, Lalbagh, 120816

August 12, 2016

Every now and then, the “experts” start fussing that the

Mottled Wood Owls

of Lalbagh have “disappeared”. Immediately, of course the birders and bird photographers of Bangalore are blamed (interestingly never the hundreds of walkers and visitors that go past the place where the owls are.)

So, after a couple of reports that the Owls could not be found, one of them delighted me in its usual copse behind the giant Bauhinia creeper.

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The sexes are alike, according to the Wiki entry, so I don’t know if this is a he or a she!

I took a short video as it hopped across, out of sight in the very low light.

The music is “Night Vision” which is what I needed to see the Owl in the low light…and the band playing it is Bird Creek, which, too, I thought appropriate!

Click on the name of the bird to find out more about this beautiful creature that shares one of Bangalore’s lung spaces with us!