Posts Tagged ‘bangalore’

The Nano graveyard

July 15, 2017

We went on a nature/birding walk to Kalena Agrahara today, and skirted the lake at IDBI Bank Layout. I was amazed to see several Nano cars parked, and rusting in the monsoon weather.

IMG_8232

There must have been about sixty of the cars, parked all around.

IMG_8234

At a conservative estimate of Rs.2 lakhs per car, that’s Rs. 80 lakhs just wasting away.

IMG_8235

I finally found this banner, saying that these cars apparently belong to this rental initiative:

IMG_8239

The problem in our country seems to be, not lack of good initiatives, but keeping up with them. I have tried to call this number to find out why so many cars are rusting…and could not get through. I will try again on Monday (which should be a working day.) ┬áBut meanwhile…would it not have been better to just donate these cars rather than let such an investment waste away in this fashion?

“Oh…this is a new AirBnB effort!” said my friend Rekha-Ram Lakshmanan, from St.Louis, when he saw the cars. “No,” I riposted, “This is CarBnB!”

What a sad state of affairs. Can anyone throw any more light on this failed initiative?

The blanket comes to life, 080717

July 8, 2017

Sometimes a blanket is quiet…

IMG_7068

But sometimes it becomes active…

IMG_7074

And soon shows its face!

IMG_7070

Life is made up of such joyful moments. This has been his favourite game with me since he was two!

Morning walk, 080717

July 8, 2017

The morning walk, in cool, cloudy weather, is a great joy.

I start by buying the Deccan Herald (the news is always the same, but I love the Saturday cryptic crossword). I walk under the shade of large trees, watching the vegetable, fruits and flower vendors setting up for the morning.

DSC03999

Joggers, walkers, and others pass me or fall behind. Several people stand on the grass, contorting themselves into good health.

Barbets and Koels welcome the morning as they clear their throats, prior to singing their familiar songs.The screech of a squirrel as the resident Shikra catches it. A snatch of Venkatesha Suprabhatham from someone who has apparently not heard of earphones.

The White-Hair-or-No-Hair brigade sitting in easy companionship, with steaming cups of darshini coffee, and the morning papers. Youngsters employed in call centers leaving, looking bleary-eyed.

I come home, tear off yesterday’s sheet on my Murugan calendar, and give thanks for the new day that lies ahead. And yes, I have filled in a few words in the crossword!

T G Halli, 260617

June 27, 2017

A last-minute decision, and six of us, including a birder from Noida, Delhi, who will be moving to Bangalore in a while…off we went, in the predawn dark, to T G Halli Reservoir.

Padma Ramaswamy, Akhilesh Sharma, G S Ramaswamy, Y S Prasanna, Sudha Mahalingam

IMG_6177

It’s getting harder for me to categorize these outings as birding trips, as there is always so much more to observe and enjoy. Just watching the lush greenery that has sprung up after the rains, with the waters reflecting the scudding monsoon clouds, lifts the heart and
brings such joy.

IMG_6298

IMG_6220

As we descended towards the water, we were stopped, literally in our tracks, by a Pioneer bush. This was one where the leaves had all been stripped away by the caterpillars of the Pioneer butterfly,

IMG_6327

IMG_6182

which had then pupated on the branches and twigs.

IMG_6183

Many of the butterflies had just emerged or were emerging…

IMG_6201

IMG_6199

and those which had taken on their new form were flittering around the bush. We could not help watching this dance of new life for a while.

There was also a bird’s nest in the middle of the bush.

IMG_6193

As we walked along the banks of the reservoir, the birds did not disappoint us, either. Beautiful little Indian Silverbills made music scores on the wires.

IMG_6212

Spot-blilled Pelicans, which are now resident birds, floated on the surface,

IMG_6221

…as did Little Grebes and Common Coots. Cormorants…Little, Great, and the distinctive Indian…flew and swam around, occasionally diving beneath the surface in search of food.

Ashy-crowned Sparrow Larks

IMG_6230

and Tawny Larks

IMG_6248
flitted about the landscape.

Ashy Prinias went about picking up prey and going to their nests.

IMG_6266

A Little Ringed Plover sat on a mud flat.

IMG_6255

Since it is the time of year when we can only see RBI (Resident Birds of India!), we watched two Spot-billed Ducks, and a Clamorous Reed Warbler. However, some Tawny Larks, flitting about, a Whte-browed Wagtail behaving according to its name, added to our list, as did this White-browed Bulbul.

IMG_6214

At one point, the sounds were much more than the actual sight of the birds! The Common Hawk Cuckoo called its complaint of “brain-feeever!”, Tailorbirds, Flowerpeckers (presumably the common Pale-billed variety) and Sunbirds added their calls, Grey Francolins and Red-wattled Lapwings (we did see some later) punctuated the general bird song with their phrases, too. We heard the trilling calls of the Green Bee-eaters long before we saw any.

Both the woodland and the water birds continued to delight us as we walked along. At two spots, active colonies of Baya Weaver nests were being constructed.

IMG_6304

We watched these residential layouts taking shape, and also being inspected by the prospective owners (is there a word such as “owneress”? as the inspectors were the ladies!)

IMG_6305

Flying between the nesting tree and the thorny date palm behind, the birds kept us quite occupied.

IMG_6311

It was business as usual for the contract fishermen on the lake.

IMG_6267

The birding was interrupted by more “buttering” (as Rohit Girotra says, if birdwatching is birding, then butterfly-watching is buttering!) as Pioneers, Crows, various Blues, Pansies, and others flew about us, mud-puddling and also basking in the weak sunshine.It’s not often that one gets to photograph the Blue butterflies with their wings open, and we made the most of the opportunity.

Forget-me-not

IMG_6330

Blue Pansy

IMG_6253

Plains Cupid

IMG_6343

Common Banded Awl

IMG_6225

Indian Skipper

IMG_6342

Grass Yellow

IMG_6229

Common Leopard

IMG_6350

We observed some insects, too, such as this Blister Beetle

IMG_6210

this Green Marsh Hawk Dragonfly

IMG_6367

and this Jewel Bug

IMG_6287

this caterpillar

IMG_6419

a Day-flying Handmaiden Moth

IMG_6426

Even the common Housefly can be beautiful up close!

IMG_6274
But a further treat awaited us a little further. Two juvenile Green Bee-eaters, which have, apparently, not (yet) developed any fear of humans, sat quite close to the path, and flew around us as they hawked insects from the air. Their plumage, much duller than that of the
adults, allowed them to melt into the foliage of the tree they sat in.

IMG_6373

We walked a little further, expecting them to fly off to a distance…but they did not. All of us had goofy smiles on our faces as they flew about our heads, and landed on twigs quite close to us!

IMG_6396

Here’s a full-frame shot of one of them.

IMG_6404

If only all birds,and indeed, all wild creatures, could be (safely)thus free of the fear of humans…well, for a little while, we were in that Utopia!

Just when we thought of turning back, a nice “zebra-backed” Hoopoe, foraging along the ground,

IMG_6382

kept us there for a while longer…

IMG_6399

Reluctantly, we turned back on the path, heading back towards the chores and commitments that awaited us back home.

The wildflowers were lovely too. The Water Hyacinth, an ornamental which is now choking up our waterways as an invasive pest, still has lovely flowers:

IMG_6270

The Cleome had begun to blossom:

IMG_6281

Commelina flowers made bright sparkles underfoot.

IMG_6306

IMG_6308

But the scenes. of the cloudy, cool morning on the reservoir will surely be in our mind’s eyes, recharging our souls and getting us through the stresses and strains of our mundane weekdays…We wished every devout Muslim citizen Id Mubarak, as we went home.

Oh…the food? Since we were in a rush, we did not stop for the usual post-trip brefus, but we did have fun eating Padma’s sandwiches, and some of the sweets I’d brought from the wedding I attended on Sunday.

The eBird list (and an impressive one it is, too, for a “summer” outing!) is

here

and I’ve put up my photographs of the trip on an FB album

here

Birders:

Akhilesh
Padma/Ramaswamy
Prasanna
Sudha (from NOIDA)
and I

Butterflies:

Awl, Common Banded
Blues, various (the experts are still disagreeing over the up-wing photos of some of those I clicked, so I will stop with that, instead of going into Gram, Grass, Pea and so on!)
Baronet
Cerulean, Common
Coster, Tawny
Cupid, Plains
Emigrant, Common
Emigrant, Mottled
Forget-me-not
Gull, Common
Jezebel, Common
Leopard, Common
Lime,Common
Mormon, Common
Pansy, Blue
Pansy, Chocolate
Pansy, Lemon
Pioneer
Rose, Common
Rose, Crimson
Sunbeam, Indian
Skipper, Indian
Tiger, Plain
Yellow, Common Grass
Yellow, Three-spot Grass

Already looking forward to the next weekend and what it may bring,

IMG_6257

Livelihoods: Driving others

June 23, 2017

Every now and then, a glimpse into lives very different from our own, brings us up sharply against alternate realities.

I am used to the notion of auto drivers as rough, rude people who will generally not co-operate with passengers. This preconception got a jolt when I noticed this man driving his autorickshaw in the traffic.

IMG_5098

It cannot be an easy life when your own mobility depends on a pair of crutches. I realized that this man, and many others like him, battle many disadvantages to earn their living. I have learnt to try and remove my prejudices, and look afresh at my ideas about my fellow-citizens.

3rd Sunday outing, Turhalli, 180617

June 21, 2017

It was still rather cloudy and overcast as several of us met at Vajrahalli Gate, on our way to the Turahalli Forest Trail, where a few more nature lovers from the nearby areas also joined us.

IMG_4941

It was heartening to see that several children had joined the walk too! Keerthana had brought her friends Anvitha, Krishna, and Sahana; Subrahamanya C N and his wife Neha had brought their son Shreyamsh along. Many of the children kept meticulous notes in their notebooks.

IMG_5002

Ulhas introduced himself and talked a bit about the Turahalli forest, its earlier range and present confines. Prasad, too, joined us, and shared his knowledge with us.

As we slowly walked up the trail, Deepak decided that rather than go uphill, we would take the path skirting the base of the hill.

Ulhas and Deepak (centre left, and right)

IMG_4948

The usual gang of suspects, as we like to call the birds that one expects at a birding spot, turned up one by one…White-cheeked and Coppersmith Barbets, the Green Bee-eaters flying around as they hawked insects in the air, those who were more experienced pointed out the birds to those who were coming on an outing, or seeing the birds, for the first time.

IMG_4983

Nor were birds the only creatures of interest. Several of us were interested in the plants and trees that we passed; Ajit, Subbu and I looked at the tiny, beautiful flowers of what Arun Kumar N later told us, was the Byttneria herbacea, or Herbal Byttneria.

IMG_5009

IMG_5011

Some species of Clerodendrum,

IMG_5014

little blue Evolvulus flowers at our feet,

IMG_6483

Spider lilies

IMG_5020

the children (and some of us adults too!) having fun watching the Touch-Me-Not (Mimosa pudica) close up its leaves when we touched it….all these added to the walk. On the trees, the summer flowers were slowly giving way to the monsoon greenery, but here and there, the Jacaranda still held on to its purple blooms. Tiny wild jasmine flowers starred the path and added the magic of scent to the sights and sounds.

The sounds, too, were plenty. Ashy Prinias and Tailorbirds “marked attendance”. The sight of a peacock with a full “tail of a thousand eyes”, in the branches of a Peepal tree,

IMG_4986

IMG_4987

held us riveted at the beginning, and we kept hearing them throughout. The songs of Oriental Magpie Robins floated liquidly through the air, and we heard the harsher call of the Shikras even before sighting one.

IMG_4967

All around us, the butterflies dotted the air as they flitted about, and a fair amount of the walk was spent observing these winged beauties.

Crimson Tip

IMG_5046

Common Gull

IMG_5005

Zebra Blue

IMG_5036

Cotton Stainer Bugs

IMG_5053

Spider, Turahalli, 180617 Plexippus paykulli, Salticidae spider

IMG_5065

Finding some caterpillars,

IMG_5001

a large Cicada, and other insects, also kept our interest from flagging.

This Yellow Pansy was caught in a spiderweb, and the eternal dilemma…should we intervene or not? solved itself as the butterfly suddenly freed itself and fluttered away.

IMG_4998

The heavy, moisture-bearing clouds slowly gave way to the fleecy cotton-puffs (insert scientific names like Nimbus and Cumulus here!) that heralded bluer skies and bright patches of sunshine. Several walkers and cyclists shared our path.

Subbu and Nandini, who live in Turahalli Forest View, informed me that the Indian Rock Eagle Owl can still be seen regularly in this patch. We were not able to see too many raptors, though, probably because of the cloudy weather; we were content to see Brahmin and Black Kites, and an Oriental Honey Buzzard.

It is one of the marks of an interesting walk that even after many of us returned to our starting point, we were still observing and enjoying ourselves, and rather reluctantly pulled ourselves away

IMG_5094

to go off to a late breakfast at Adayar Ananda Bhavan (A2B)!

IMG_5095

IMG_5096

IMG_5097

Birds:

The eBird list, compiled by J N Prasad, is

here

Birders (as far as I can remember)

Adnan Raja,Ajit Ampalakkad, Amit C Javgal, Anil Bhatta,Anirudh
Bhatta, Anvitha, JN Chandrashekar,Deepa Mohan,Deepak Jois, Harish
Chandra, Janhvi Vyas, Lata, Keerthana ,Krishna,Lata, Nandini, Neha,
Padma Ramaswamy, Prashanth M Badrinath, Raji Hari, GS Ramaswamy, Rupa
Rao, Sahana, Sarrah , little Shreyamsh, Reshamwala,Sathyan, TS
Srinivasa, Sriram Prabhakar, Subramaniam Kumar, Subrahmanya C N,
Tamanna, Tara Jayarao from Hyderabad,Tarachand Wanvari. Uday
Kumar,Ulhas Anand, Vijay Krishnan. If I’ve left out anyone…put it
down to my famous memory (or lack of it) and forgive me!

Butterflies:

Baronet
Blues, Various
Blue, Tiny Grass
Blue, Zebra
Brown, Common Evening
Castor, Common
Cerulean, Common
Coster, Tawny
Crimson Tip
Crow, Common
Cupid, Plains
Emigrant, Common
Emigrant, Mottled
Gull, Common
Jezebel, Common
Leopard, Common
Mormon, Common
Orange Tip, White
Orange Tip, Yellow
Pansy, Lemon
Pansy, Yellow
Pioneer
Rose, Common
Rose, Crimson
Tiger,Dark Blue
Yellow, Common Grass
Yellow, Three-spot Grass

I have put up my photos on an FB album

here

Let me leave you with my “shadow selfie”…

IMG_5003

Passiflora incarnata at the Butterfly Festival, 170617

June 17, 2017

Today I volunteered for the very first Butterfly Festival in Karnataka.

You can see the photos on my Flickr album

here

But amongst other things… This purple variety of the Passion Flower somehow seems to represent, to me, the intensity of passion in life…the force that often keeps us going. I had heard the interpretation of the parts of the pistil representing the Pandavas, and the many petals, the Kauravas. Today I also heard the mythology of the flower representing the Apostles of Christ. How many meanings we invest in these beauties!

IMG_4938

Doresanipalya Forest Research Station, Bangalore, Karnataka, 17 Jun ’17.

June 8, 2017

IMG_4600

When the sky boils over
In shades of scudding grey
When the clouds talk loudly to each other
I wonder what they say?

Do they like to light up the place
Where they are around?
Do they decide upon the spot and then
Zap electricity to the ground?

Do they peal out with such loud thunder
To give us folks a jolt?
Perhaps they feel quite gleeful
When we jump at lightning bolts!

It’s quite easy to feel happiness
When it’s a fleecy, blue-sky cloud.
We feel much more overawed and quiet
When the cloud lights up, and cracks aloud.

The title refers to

an eponymous movie by Satyajit Ray

Bhoochakra gadde or Kandamool, being sold in Bangalore, 070617

June 8, 2017

I found an interesting root being sold on vendor’s cart.

IMG_4586

The scientific name, Manjula Desai tells me, is

Maerua oblongifolia

This belongs to the Capparaceae (Caper) family.

It’s called “bhoo chakra gadde” in Kannada, (it would be better translated as “bhoo shakkar gadde”…earth-sugar tuber”. I am not able to find the name in Tamil.

Here’s a video of a slice being smeared with lemon, dipped in sugar, and served:

Here’s another video, where the skillfully-carved slice is served without lemon or sugar:

Someone says it is from Haridwar.

here

is a scientific study of the DnA of this root.

By Subhashish Panigrahi – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=56546985

Could someone help with more information?

Gulakmale and Thotti Kallu (T K) Falls, 280517

May 29, 2017

IMG_3985

Sivakumar Mallya, Sudha Iyengar, Janhvi Vyas, Aadya Umesh, Suma Seshadri, Kavitha Umesh, Jayashree Govindarajan, Rishov Biswas, Ramaswamy G S, Padma Ramaswamy, and I, went to visit Gulakmale kere (lake) and T K Falls.

Because of the heavy rain,we started in cool, cloudy and misty weather. Here is the Champakadhama temple at Bannerghatta…an old temple that appears to be lost in the mists of time.

IMG_3990

The mist was everywhere.

IMG_4022

We first stopped at the small pond near the path to the Bhavani temple:

IMG_4011

Having spotted some Baya Weavers,

IMG_4024

We moved to Gulakmale kere,

IMG_4035

where we watched a colony of these birds on a date palm.

IMG_4073

IMG_4077

Aadya faithfully documented all that she saw, and as usual, sketched, too. Here’s her sketch of the Baya Weavers’ nest:

IMG_4083

Even as they built their dwellings, a White-rumped Munia arrived to try and occupy them.

IMG_4099

Nature, as a teacher, gave me a geometry lesson.

IMG_4046

The sky slowly cleared

IMG_4095

We then went to T K Falls, where the water had been released due to heavy rain over the Suvarnamukhi river, resulting in a beautiful cascade:

IMG_4103

I took a video of the scene a little further downstream where we crossed to the Muniswara temple area:

Wildflowers were everywhere.

Cleome monophylla, Spindle Pod

IMG_4115

Tarenna asiatica, Asiatic Tarenna:

IMG_4134

Chinese lanter tree

IMG_4041

Hibiscus lobatus (very tiny)

IMG_4062

Grewia damine

IMG_4175

Cadaba fruticosa – Indian Cadaba

IMG_4164

I found a very good website to identify wildflowers,

here

There were plenty of birds, like the

Ashy Prinia on the Marsh Glory

IMG_4028

Cinereous Tit

IMG_4101

Coppersmith Barbets

IMG_4089

Purple-rumped Sunbird

IMG_4135

Southern Coucal

IMG_4110
Many butterflies delighted us.

Crimson Tip

IMG_4156

White Orange-tip

IMG_4159

Blue Tiger

IMG_4054

Plain Tiger on Stachytarpeta

IMG_4056

Common Crow

IMG_4058

Here are three pathologists, one senior banker and one Jobless Person:

IMG_4189

On the way back this beautiful Brahma bull (even though a little emaciated) looked majestic.

IMG_4192

Here we all are, about to tuck into brefus at Udupi Banashree on Bannerghatta Road

IMG_4208

Gulakmale bird list:

here

T K Falls

here

Butterfly list

Blues, various
Cerulean, Common
Crimson Tip
Crow, Common
Cupid, Plains
Emigrant, Common
Emigrant, Mottled
Gull, Common
Jezebel, Common
Leopard, Common
Orange-tip, White
Pansy, Lemon
Rose, Common
Rose, Crimson
Tiger, Blue
Tiger, Plain
Tiger, Striped
Yellow, Common Grass
Yellow, Spotless
Yellow, Three-Spot Grass

FB album

here