Posts Tagged ‘behaviour’

A flower that tricks the tricksters! Ceropegias…. endangered plants

July 31, 2018

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Ceropegia candelabrum, Turahalli, Karnataka,280718

We have all heard of carnivorous plants like the Venus Flytrap, that trap and devour insects. But less known is the fact that some plants of the Ceropegia species, actually deceive and entrap insects, for pollination!

Here’s how the Ceropegia flowers work, and it’s quite complicated.

Spiders and other insect predators often trap and eat honeybees, and there are some flies that love to eat these honeybees, too. The flies are able to smell the scent of the dying honeybees, and congregate to feed off the bees even as the predators are eating them. Since they are, in this sense, robbing the predators, they are called “kleptoparasites”

Ceropegias take advantage of this liking of the flies. They produce a fragrance that is remarkably similar to the “alarm pheromones” (the mixture of about 33 substances emitted from the glands of the bees under attack). This fools the flies into entering the flowers…and they find themselves falling into the flowers, to the pollen chamber (the pot-shaped area at the bottom of the flower).

Now, the flies, notorious thieves themselves, find that they have been doubly deceived. Not only are there no flies to eat, but also, there is no nectar in the pollen chamber of the flowers, to reward them. The Ceropegias are known as “deceptive flowers,” allowing themselves to be pollinated by the insects they attract without rewarding them with food.

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Ceropegia hirsuta, Panarpani, Madhya Pradesh, 080917

In addition to this trick, there is also the ensuing imprisonment, as the plants trap the flies in their flowers for around 24 hours. This ensures that the flies — searching for both food and a way out — do all the work when it comes to pollination. As a result of this activity combined with food deprivation, the flies are quite weak when they are finally allowed to fly away. As hungry as they are, they are magically drawn to the alluring, deceptive scent of neighbouring flowers, where they end up back at square one.

The deceit of the Ceropegias was discovered by Annemarie Heiduk, a doctoral researcher in biology at the University of Bayreuth. Scientists from Bayreuth, Salzburg, Bielefeld, Darmstadt, London, and Pietermaritzburg helped her gather the evidence. The international team has now presented its research findings in the latest issue of the journal Current Biology.

You can read in more detail about this fascinating process,

here

But the plant itself is sometimes subject to being eaten by the caterpillars of butterflies and moths. Here a Plain Tiger caterpillar on the flower of one Ceropegia:

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Here is a photo that I took of a true carnivorous plant, called the Sundew flower, which digests the insects caught in the sticky “dew” of its flowers.

Drosera burmanii, Panarpani,080917

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Just another example of the wonders of the world we live in!

Turahalli, 010718

July 1, 2018

The monsoons are when the peacocks, dance, and this morning, at Turahalli Reserve Forest, we were delighted to watch this.

Lists sent to Ms Dipika, DCF, Turahalli:

Bird list:

https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S46912817

(47 species)

Butterflies:

Baronet
Blue, Babul
Blue, Lime
Blue, Pale Grass
Blue, Tiny Grass
Castor, Common
Cerulean, Common
Coster, Tawny
Crow, Common
Cupid, Small
Dart, Oriental Grass
Emigrant, Common
Gull, Common
Lime, Common
Leopard, Common
Mormon, Common
Pansy, Yellow
Pioneer
Rose, Common
Rose, Crimson
Tiger, Blue
Tiger, Plain
Tiger,Striped
Yellow, Common Grass
Yellow, Three-spot Grass

Insects:

Ants, Processional
Bee, Carpenter
Bee, Honey
Beetle,Bombardier
Beetle, Net-winged
Caterpillars of various moths and Common Rose
Centipede
Dragonfly, various
Grasshopper, various
Katydid
Mantis, Praying
Millipede
Plant Hopper
Praying Mantis
Spider, Funnel Web
Spider, Orb Weaver
Spider, Giant Wood
Spider, Jumping
Spider, Social
Spider, Tent Web
Spider, Wolf
Wasp, Paper
Wasp, Spider
Wasp, Scoliid

Wildflowers

Acacia sp
Aristolochia indica seen in a lot of places (this is an endangered plant)
Catunaregam spinosa
Commelina sp
Clerodendron sp
Cyanotis sp
Evolvulus sp
Grewia sp
Fungi and Mushrooms, various kinds
Mimosa pudica
Passiflora sp
Stachytarpeta
Toddelia asiatica
Tridax sp

FB album of the morning

here

Crows using vehicles to crack seed pods! Ragihalli, 211017

December 5, 2017

I had read about how crows put nuts and seed pods in the way of approaching vehicles on roads and then eat the cracked nut.

here

is a very erudite study which does not rule out the possibility of crows using vehicles in this way, but suggests that they only drop the nuts on the road to crack them.

However, at the Ragihalli sheet rock area in the Bannerghatta National Park, on 21 Oct. ’17, we observed a Jungle Crow which definitely seemed to use the oncoming vehicles to crack the tamarind seeds that it was bringing, and then going to the road to eat the exposed soft tamarind.

Here’s the crow, which deliberately (and fearlessly) the crow leaves the seed pod and flies off only when the vehicle is almost upon it.

Here, the crow flies in after the vehicle has passed. You can clearly hear the excellent description of the crow’s behaviour by my friend Aishwary Mandal in the video.

Birding is not “ticking off” birds that we’ve seen…it’s also watching and learning more about the feathered creatures around us…sometimes they surprise us with what they do.

Superdog, 160417

April 17, 2017

As I returned
From an outing, back home
I chanced upon this sight
Of a superhero on the roam.

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I didn’t click the owner,
A proud-looking man, whose
Idea it was, to
Put the dog in four shoes.

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Though the pet seemed OK
And actually did strut
Proudly along, I’d never
Dress up any mutt!

A dog should be a dog
I feel, not an ape
Of any human being..
Whatever size and shape!

Home-maker, Doresanipalya Reserve Forest, 120317

March 12, 2017

We saw a White-cheeked Barbet, idle, and free.

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It seemed to suddenly twist itself, right towards the tree.

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I’d wished to see a woodpecker, and as if granting that wish
It pecked to make a nesting-hole, work that it seemed to relish!

Here’s the bird, hard at work, rat-tatting away.

“Go and build your own home!” is what it seemed to say!

Yes, we took its sage advice and homeward went our way,
But the thought of the home-building barbet we carry through the day.

Compare and contrast, 2017

February 2, 2017

Contrasting, in my mind, the tennis match that happened between two men, recently in Australia, and the US Presidential election process over the past year.

One was played fairly, by the rules, both parties were excellent at what they did,and would bring lustre to the title they won. There were no personal attacks, no smears, the process of winning the title was completely transparent.

The other….

Captivity over freedom: Grey Francolins, Jigani Lake, 181216

December 18, 2016

Something strange on the 3rd Sunday outing to Jigani kere today.

We saw a young man with 2 Grey Francolins in a cage, and when I walked up to the group, everyone told me how they voluntarily came back into the cage when the young man let them out. Well, once again, the young man let them out, and this time, both birds flew quite a distance before landing in the field. I couldn’t believe that the Francolins would be captive again…but stood and watched the young man approaching the area where they were,they voluntarily came back into the cage when the young man let them out.

On this video, you can see the first Francolin just inside the cage, and the second walk in to the cage, with no force or persuasion! DoSomething strange on the 3rd Sunday outing today (Sun, 18 Dec 2016) at Jigani kere.

We saw a young man with two Grey Francolins in a cage, and when I walked up to the group, everyone told me ho the birds get so used to captivity that they prefer it to an uncertain freedom?

Here’s the Francolin, outside the cage:

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Here’s the video:

Regarding the outing, the

eBird checklist for Jigani kere is

here

eBird checklist for Hennagara is

here

the FaceBook Album is

here

and the Flickr album is

here

The Red-breasted Flycatcher, Nandi Hills, 241214

December 24, 2014

This morning, I went with Savithri Singh, her son Kartik and his friend Karuna, Brinda, and Sharmila, to Nandi Hills.

Though it certainly didn’t rain birds, we saw enough to keep us quite happy, and one of the highlights of the outing was the

RED-THROATED FLYCATCHER

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that flew about, delighting us.

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I wanted to find the difference between the Red-breasted and the Red-throated Flycatcher, and I read that the Red-breasted Flycatcher is Ficedula parva ,” is a small passerine bird in the Old World flycatcher family. It breeds in eastern Europe and across central Asia and is migratory, wintering in south Asia:…. and “the Asian species, Ficedula albicilla, previously considered a subspecies of the red-breasted flycatcher, has the red throat surrounded by grey and a different song. It is usually now separated as the Taiga flycatcher.”

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Why Taiga? Because…this bird goes to breed in Poland! However, one disturbing fact is that
“Studies on their spring arrivals to the breeding quarters in Poland from 1973–2002 show that males are returning earlier with increasing temperatures.”

They are found mainly deciduous woodlands, especially near water. They build an open nest in a tree hole or similar recess. 4–7 eggs are laid.

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The

Wiki entry

about the Taiga Flycatcher has this to say:

“In winter they are mostly silent but have a typical chip-chip-chr-rrr flycatcher call. In their breeding season, the song consists of melodious whistles, like that of the European pied flycatcher.”

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For other photos from the outing, click on my FB album

here .

Using others’ homes, Road to Galibore, 201214

December 22, 2014

While birding on the road to Galibore, Karnataka,on the banks of the Kaveri, in the Cauvery Wild Life Sanctuary (CWLS), we obseved some abandoned nests of the Baya Weavers.

We found that some Scaly-breasted Munias were now using the nests, and for a while, we watched these little beauties flying into, and away, from the nests.

A little later, though, our attention was arrested by the call of a

RUFOUS TREEPIE

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which we found flying from nest to nest.

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It kept picking at the dried grass that made up the nests:

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I could not understand whether it was foraging for insects in the grasses, or if it was unpicking the grass reeds to use in a nest of its own.

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At one point, I found the bird actually putting its head into the opening of one of the nests, as if to try and get in.

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Here’s the Treepie on the nest:

I took another one, too:

The

Wiki entry on this bird

does not mention anything about this behaviour. I wonder if I could get some more information about this…was the bird just being opportunistic?

The bird list of this trip. on eBird is at

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S20983466

Another unexpected hunting scene, Gurgaon, 131214

December 13, 2014

I have made

this post

about taking an infant for a walk in her stroller, and coming upon a raptor with a kill.

Little did I know that history would repeat itself!

It is cloudy and gloomy at Gurgaon, and instead of sitting idly in the 19th floor, apartment, I decided to get some exercise by climbing down, walking around the building, and then climbing back.

As I walked on the pathway around the building, which is shaded by small tree, I was thrilled to see a Shikra which had just made a pigeon kill!

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I dared not go too close.

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It looked around for a bit, and then carried the pigeon across the barbed wire fence to the ground of the adjacent apartment building. In the process, it dropped its prey.

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However, I was able to click it, waiting for several unheeding people to go past before it dropped down out of my sight, presumably to pick up its food and go off.

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That was quite an unexpected bonus of the walk, and I never felt the 19 floors I climbed up, afterwards!

The photos are on my FB album

here