Posts Tagged ‘birding’

Nandi Hills, 220417

May 1, 2017

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Venkat, Varun, Shanthala, Kedar, Akansha, Nitin, Janhvi, Padma, Vidhya, Ramaswamy, Nandi Hills, 220417

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Puff-throated Babbler

The blossoming Gulmohar..

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The floral carpet below.

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Vanda testacea, an orchid that was growing wild.

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Tipu’s summer lodge:

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Owl’s Eye Moth

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“Oooh, see the Nilgiri Wood Pigeons!”

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Here they are, billing and cooing together:

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It was a lovely morning, you can see the album

here

The eBird list is

here

for Nandi and

here

for Jakkur kere.

Making a home in the city, 190417

April 20, 2017

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As I stepped out of my daughter’s home, early in the morning, the liquid, burbling call of the Red-whiskred Bulbuls had me looking around. I spotted them flying around and landing near the front entrance:

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I soon realized that two of them were busy trying to build a nest in the ornamental palms flanking the entrance.

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Look at the beauty of this bird, very common in our city:

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Are they also pondering about building apartments, one above the other?

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In Shivamogga, too, two of these birds had made a nest in my hosts’ home:

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The lady of the house (er, nest) was well-ensconced in the cup-like nest, with only her beak showing:

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I left the birds to their breakfast, and walked on.

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Doresanipalya Forest Research Station, 160417

April 18, 2017

It was still very pleasant when several of us met up at the Millennium Avenue gate of DFRS, and Harish led us, literally, up the garden path.

Knowing what it is to drive long distances for birding, I must appreciate the interest of people who do this. For example, Latha and Satyan came all the way from Vidyaranyapura! Others in our group have the DFRS as their backyard and they just walked to the outing.

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The place is green and lovely now:

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A Shikra started off our sighting and bird list, and in fact, the sightings of these birds (probably two individuals, a male and female) were a recurring part of our whole morning.

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It was nice to have several knowledgeable people talk to us about plants, insects and several other things, as we walked. Since we are still at the season where some trees and plants are in flower, the walk was punctuated by plant and tree information too. We started with the exquisite flowers of the Sesbania grandiflora, commonly called the Vegetable Hummingbird tree….

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The list went on. Ajit was delighted at finding Ixora pavetta:

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Here’a closeup of the fragrant flowers:

For example, Ajit powdered the resin of the Shorea roxburghii, and told us the common name of the tree…”dhoopa”, as the resin is ignited during the puja rituals. We heard an interesting story about why the cashew is so called (ask Harish if you weren’t there!)

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Resin of Shorea roxburghii

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When powdered, the “dhoopa” resin gave off a stronger fragrance.

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Nest of Social Spiders

Perhaps there were no “unusual” surprises…but the “usual gang of suspects” were enough to keep us interested throughout. A few Flycatchers, the flowing song of several Magpie Robins, both seen and unseen, a tailorbird flitting in the bamboo thicket…so the list, and the walk, went.

There were some very interesting mammal sightings too. A group of these, known as the Bangalore Butterfly Club

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Rohit, one of the founders of the Bangalore Butterfly Club, RHS

were having their fortnightly “buttering” walk there, and we had a Tiger sighting ….as well as Jezebels, Skippers,

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Indian Skipper

…and a few Blues in the short time we
spent together. They were beginning their outing while we were finishing ours. I think the time frame is one of the things that determine whether one devotes oneself to birds or butterflies!

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Common Picture-wing, a dragonfly.

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A dead Tailed Jay allowed us to see this butterfly close up.The antennae and the body were eaten away, probably by ants.

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Funnel web spider waiting for prey

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Exoskeletons shed by Cicadas

A few mongrel puppies looked delightful as they settled at the base of a bamboo plant, but the few bonnet macaques I’ve noticed once in a while were absent. Since these invariably try to snatch the processed food and drink from people’s hands, it was good not to see them!

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We shared biscuits and khakras, and that made the walk all the more pleasant…but after 9am comes Breakfast O’ Clock, and soon, a few of us were seated in Adiga’s, getting outside some calories.

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I’d like to add that I missed Deepak, and would like to take this opportunity to thank him for every 3rd Sunday outing that he’s tirelessly organized. On any 3rd Sunday walk, of course, Geetanjali and Subir Dhar, who started this outing with a few of us pitching in,
are never far from my mind.

The eBird list, diligently compiled by Prasad, is

here

and my photos are

here

Hoping to meet many of you again next weekend,

Cheers, Deepa.

4th Sunday: Hessarghatta kere, 260317

March 27, 2017

Email to the bngbirds egroup:

Hi everyone,

I am afraid the 4th Sunday outings are not popular! Last month, apart from my group,

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(at the Mandatory Chai Stop,or MCS)

there were three people, and today, at Hessarghatta,just two people joined the group who had come from south and central Bangalore. But these two people were Prasad and Shyamal, and we
thoroughly enjoyed their company, as we all walked on the bund of the lake, and then back along the edge of the lake bed to the Durgamba temple and so back to the parking area. We were nine in all…in alphabetical order, Aravind, Guhan, Harshith,Neeti (visiting from Bikaner), Padma, Ramaswamy, Seema, Shyamal, Vidhya, and myself.

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Vidhya, Harshith, Padma, Guhan, Aravind, Seema, Nidhi, Ramaswamy, Prasad, Shyamal

A beautiful sunrise greeted us as we climbed up the steps to the temple.

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We began with the felicitious sighting of several Hume’s Whitethroats on one of Acacia trees,

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and a couple of Oriental White-eyes on another. The white gave way to other colours, as we spotted Parakeets,

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Sunbirds,

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Flowerpeckers, Blyth’s Reed and Booted Warblers,Bulbuls,

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White-browed Bulbul

and other woodland birds as we walked.

Shyamal shared some of his knowledge with us.

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He told us how the Hume’s Whitethroat is more likely to be found in Bangalore. I learnt, today, that Indian Robins often nest in the crevices of walls, and we watched one couple building their home in this fashion.

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Indian Robin female with nesting material

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Coming out of the nesting crevice

Bulbuls, Orioles, the jet black of the Jungle (er, sorry, Large-billed) Crow…we certainly did not lack for colour as we walked on.

Nor were birds the only beings of interest. The beauty of several flowers and seed pods

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Aristolochia seed pods

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Aristolochia seeds

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Ramphal(Annona reticulate)

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Solanacae sp.

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Holoptelea integrifolia, Indian Elm

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Neem flowers

along the path had Shyamal explaining to us, for example, that the Ceylon Caper flowers

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changed their colour after pollination. Seema and I tried the taste of some berries we found on a thorny bush (yes, we are both alive!), which a botanist friend, S Kassim, later identified for me as the

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Needle Bush, Azima tetracantha. It’s a medicinal plant, but it’s not the berries which are used that way.

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Needle Bush berries with seeds

There was a magnificient Rain Tree on the path

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which was in full bloom,

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as well as marsh plants like this Marsh Glory:

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We admired some of the milkweed, where seeds hung by shiny,silken threads from the seed pods. Shyamal showed us how the winged shape of several seed pods themselves allowed for dispersal by wind.

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The appearance of Ashy-crowned Skylarks, Paddyfield Pipits, an Indian Roller, several Drongos, and some perky little Silverbills

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as we walked back towards the temple, kept us interested, and at the base of the temple, several butterflies– Plain Tigers,

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Striped Tigers

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Common and Crimson Rose, many Blues…had us watching, and clicking our cameras too.

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Xanthodes moth caterpillar

Mr. Yashwanth, who is doing research on insects under the guidance of Subbu, came up and met me and helped me with the id of the beautiful Salt-and-Pepper-Moth (Utetheisa lotrix, how am I going to remember that?).

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He advised us that the raptors would come in a while to sit on
the lake bed…but we were already feeing the warmth of the sun.The very early start and the need to walk far into the centre of the lake bed to see raptors (not to mention the fact that apart from Black and Brahminy Kites, we only saw two un-id raptors) resulted in our deciding to return.

We climbed back up to the bund of the lake, and there, shared some delicious snacks…such a lot of it that it made a solid breakfast for all of us!

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Aravind baked this delicious, moist cake

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Vidhya celebrated her star birthday with kEsari bAth and stuffed sandwiches.

All that is the good part of the morning…but I cannot refrain from mentioning the other side, too. There were SUVs,

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sedans,two-wheelers, a glider-flying group,a drone-flying group

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all on the lake bed, which seems to be a very popular location now. People walking on the lake bed cannot be as bad a problem as cars driving all over it…but there seems to be no restriction on vehicle movement.

The expansion of the Durgamba temple

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also means a stall selling agarbathies, oil packets, and other snacks, resulting in a lot of plastic litter.

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It seems to be an accepted practice with any temple on the bund of a lake to throw all the litter down the embankment; I’ve found the same thing at Hennagara kere, too. Does a god or goddess not venture beyond the railings of the temple He or She resides in? Certainly, devotees seem to think so.

Since the kumbhabhishekam and the traditional re-opening of the temple after the renovation has not yet been done, the idols of every god had their faces covered up…

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I felt that not even our gods and goddesses want to look upon what we have done to Hessarghatta kere!

Oh well, one takes the bad with the good, and on the whole, it was a very enjoyable morning. It’s my usual grouse that The Experts never join us for the 3rd and 4th Sunday outings, and it was a pleasant change to have India’s biggest contributor for natural history to Wikipaedia, joining us!

The eBird list for today, put up by Harshith, is

here

My photographs are on my FB album

here

Cheers, Deepa.

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Yediyur kere, 250317

March 25, 2017

Email to the bngbirds egroup:

Hi everyone,

I am not immune to FB posts, so when there was a sudden rush of bird sightings from Yediyur kere, I realized that I’d not visited for many years. When Padma and Ramaswamy suggested going there this morning, I was very happy to join them.

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So many trees have fresh leaves right now, like this Peepal tree:

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I still wish we could have an ongoing online form for the lake census and keep adding our data whenever we visit any kere. This lake is maintained well, and the water quality seems good. However, the fact of its being completely fenced around, and having all growth stunted
to bush size except for a few spots, made it feel more “manicured” than I am comfortable with…but that’s a matter of personal choice!

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A seat that cannot be accessed!

We entered the area to a rising orchestra of White-cheeked Barbets, and the unmusical calls of Rose-ringed Parakeets as they flocked to the Akasha Mallige, Peepal and Dolichendrone trees. As we slowly started moving along the path, we were treated to the sights and sounds of several Koels; whether the bodies were black or spotted, the ruby eyes were the same.

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We were, of course, prepared for the “usual gang of suspects” after which our birding group is named; but as always, something unexpected, and something interesting, happened!

We were watching both a group of Spot-billed Ducks and some domesticated mallard-derivatives (I don’t know the correct name for these interbreeds!) when suddenly, a group of drakes decided to “advance” on a female. She sank into the water under their combined
onslaught. She managed to flap her way away from the other three, but a fourth was very persistent, and made quite a nuisance of himself. It was obvious that the lady was not willing.

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Another duck, who saw the fracas,suddenly decided to come to her friend’s aid. She flapped her wings at the drake until he released the besieged duck, and both the ladies happily swam away, at the end of a successful rescue mission! We could not help laughing even as we
watched intently.

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A Black-crowned Night Heron skulked under a Lantana bush in the middle
of the lake.

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An unexpected sighting was that of a Spotted Owlet as it flew for a short distance out of the large Ficus benjamina trees, and back in.

One Dolichendrone tree close to the entrance suddenly seemed to become a hotbed of small-bird activity.

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The seed-pods, with their typical spiralling shapes, had already set, and there were no flowers…but yet, Sunbirds, Tailorbirds, Pale-billed Flowerpeckers, a Blyth’s Reed
Warbler, and some Ashy Prinias…all kept the tree literally “hopping”, and we were able to listen to their calls, too. These are occasions when one can practice birding “by ear”, and have the id validated by what one sees.

I was rather intrigued by a brick “bird wall” that had been set up at one place:

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…and concrete “bird holes” in another “bird corner”. It will be fun to see if birds do take up nesting in these holes. But meanwhile, watching Black Kites bringing in twigs to make their homes was interesting enough! A White-throated Kingfisher added its bright blue back and lipstick mouth as it waited for a catch.

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It was fun to
watch a Boating Pond Heron…it just sat on one of the boats in the water (kept there to clean the lake, I think), as it scanned the water for breakfast!

Two groups of Rosy Pastors flying overhead, their local cousins, the Common and (the always well-groomed) Jungle Mynas,and the bisyllabic call of one Green Warbler (thank you for the call tutorials, Mike and Ulhas, they’ve been useful!)…between our eyes and ears, we didn’t
know where two hours went, and we left the place before the lake was locked up. I will never understand why our lakes and parks are kept locked through the day…what are we trying to prevent?

I did look at a lot of flowers, plants and trees as well:

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Finding out names (hoping to remember them, not always successfully!) will occupy me for a while. Watching some hornets beginning to make a nest on the underside of a leaf was also fascinating.

Well satisfied with our morning, we went off for khaali dosa at the excellent eatery (Brahmin’s Special, no relation to the Basavanagudi Brahmin’s!) near my home, arranging to meet for tomorrow’s outing to Hessarghatta Lake.

Spending time with good friends, looking at many things, under the
shade of greenery, dappled with golden morning sunlight…how lucky I
am to be able to do this!

Hoping to meet some of you tomorrow,

Cheers, Deepa.

My photos are on an FB album

here

The bird list (very respectable!) is

here

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.

The Valley area, 050217: Email to bngbirds egroup

February 7, 2017

Hi everyone,

As I begin to write this, my mind wanders in several directions. One, the wonderful writing of “ixedoc”, Dr Arunachalam Kumar, each of whose vignettes I look forward to reading.

Another: the increasing difficulty of going birding or “naturing” in terms of the hassle it is to drive back home.

Yet another: The increasing difficulty of access to our wildlife areas.

But I will not digress (the digress being the female of the diger) and will write about one area, off Kanakapura Road, where the wilderness of the Bannerghatta scrub jungle awaits us,and where access is relatively easy.

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The Valley, as the area where the Valley School is situated, is a place where the forest leads the nature lover into both open grassland and shaded woods.And recently, bird sightings there have been of the unusual variety. My friend Chandu sighted an Ultramarine Flycatcher when he took the children of Aarohi School there for the HSBC Bird Race (in the space of two visits, we were able to sight a Racket-tailed Drongo, and on Sunday (5th Feb 2017) we were able to sight a Brown Wood Owl (Yogesh Badri’s photo of it is

here

…he quickly followed the bird as it flew, and got the shot)

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Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher

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Verditer Flycatcher

All these “unusuals” lead to a lot of interest in a birding destination….but the true value of a birding “hotspot” lies,for avid birders, not only in the unusual, but also the usual.(MBK made this very valid point when spoke on the occasion of the 2016 Bird Race.)

What would one see,if one went, say, in the middle of summer? Would we be looking at the butterflies instead, or would we still see enough birds to hold our interest, and make an enjoyable morning of our outing? We may be more used to the burbling call of the Joker-cheek-patch Red-whiskered Bulbul, or the trill of the Small Green Bee-eaters, but they are no less beautiful than the rarely-sighted birds. Watching a Tailorbird bringing in nesting
material, or enjoying the way a Brahminy Kite soars and dips along the wind currents is as appealing as the sudden and unexpected thrill of a “rare” sighting…and on the days when the latter does not happen, the “usual” is what keeps us going back for more (the English word, not the Hindi one, though “mor” is also a bird frequently found at the Valley).

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Selfie.

As the winter mornings warm up, the thought of the long trudge back through the path where there are only the two banyan trees to give shade until we come back to the School main gate…

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may be daunting,but it’s the “usual gang of suspects” that take us through to the bamboo thicket and beyond.

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Seed pod.

Here’s a happy White-cheeked Barbet, secure in its nest, smiling at us!

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Birding on the first day of 2017, Ramnagara

January 2, 2017

Just four of us: Jayashree, Padma, Ramaswamy and I…went to

Ramnagara

for some evening birding, and to see the critically endangered

Long-billed Vultures

at the betta.

On the way, we saw three Spotted Owlets in a tree.

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The beautiful rocky outcrops welcomed us in the evening sunlight.

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Usually, the gates to the hill are closed, but on this day, they were open, and I clicked several cars coming down after the passengers had visited the rAmA temple at the top.

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We saw a couple of

Egyptian Vultures

first:

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and we were also able to locate their nest.

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and then I saw this

Short-toed Snake Eagle

perched high on the edge of the cliff.

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It then treated us to a flight display as well:

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Muniyappa, a young boy from the nearby settlement, came to join us. He was quite good at spotting birds, too.

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Jai lent him her binoculuars.

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Finally, a lone

Long-billed Vulture

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came out on to the ledge and preened itself, delighting all of us.

The sun sank behind the hills on the opposite side,

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and I captured Jai against the moon and Venus.

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We stopped at Bidadi for

thatte iddli

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on the way home, and though Jai had to do some marathon driving through the choked highway, we returned home content with our evening’s birding!

Pics on my FB album

here

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

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!