Posts Tagged ‘birding’

Birds and brains! IISc students trip to Ranganathittu, 180120

January 23, 2020

It was a new experience for me…taking 27 students of IISc(from undergrad level to Ph.D. students) along with a professor and his young daughter, to Ranganathittu, on the 18th of Jan, 2020. Arun Kaulige also guided the group. Kiran and Ambarish organized the trip extremely well.

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The group. Photo: a passing tourist!

It was a first for me as I have never before taken such a large group which does not hail from Karnataka! Naturally, since the group consisted of people who have secured admission into various programs at IISc, they were from various parts of the country.

I was also a little doubtful about our later-than-usual start…we left Bangalore at 7.15 am, stopped for breakfast at Kumbalgodu, and then proceeded to Ranganathittu…but I need not have worried.

Flycatchers of three kinds…the Tickell’s Blue, the White-breasted Fantail, and a beautiful Verditer flitted around even as we entered the sanctuary. We were able to spot both Purple and Purple-rumped Sunbirds.

Since almost everyone was new to birding, and the group’s budget was not very big, we decided on the short boat trip for everyone, in two boats, Arun going in one and myself in the other. However, since our boatman, Manjunath, recognized me from the Ranganathittu bird census, he kindly gave us a little extra time!

We enjoyed watching the Spot-billed Pelicans, and the Painted Storks (they are so plentiful here that it’s difficult to remember that they are near-threatened) and Openbills

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flying and perching; Several Grey Herons stood quite nonchalantly, next to rocks that, our group realized in surprised (and vocal!) dismay, were not rocks at all, but glided through the water, showing their deadly scales!

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We saw several “crocs on the rocks”, too, basking in the sunshine. Prof Chandra pointed out one saurian on the island, crunching up a fallen egg; I was able to talk about the diet of eggs and nestlings that the crocodiles enjoy, apart from fish. Manjunath gave a brief history and account of the sanctuary, which I translated for the others.

It was good to see that several Spoonbills have arrived at the sanctuary,

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and were displaying their lacy breeding plumage; Little and Great Cormorants, and one Indian Cormorant, gave diving and drying displays. River Terns made their floating, graceful forays and spectacular aerobatics as they sought fish in the water.

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Stream Glory damselflies mating

After the boat ride, we walked along the bank of the river, and the presence of several tourists did not prevent us from seeing Scaly-breasted Munias, Tricolored Munias

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and Silverbills feeding off the bamboo flowers and seeds. Rose-ringed Parakeets called from above our heads, as did White-cheeked and Coppersmith Barbets. Black and Brahminy Kites floated overhead, mixing with the waterfowl. Arun and I also talked about the various flora in the area

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Mucuna monosperma, Negro Bean, a native climber.

We adjourned to the canteen for lunch,

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and I then suggested that we return via Naguvanahalli, trying our luck with the Blue-tailed Bee-eaters. Google maps always takes us to the “wrong” side of the river and asks us to walk through the water to the sanctuary; so I was careful to take the bus through Naguvanahalli village to the “right” side of the river. I was able to show the group the completely non-touristy landscape of the beautiful Kaveri. Clothes, cattle, vehicles, and human beings..everything was getting washed in Her waters! (Oh yes, I use a capital letter because the Kaveri is a revered, life-giving goddess to me!)

We saw a few Indian Grey Hornbills flying into the trees, and a Black-rumped Flameback rat-tatted its presence on a palm tree-trunk. A few Green Bee-eaters had the group asking me if they were the birds I had told them about. Even while I was shaking my head negatively, thankfully, a Blue-tailed Bee-eater sailed in and landed on the wire, once again riveting the eyes of the group.

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Farmer washing his cow, Naguvanahalli, 180120

I must sadly add , however, that the Bee-eater sanctuary is in a shambles (For some reason, it is marked on Google maps as a Green Bee-eater sanctuary..that is one bird which, for now at least, does not need protection.). The sign and several of the granite poles with barbed wire strung across them, have fallen to the ground. Since the floods in the monsoon of 2019, the Forest Dept seems to have made no effort to build these up properly again. Instead of the hundreds of Blue-tailed Bee-eaters I have seen here in the past, we were lucky to see just seven of them.

The group seemed to enjoy the serene environs, and many of us walked up to the waters and cooled our feet. The rustling of the leaves of the huge Peepal and other trees, the breeze along the river, and sound of the river water…I most definitely recharged my spiritual batteries in the lap of nature.

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Banks of the Kaveri, Naguvanahalli

On the way home, I decided that I would introduce the group to some of our iconic foods and beverages…so we stopped at Bidadi, and the group tasted the Karnataka filter coffee, the Bidadi thatte iddli, and the Maddur vada. The softness of the iddlis encouraged several initially reluctant people to try one!

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We drove home in the glowing, golden sunlight of the evening.

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I was very happy to have shown the students, many of whom live and work almost exclusively in the cocoon of the IISc campus, a part of the State that I live in, and love so much. I am not sure how many missed the malls and the tourist spots, though when given a choice between Srirangapatna and Naguvanahalli, the unanimous vote was for the latter!

The eBird list for Ranganathittu is at

https://ebird.org/checklist/S63528082

and for Naguvanahalli, at

https://ebird.org/checklist/S63528408

I have put up my photos on an FB album at

An outing for the students of IISc.

Posted by Deepa Mohan on Monday, January 20, 2020

and on Flickr at

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I will next be sending an announcement about the 4th Sunday walk this month, which is going to be on the 4th Saturday instead. Meanwhile, enjoy “Mittwoch” (in German, the middle of the week is called exactly that!) and look forward to the weekend, with Republic Day falling on Sunday!

Cheers, Deepa.

Valley School area: A write-up for Ramki Sreenivasan

January 21, 2020

As part of the Bannerghatta Biosphere, the area of scrub jungle adjoining and abutting the Valley School ( a day school run by Krishnamurthy Foundation India) has for long been a birding hotspot.

The area that birders frequent comprises surprisingly varied terrain, for such a small acreage. There is scrub, open grassland, and a wooded area; a small stream that can run either full or reduce to a trickle in the dry months, adds a water body. This, of course, does not include the actual School campus, which, after a few instances of drunken behaviour, is not accessible for local birders in general.

As one walks along the path next to the barbed wire from the main gate of the school, one can take a right and get to the open grassland area. Sightings in this area include many flycatchers such as the White-throated Fantail,

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and the Tickell’s Blue (resident)

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Verditer

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or Ultramarine (migrant)

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in the strip of Pongaemia trees, the Yellow-wattled Lapwing and the occasional Grey Francolins

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or Quails

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in the long grass, and several raptors, like the Crested Hawk Eagle,

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which often perch on the distant trees, keeping a sharp eye out for prey.

Returning to the now well-marked path and walking along, one can see Red-vented,

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Red-whiskered

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and White-browed Bulbuls;

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Jerdon’s Bushlarks

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and Hoopoes

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forage on the ground or can be seen perched on the trees. The many interesting trees, including the Palash (Butea monosperma) and Date Palms ( Phoenix dactylifera), and even the small Tacoma stans bushes, and the Singpaore Cherry (Muntingia calabura) , are good places to sight the smallest birds we know in India…the Pale-billed Flowerpeckers

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and the Purple

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and Purple-rumped Sunbirds,

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with the rarer Loten’s Sunbird making an appearance now and then. Yellow-billed Babblers may be sighted everywhere along the path.

As one nears the building that was once built as a guest house for the School, and demolished by the Forest Dept in a legal tussle (which the School won), it’s time to look for Blue-faced Malkohas, Small Minivets and the rare delight of a Sirkeer Malkoha in the Eucalyptus trees.

The roof overhang of the abandoned building houses two nests of the Little Swifts,

which are used year after year.

As one walks further down the path, and passes the Coral Jasmine tree( Nyctanthes arbor-tristis), several kinds of babblers, like the Puff-throated

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or Tawny-bellied Babblers,

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make their appearace. The calls of several Flycatchers can be heard in and around the bamboo thicket, as also the unmistakable call of the resident family of the White-rumped Shama.

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Really lucky birders can sight the Mottled Wood Owl

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or the Brown Wood Owl… and a Rufous Woodpecker.

Back again, and returning along the “main” path, one can look up…to see the resident Honey Buzzards

soaring on the thermals; Indian Grey Hornbills

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scissoring their way through the air, and perhaps a Black-winged Kite, a Bonelli’s or Short-toed Snake Eagle to add to the species count. I cannot forget the day I saw a Black Baza in the air! Of course, the Black Kites and Brahminy Kites are always around.

The huge Peepal tree (Ficus religiosa) is often a good place to sight Golden Oriole

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and Black-naped Oriole,

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too, and several kinds of Munias, like the Scaly-breasted Munias,

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and Silverbills,

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can be observed foraging amongst the grass seeds.

The Banyan tree (Ficus benghalensis) is a great place for the White-cheeked and Coppersmith Barbets,

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and for other birds like Rose-ringed Parakeets,

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Jungle Mynas,

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and Rosy Starlings

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as they busily take advantage of the ripe figs. Jungle

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and House Crows,

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and the occasional Leafbird

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may also be seen.

There has not been a single time when any of us have returned from a birding trip to the Valley area disappointed; that is the kind of bird diversity that this hotspot offers.

Bird Race, 190120

January 20, 2020

Amit, Edgar,Harish, Keerthana, Kumuda, Poorvi,Prem,Radhika, Shreeya, Sriram,Valli, and I

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To Ravugodlu.

Shared packed brefus.

to NASA’s for coffee.

To Kaggala halli kere,
Gabbadi kere,
Harohalli kere,
Suvarnamukhi Reservoir. (Ate the rest of the food for lunch)

Did not go to

Bettahalli Kaval kere.

Kabbina haalu on the way back. Coffee and checklist at Checkpost.

Gathering and dinner at Royal Orchid, Manipal Centre. Subbu’s following Salim Ali talk. Too long and not apt for the evening.

The eBird list for Ravugodlu is at

https://ebird.org/checklist/S63541088

The FB album is at

https://www.facebook.com/deemopahan/media_set?set=a.10157241963673878&type=3

and the Flickr album is at

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4th Sunday outing, Muthanallur kere, 221219

December 27, 2019

Nowadays, what with the monsoon not willing to leave us, and the winter morning fog setting in as well, the question always is, “Will we be able to see anything at the beginning of a bird walk?”

Well, enough of us gathered at the pig farm at Muthanallur lake to answer this question…the answer being, “It’s difficult to distinguish colours, but the birds are there…and enjoy the lovely monochrome scenery until the colours are clear!”

The pig farm was probably not the most pleasant of places as a meeting point, noisome as it was. However, as soon as I took the mandatory group photo, we set off along the narrow path, and reached the bund of the lake. The water in the lake is still quite high, but the areas near the bund are completely covered by water hyacinth, making it impossible for any waders to forage there. We saw a few Grey Herons, a Purple Heron, and several Egrets, and in the bare trees, we watched a flock of Chestnut-tailed Starlings arrive and fly around noisily. This reminded me of the majestic Silk-cotton tree at Lalbagh, the blossoms of which are covered by flocks of these Starlings in season, making it a delightful sight!

The next sighting brought forth exclamation marks from everyone; one of the distant bare branches sat a Booted Eagle, one of the winter visitors which one generally expects to see at this location. A few Drongos were there, too, mobbing other birds as usual..but this time, it was Black Kites which mobbed the Eagle and sent it flying off. However, we kept sighting both the pale and dark morphs of this bird as they wheeled overhead in their search for prey.

We walked as far as we could along the bund, noting the excessive growth of Lantana and Parthenium, which crowded out much of the other plants one would like to see. Sunbirds, however, seemed to enjoy nectaring in the former, and the latter had a lot of Lynx spiders and Orb Weavers.. The “chit-chit-chit” of the Pale-billed Flowerpeckers kept up a rhythm to our walking.

Beyond the majestic Mahua tree and the newly-constructed Adi Parashakti temple, the path became really overgrown after a bit, so we retraced our steps to the temple, where we halted to share our snacks, and then walked down perpendicular to the lake bund. In the open space just beyond the temple, the Booted Eagles gave us an aerobatics show again; and several Large Grey Babblers, a Paddyfield Pipit, and some flitting-in-the-undergrowth Warblers kept us occupied.

The path into the Eucalyptus grove yielded a few more birds, and the swampy area that we ended up in had Purple Swamphens, a White-breasted Waterhen, the White-throated Kingfisher, and Bee-eaters too. We watched each bird’s behaviour for a while, and then turned and retraced our steps.

All this sounds as if we did the walking in a smooth, continuous way…but that is never the way it is with bird watching! Halt, find something that looks interesting, peer it at through binoculars, try and identify the bird, and then observe it…it’s a stop-and-go procedure, with the stops often outnumbering the “go” part!

We noticed several beautiful butterflies on the path, too, and it was pleasant to hear the sound of contented clicking as the macro photographers captured various six- and eight-footers. I was able to point out a few wildflowers like Ipomoea, Indigofera, Trichodesma (such scientific names are, to me, less fascinating than the common names…I much prefer “Coat Button” to “Tridax” and “Krishna Kranti” to Evolvulus!)

All too soon, we wound along the path in the Eucalyptus grove, with the last sighting of a Paradise Flycatcher to keep in our memory (and our memory cards) as a memento of another pleasant morning at Muthanallur kere. As usual, while some of us went home to waiting breakfasts, some adjourned to a group breakfast where we laughed and exchanged notes, and admired excellent shots on the bazooka lenses!

The eBird list is at

https://ebird.org/checklist/S62520502

I have put up my photos on an FB album at

https://www.facebook.com/deemopahan/media_set?set=a.10157160364603878&type=3

and the Flickr album is at

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Butterflies:

Apefly
Blue, Lesser Grass
Blue, Pale Gass
Blue, Pea
Blue, Zebra
Cerulean, Common
Emigrant, Common
Jezebel, Common
Mormon, Common
Pansy, Chocolate
Pansy, Lemon
Pansy, Yellow
Pierrot, Common
Rose, Crimson
Tiger, Plain
Tiger, Striped
Yellow, Common Grass
Yellow, Three-spot Grass

Cheers, and see you all with “Twenty-Twenty” vision next year!

Bird id…

December 24, 2019

He said, “I regret
To say, I can only identify
This bird called the Egret,
The other thing that’s long and white
That I can sight,”
He said with a sigh,
“Is…a cigarette!”

Hoskote kere, 220919

September 25, 2019

Email to Bngbirds:

The very first time I have changed the venue for a 4th Sunday walk! After getting the reports of Greater Flamingoes having landed at Hoskote lake, I felt it would be great if everyone were able to see this unusual sight. So I changed from the original venue (Bhutanahalli Pond and Suvarnamukhi temple in Bannerghatta NP) to Hoskote. But by Friday, we knew that “the birds had flown”…and all those who only wanted to come to see the Flamingoes, dropped out! But there was still a turn out of 50+ people on Sunday, disproving accusations of our being “twitchers”.

I usually find weather.com very accurate…but the morning of the 4th Sunday outing was one occasion when the forecast went completely wrong! As several of us gathered and drove to Hoskote, drops began dotting, and then streaming from, the windscreen. At the lake, we did try walking down the path…but the heavy rain had made a morass of it, and we found ourselves with clumps of mud on our shoes. So we decided that instead of the usual breakfast-after-birdng, we would reverse the order, and see if the birding got better a little later.
Here is my video of a few birders having breakfast…thanks to the rain, I could not get a group photo!

Off we went to Nandi Grand, and fortifying ourselves with hot food, we returned to the lake; The rain had certainly let up a little…and the lake truly lived up to its reputation of never disappointing. On the shore side, Munias and Swallows kept us clicking, and on the water, a Pied Kingfisher delighted us with its hovering, and vertical swoops into the water in search of a meal.

Egrets (all three kinds), Cormorants (again, all three), Grebes, Coots, Herons, and Painted Storks were active on the water, though the Spot-billed Pelicans still did not think it time enough to venture out from their “sitting room” on the far shore. A few hardy (and muddy!) souls did go down to the bamboo area and beyond, but most of us were able to sight quite a few birds from the bund. From under umbrellas and raincoat hoods, we looked at various drenched birds: Rose-ringed Parakeets, Sunbirds (which did not like being Rainbirds!) and Ashy Prinias (which wanted to be Dry Prinias).

But then, we also got some bonuses for having gone to the lake in spite of knowing that the Flamingos were Flamingone! A Grey Francolin sat, waiting out the rain, on a dry twig in the clutter; since we usually sight this bird scuttling away into the undergrowth, everyone had a good time, observing and clicking to their hearts’ content.
We then decided to try our luck on the field side, but only two cars had the courage to brave the muddy path down. We were rewarded by the sight of just one solitary Red Avadavat, and several Scaly-breasted and Tricoloured Munias, a Long-tailed Shrike and the sight of flocks of Glossy Ibis floating on to the lake.

The two cars were driven by (sounds like one of those Hindi Santa-Banta jokes!) Arun and Varun. Varun’s jeep, with its 4-wheel drive, made it safely back to the main road, and we were well on the way home when Sreyoshi called and told us that Arun’s car was stuck in the mud! We werel aas, too far away to return and help. But with the help of four local men, and with Chandu and Manpreet pitching in, the “Push”paka Vimana finally got free of the clutches of mud. They got a sighting of the Pied Cuckoo, as a reward!

On the way back, we stopped to observe the active nesting colonies of the Baya Weavers, and got a ringside seat to a domestic quarrel between Mr and Mrs Asian Koel. Well satisfied with our day, we went back, laughing at our damp but productive morning.

Though it was not a morning to watch butterflies, we still got some Grass Yellows, Common Mormons, Common and Crimson Roses, Emigrants, and a beautiful Common Lime in the field area. We also observed some handsome six-footers…wasps, ladybirds, jewel bugs, mating flies…and some eight-footers too, in the form of Orb Weavers and Crab Spiders. Several lovely wildflowers, nodding in the rain, were also beautiful…so there was enough to see and enjoy.
So…it was a very productive morning, in spite of the “Flamingone” and the rain!b

The eBird list, compiled by Chandu, is at
https://ebird.org/india/view/checklist/S60021164
(55 species)

My FB album is at
https://www.facebook.com/deemopahan/media_set?set=a.10156909705193878&type=3
and the Flickr album at

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Looking forward to the next outing,
Deepa.

Ravugodlu, 4th Sunday Bngbirds outing, 250819

August 29, 2019

Email to the Bngbirds egroup:

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Since it was cloudy with a possibility of rain, I was quite heartened that 30 of us decided to join for the 4th Sunday Bngbirds outing. We were all quite punctual at the meeting point near the small Anjaneya shrine,

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and the two majestic Banyan trees; and a few Indian Grey Hornbills flying past, and the loud cheep-cheep of a Tailorbird started us off on the path.

Ravugodlu is one of the last semi-scrub forest patches

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that groups can be taken to, without having to go to various Forest Department offices to submit applications in triplicate, for permission (only to be told that you should have done this a week ago!) We enjoyed the scenery and the bluffs on the side of which lies the Ragihalli area. It was delightful to children like Saanvi and Aanvi (er, not related to each other…they just happen to have similar names!) join in, binoculars and note-books in hand.

A few Green Bee-eaters, and the ubiquitous Black and Brahminy Kites were in the air; the rains had ensured that the pond along the path was also full. Several yellow birds…Ioras and Oriental White-eyes

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…brought flashes of brightness to the cloudy atmosphere.

The group rather quickly straggled along the path and I was never sure whether all of us saw all the birds or not! The first sighting of a Shikra, and a Short-toed Snake Eagle, upped our raptor count; we looked it up in the bird book,

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to be sure.

At the pond, we found a solitary White-browed Wagtail, and a small blue jewel of a kingfisher flew about, trying to get breakfast.

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As we reached the part of the path which widens out into a flat area, with the hill slopes and rocks surrounding us, the sunshine finally broke through the clouds and promptly pushed up the temperature! Little Swifts and Palm Swifts swooped around overhead, as did Red-rumped Swallows. We were delighted to see large flocks of Rose-ringed Parakeets flying around into the mango orchard area, as they looked for nesting sites and foraged. These may be very common birds even in the urban setting; but their bright green plumage and red beaks add a lovely dash of colour to any birding outing!

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At the open area, those of us who reached first, brought out our snacks, and I am afraid, though not repentant, that I pigged out on a lot of stuff ( eg Mamta’s superb dhokla and the soy sticks from Haldiram.) Fruits, almonds, many crisp snacks from the recent Janmashtami festival…all were despatched with gusto!

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Though I expected at least half the group to catch up, many people had already left, so only a few people joined up with us. We looked up to see another raptor, and with my usual question mark hovering over my head, I was able to confirm it only later as a Bonelli’s Eagle.

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As we walked back, we looked at several other living creatures…the beauty of the crimson seed pods of the Indian Redwing;

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blooming wildflowers such as the Node Flower,

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Indian Cadaba,

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Coat Button, the Devil’s Coach Whip, Vishnukranti, Cyanotis; the children had great fun touching the Touch-me-not leaves! I was able to show people near me the seed pods of the Indrajao or Pala Indigo,

Several reptiles like the Garden Lizard

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and the Rock Agama

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kept us occupied. Spiders of all kinds…Lynx, Funnel Web, Orb Weavers, Social Spiders…truly wove a web of fascination for us. A little Dung Beetle added some metallic colour.

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We didn’t see too many butterflies, but a Crimson Rose, some Common Mormons, a Common Lime, Emigrants, Jezebels,a Common Baron

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and Grass Yellows which looked like little flitting blossoms in the grass and reeds, added their beauty to the scene. A grasshopper was beautifully camouflaged in the reeds.

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As we returned to our cars, we were suddenly treated to a magnificient finale to the outing…a Black Eagle

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swept past quite low, and had us walking off in its wake, hoping to have a better sight of it.

After this unexpected bonus, I am sorry to say that all the erudite scientific and nature discussions gave way to “Where shall we stop for breakfast?” and the Davangere Benne Dose eatery was the unanimous choice.

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A few of us enjoyed the crisp dose-s with the dollops of potato and butter,

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and with our tummies, minds,hearts (and possibly camera memory cards!) full, we dispersed back to our separate lives and weekend commitments.

Here is most of our group before the start of the walk:

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The eBird list is at

https://ebird.org/india/view/checklist/S59241149

(62 species…not a bad haul for a monsoon morning!)

I have put up my photos on a FB album at

https://www.facebook.com/deemopahan/media_set?set=a.10156844507918878&type=3

For the non-FB friends, the Flickr album is at

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A few of us went to the Bhutanahalli pond to observe the Baya Weaver nesting activity:

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Even here, there were several handsome six-footers to captivate us:

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Jewel Bug

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Sweet Potato Weevil

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Blister Beetle

IMG_0165 Tussock Moth Cat early instar
Tussock Moth caterpillar

Every outing is full of the wonders of the natural world!

Deepa.

Doddakallasandra Kere, 3rd Sunday Bngbirds outing, 180819

August 18, 2019

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A question mark hung over today’s outing, as it rained all over Bangalore, well into the early hours of the morning….prompting most of us to ask ourselves, “Should we go, or turn over in our snug warm comforters for a little more sleep?” Well, some of us chose the former option, and Deepak was delighted to see quite a good turnout at Sri Kumaran School, Doddakallasandra, on such a soggy morning!

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At the very outset, I must thank Deepak for introducing me (and perhaps several others) to a lake that I did not know of in so many years of birding in and around Bangalore.So after people posed for the group photograph (several people joined later), we squelched our way into the muddy and rather slippery path to the lake. It was very heartening to see many newcomers, and we were especially happy to see the rapid recovery which Harish Chandra, one of our experienced birders, is making in his recovery towards good health. The devoted care by Neha, his daughter, is obviously bearing good results! He immediately stepped up to Manvi, and chatted to her as he usually does with children.

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Though cloudy and gloomy, we still started with Rose-ringed Parakeets, Spotted Doves and Red-vented Bulbuls. Several Purple-rumped Sunbirds, Loten’s Sunbirds (all beak and hardly any body!)

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and Pale-billed Flowerpeckers delighted us as they flitted about in spite of the absence of sunlight.

Though the sun did not make an appearance at any point during the walk, it proved to be a productive outing. Sri Eshwarappa (on the left in the pic below)

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is one of several volunteers living near the lake, who have been working tirelessly against alarming odds, to keep the lake alive; he spoke quietly, but with great passion, on the way we have lost our water bodies, and the need to preserve them.

At the lake’s edge, we looked out onto the rain-dappled water, where, as Prasad pointed out, many of the waterfowl were going about their business, heedless of the damp conditions. Darters,

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Cormorants (Little, Great and Indian) roosted on the central island or flew in the gloom; a large flock of Spot-billed Ducks were seen, and Deepak told us that they nest and breed here. A lone Spot-billed Pelican was…spotted!

A Common Iora and a couple of Oriental White-eyes provided a bright touch of yellow to the generally grey surroundings, but soon, my insurance policy (whereby I bring my umbrella or raincoast and it never rains) failed, and the raindrops started coming down in earnest. This stopped our walk, and we were content to just stand near the water’s edge and look out, and up, to see all the birds we could. “Chooee, chooee”, went the tailorbirds, and the “guttrr-guttrr” of the White-cheeked Barbets seem to agree that we should not be walking too far on the path that made me rename the place “Muddy kere!” We learnt about hearing the birds as well as seeing them…in such weather, a good skill to have!

Out came all our umbrellas, proving my point, that Bngbirds is the “umbrella” birding group in Bangalore!

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But that didn’t prevent us from seeing Greater Coucals, distinguishing between House and Jungle Crows, Common and Jungle Mynas, and Black and Brahminy Kites. We noted the presence of several Black-crowned Night Herons, along with Pond Herons and Grey Herons (er, ALL the birds were looking grey this morning!),

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with Little Grebes looking bright in their breeding plumage.

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Spot-billed Ducks and Little Grebes.

Prasad told us about the five facets of a bird which would be needed to identify them. (What are they?…come along next Sunday, to find out!) Several of us were on our first birding outing; and it was very impressive to see Manvi, Sha and Vismay there, bright and early.Children are the way to take birdwatching to the future!

Nor were the birds the only things that we observed. Acacia, Mahogany, Mango, Tamarind, Gulmohar and other trees were identified, and I showed Manvi the Passion Flower (she was unwilling to try the fruit, so I ate them!) the Devil’s Coach Whip, and other wildflowers that we often ignore on our nature walks. Beautiful Damselflies

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and a Scoliid Wasp

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kept us entranced.

The butterflies, too, were not very active because of the dull weather; a few Grass Yellows, one solitary Common Lime, a couple of little Blues, a Common Mormon and a Crimson Rose were the only ones I could see. I am sure the rest of them were sitting cosily under the sheltering leaves and thinking what fools these human beings were, to walk around in such weather!

We did make an effort to come back and walk on the deep (bund) side of the lake, but the rain put a stop to that, too…and for the first time in years, as we dripped our way, we forgot to open up and share our snacks! (I hope it will not happen again, either, for a long time!)

We learnt more about the lakes, the way they were constructed, and the way they have been encroached and destroyed; Naveen, who is a doctor,talked expressively about the need to protect our water bodies.

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Sri Eshwarappa also provided some fresh information, and we all dispersed, some of us going home to waiting families and engagements.

Some of us adjourned to a nearby darshini, where the absence of places to sit made us split into two groups, one eating in the “outstanding” area downstairs, and the other shivering in the unneccessary air-conditioning of “Dana Pani” restaurant, upstairs! Piping hot pongal, dosas, iddli and vadas were despatched with coffee.

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A lot of intormation was shared about various eating places in and around Bangalore. Prasad left early to attend the talk ( by Sri Karthik, att the National College Jayanagar) on the history of Bangalore, but not all of us were able to make it, the call of breakfast, and other commitments, being stronger!

We started birding here:

https://goo.gl/maps/WzqPpuGCu4vnRoZg8

The eBird list (49 species, an excellent count for such a rainy morning!) is at

https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S59069325

I have put up my FB album at

and for non FB friends, a Flickr Album at

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Bngbirds 4th Sunday outing: Jakkur Kere, 280719

August 1, 2019

Email to Bngbirds egroup:

Jakkur Lake, in the northern part of what is now “Bruhat (Greater) Bangalore”, is a waterbody which has many birds both resident and visiting, so I decided to make it the destination for the July outing. It seems to be popular with a lot of birders, too, and more than 40 of us (about 20 more people joined after I clicked the group photo below)

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met at the peepal tree where we usually go to see the roosting Alexandrine Parakeets.

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I was delighted to find that there were many children present too.

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Abir using his binoculars

That morning, however, was cloudy and overcast, and perhaps because of this, the Parakeet numbers were very low…not more than 3 or 4 at at time flew in, and even these did not stay long on the tree as they usually do. However, many people in the group had not seen these birds before, and even the sight of one or two of them, silhouetted against the monsoon gloom, was enough to make them quite happy. We also spotted some Flowerpeckers in the bushes nearby (though the entire area seems to have been cleared for yet more construction) and Ashwin pointed out a Pied Kingfisher flying across, no doubt to an appointment with breakfast.

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Binoculars out!

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Red-rumped Swallow.

Having also watched several of what I call “CKMP” (Crows, Kites, Mynas and PIgeons…the most common birds in the Bangalore skies!)

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A Brahminy Kite shows its wings and prey.

We once again explained that the common raptors were kites and not “Eagles”, we went to the main entrance of the lake, and entered.

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Pea Blue.

Though I was certainly happy at the large turnout, the disadvantage of large numbers was immediately apparent, as the group straggled out, and it was impossible to share information about the birds, trees, insects and plants with any but those who were near me.However, I had already introduced a contingent of very experienced “north Bangalore birders” …I would like to express my appreciation that so many people associated with eBird (well, OK, Bird Count India!) and some expert naturalists/birders made it for the outing Two birding scopes added to the experience of the participants, many of whom are new to birding.

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Suhel shows some young birders how to use the birding scope.

Ashwin, Harsha, Mittal, Payal, Subhadra, Suhel…you are not people I get to go birding with often, and it was a bonus! All of the experienced birders shared sightings and information with whoever was near them.

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Instead of a Spotted Owlet, we got a Spotted Dove!

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Senegal Golden Dartlet (Damselfly).

We found lots of Spot-billed Pelicans, Black-headed Ibis, and Grey Herons roosting in the central island;

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Birds in the central island

Little Grebes, Eurasian Coots (so aptly called “Naamada Pakshi” in Kannada, because of the white “naama”-like mark on their foreheads!) and Purple Swamphens could be seen along the shallows, with Pond Herons punctuating the shore. Little and Great Cormorats, and a couple of Darters, flew overhead. A lone mongoose ran along the opposite shore, disappearing in a trice, Several “Jakkur Lake regulars” like Venkat Mangudi and R Venkatesh, took us to a mango and jamun orchard

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The magnificient trees in the orchard reminded me of the avenue at Hulimangala.

adjacent to the lake, where a few more Parakeets, both Rose-ringed and Alexandrine, rewarded us. However, of the Spotted Owlets and the Mottled Wood Owl which are often sighted here…there was no sign! A Rufous Treepie, and our state bird, the Indian Roller

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gave us “darshan”, and we returned to the lake bund.

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Datura, a poisonous plant.

Out came some snacks.

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The masala peanuts which I brought, and a variety of biscuits, kept our tummies from growling too loudly. By this time, I realized that I could see very few people from the original group; so I collected some people who were interested, and we went to see the 10th century inscriptions, one mentioning Jakkur,

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which have been placed at the

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Byre Gowda Ranga Mandira, a public open-air theate space nearby. I explained, as best I could, about the “veera gallu” or hero stone, which depicts the “atma balidaana”

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or self-sacrfice by a king, being a ritual beheading with his own sword, as a token of gratitude to the deity.

Musing on both the birds and our history and heritage, some of us adjourned to New Krishna Sagar (another recommendation by Venkat!)

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Common Baron mud-puddling in front of New Krishna Sagar.

and then back to daily life.

I’ve put up my photos on an FB album,

here

And for the many non-FB users, on a Flickr album,

here
The eBird list for the morning is at https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S58517024

I have shared the list with those whose ids I have; if anyone wants me to share it with them, they can send me their eBird ids or email ids that they use on eBird.

Looking forward to meeting many of you in August…and thank you for the many words of appreciation about my write-ups and blogposts!

Two views…of me

July 25, 2019

At Begur Panchalinga Nageswara Temple, I was taking copious notes to help me make a blogpost about my visit, when I was clicked by Dr M B Krishna (affectionately called MBK).

Here is the “regular” photo.

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He then “artified”it on his mobile software:

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I must say, I like both!