Posts Tagged ‘butterflies’

Visit to Ziro Butterfly Festival, Sept 2-9, 2019

September 12, 2019

Since it was a very, very long trip…Bangalore-Guwahati-Itanagar-Ziro-Pange WLS and back…I simply can’t describe everything in detail, but the visual story of what I experienced, with captions, is in a series of albums on Flickr.

Day 1, 020919, Blr-Guwahati:

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Fisherman at Deepor Beel

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Yellow Helen at Deepor Beel

Day 2, 030919, Guwahati and Rani WLS, overnight journey to Naharlagun (Itanagar)

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Grey Pansy, Kirtti Inn

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Crimson Sunbird, Kirtti Inn

Day 3, 040919, Itanagar, journey to Ziro

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Sonku and her son Ranka

Day 4, 050919, Ziro to Pange WLS

https://www.flickr.com/photos/86494503@N00/albums/72157710798479712/with/48716450193/

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Tytler’s Multicolored Flat

Day 5, 060919, Pange WLS

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Bhutan Glory

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Juvenile Dark-sided Flycatcher

Day 6, 070919, Pange WLS to Ziro

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Paresh Churi’s color-pencil work of the Kaiser-e-Hind, the queen of Talle Valley

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An Apatani priest recites a prayer to save the crops from destruction by pests

Day 7, 080919, Walk in Ziro, overnight journey to Itanagar

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View of Old Ziro from Ziro Point

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Lunch at Potin, on the way to Itanagar

Day 8, 090919m Itanagar to Guwahati, and flight back to Bangalore

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Moving furniture

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Blue-tailed Bee-eater

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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!

Nature Feature, July ’19: A doomed romance

July 16, 2019

This is butterfly season; you must have noticed these beautiful creatures fluttering past you, in the gardens and even on the roads, everywhere in the city. If you observe them carefully, you will find many moments of drama and tension!

One lesser-known fact about butterflies is that they hatch out of the pupa (it’s called eclosing) as fully mature adults; something I had to think about and accept, being only used to a progression of living beings from infanthood onwards to adulthood.

Because of this fact, sometimes, male butterflies try to mate with a female as soon as she’s emerged from her cocoon; but if the emergence is not complete, or faulty, the romance is doomed. I saw one instance of this at Hoskote Lake, recently.

Three-spot Grass Yellow : Feeding . . .

The butterfly I am featuring here is the Three-spot Grass Yellow, a very common butterfly in our gardens and fields. You can see a perfect speciman in the image above, nectaring on a common wildflower called the Devil’s Coach Whip (Stachytarpeta species)

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You can see the mating of the large butterfly with a much smaller one here. All butterflies need a period of rest after eclosing, to allow them to dry out their wings carefully, and then fly off to lead their lives.

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The female, to begin with, was rather small. The male did not, I think, allow her time to let her dry her wings; so they fluttered around, in obvious discomfort, for a bit. Then they separated, and the female, unable to fly with the wings that dried crookedly, fell to the ground.

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I carefully lifted her on to a leaf; I could not do any more, but had to leave her to her fate. I think her life in the wild would be very short without the ability to fly. This is the ruthless law of the survival of the fittest; if the butterfly is not healthy, it cannot survive and thus produce less than healthy offspring.

It reminded me, sadly, of the many young girls in our cruel world, who are attacked and abused; their wings, too, are broken, and they bear the scars of such incidents forever. Nature is not always kind or beautiful; it takes some effort to accept how relentless life, and death, can be.

The butterfly dirge

July 2, 2019

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Rounded Pierrot

When I started looking
At lovely butterflies,
I felt that very soon I’d be
Lepidopterally wise.

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Pointed Ciliate Blue

From Albatross to Zebra Blue
I thought it was a cinch
But the butterfly alphabet
Is killing me, inch by inch.

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Dark Grass Blue

First came the Blues, and blues were what
These Lycaenids cast me into.
Even Grass Blues are Lesser and Tiny…
Pale and Dark forms, too!

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Anomalous Nawab

Another colour, the Yellow, this time,
Cast my life in further doubt.
Three-spotted, Spotless, Common, more….
I knew not what I was about.

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Spot Swordtail

The Rings put all my mathematics
And basic numbers to shame.
Alas, a Common Four-ring
And a Five-ring often look the same!

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Danaid Eggfly

Brown was a colour I felt at ease with…
Until it was preceded by “Bush”.
Trying to find out which one it was
Reduced my brain to mush.

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Golden Angle

Then came the procession
Of the scientific names;
The dry and wet-season forms,
The gentlemen, and the dames.

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Yellow Orange-tip

Under all this profusion
Of names and facts, I groan
The only butter fly I am sure of
Is when Amul or Vijaya is thrown!

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Lilac Silverline

Campus Bird Count, IIMB, 170219

February 21, 2019

Many of us who use eBird have observed the past four days (15, 16, 17 and 18 Feb, ’19) for two bird-counts: the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) and the Campus Bird Count, both of which took place all over the world.

Experts like Suhel and Praveen can give you a very good overall picture of how these two counts went, all over India; at my (amateur) level, I can confidently say that the three southern States of Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu have had a lot of birders uploading lists from various spots and campuses. The most remote spot I’ve seen a bird list being uploaded from is Mizoram, in the north-east.

The campus I’d chosen to conduct a bird count at, for the past few years, is that of the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, on Bannerghatta Road.

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After a terror attack several years ago, the campus had been closed to visitors other than those who had business or educational appointments. I would like to credit Prof. Shainesh of IIMB, who is a keen birder, along with his wife Leena, for opening the doors to various walks: trees, butterflies…and birds! I would also like to thank Dr Selvarajan Rajeshwaran and Vidhya Sundar, who first introduced me to IIMB, and have kept up both the IIMB and our personal friendships!

This year, the decision was made to let the Environment and Nature Society (ENS) a student organization, to take the major role in organizing the event. On the morning of 17th Feb ’19, about a dozen of us, amateur birders, entered the campus, and met Pradeep Kumar, of the ENS, who had passed the word around to students and residents at the campus. Prof. Shainesh and Leena were also there, and I was pleasantly surprised to see some second-year students who, after celebrating their placements in the corporate world, yet found time to wake up early and join the walk. I was equally happy to find some of the faculty, such as Prof. Jayaram Uparna, attending. The acquaintances made during such events are a big plus for me!

We started with the two Coral trees (Palash, Butea monosperma) trees that are now in full bloom. Rose-ringed Parakeets, Brahminy and Chestnut-tailed Starlings, House and Jungle Crows, Purple-rumped Sunbirds and Pale-billed Flowerpeckers, Spotted Doves and the lone swooping Ashy Drongo…they thronged the flowers on the trees, and we spent quite a bit of time watching all of them having a breakfast feast, sprinkling the ground below the trees with fallen flowers as a result. Meanwhile we also recorded several kinds of waterfowl, such as Black-crowned Night Herons, Little and Great Cormorants, flying overhead, heading from one lake to another.

As we moved on, the many trees and the leaf clutter yielded a variety of woodland birds, too. Cinereous Tits, and some warblers appeared. We were able to let the others listen to the calls of the White-cheeked and Coppersmith Barbets, and explain how the Drongos can imitate other bird calls.

One highlight was seeing a Shikra couple bringing in twigs repeatedly, and beginning their nest high up in a tree.

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The onlookers could hear the difference between the call of the Shikra and the other common raptors of the Bangalore skies, the Black and the Brahminy Kites.

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White-cheeked Barbet eating the fruit of the Jungli Jilebi

Almost at the end of the walk, there was an unexpected delight waiting….the white ribbons of the Paradise Flycatcher, as it flitted amongst the mango trees and the faculty quarters, delighting everyone! Praveen caught an Asian Brown Flycatcher on camera, too.

Even though it was a bird count, we could not ignore other living beings. IIMB has greened the campus which was just barren some decades ago; trees like the Jungli Jilebi (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pithecellobium_dulce) the South American trees like the Golden Trumpet Flower (Tacoma aurea), the Rain Tree (Samanea saman), the Moulmein Rosewood

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… which were once upon a time imported, but have “settled down” very well on Indian soil, and our “native” trees like the Neem ( Azadirachta indica), the various kinds of Ficus (including Peepal and Banyan) the Mango (Mangifera indica), and the Silk Cotton (Bombax ceiba) were all noted. A Calabash tree ( Crescentia cujete) had its balloon-like shiny fruits on show. We noted how many birds enjoyed frequenting the Singapore Cherry ( Muntingia calabura).

Six-footers also came in for their share of attention, especially at the flower beds, where several butterflies were nectaring and also sunning. Bees such as the common honey bee (Apis dorsata) and the Blue-banded Bee (Amegilla cingulata, also an “import” from Australia, like the Eucalyptus trees!) were busy with pollen and pollination, and occasionally fell prey to some of the birds.

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We finally wound up our bird count, after a couple of the participants sighted the resident Spotted Owlets, though we could not see the Barn Owls that are regularly heard.

ENS very hospitably gave us a lovely breakfast,

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and we dispersed, very happy at having spent a productive morning, and at the same time,being able to contribute some data in the name of citizen science.

We thank IIMB, once again, for the opportunity.The campus is now a green oasis in an increasing-by-the-day concrete jungle, and the two points of view always remain as questions: Would there be more birds in this oasis because of the greenery, or would the fragmentation of the green cover reduce the number of birds? Data that such events help to provide, will give the ornithologists a clearer picture over a period of years.

The eBird list is at

https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S52805810

45+ species in an urban oasis, in the middle of a concrete jungle, where trees are being chopped down daily, is a great count indeed!

Butterflies:

Awl, Common Banded
Blue, Gram
Blue, Pea
Blue, Zebra
Brown, Common Evening
Castor, Common
Cerulean,Common
Crow, Common
Eggfly, Danaid

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Emigrant, Common
Jezebel, Common
Judy, Suffused Double-banded
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Leopard, Common
Lime, Common
Orange-tip, White
Pansy, Chocolate
Pansy, Lemon
Rose, Common
Skipper, Indian Grizzled
Tiger, Blue
Tiger, Plain

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Yellow, Common Grass
Yellow, Three-spot Grass

Looking forward to reports from other campuses and ‘backyards’,

Deepa.

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Official report: Butterfly Festival, Doresanipalya, 171118

November 20, 2018

I was about to write something about this event for my blog, and realized my official report for the Karnataka Forest Dept would do just as well!

The founder-members of Bangalore Butterfly Club (BBC), from Nagraj’s slide presentation:

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The Karwar Swift, not very common.
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The second Butterfly Festival at Doresanipalya Forest Research Station, celebrated on 17th November, 2018, was very successful.

These ladies, making the rangoli, brought as much of colour as the butterflies did, to the event.
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Though limitations on the space available at the venue, in terms of the hall for presentations, resulted in the event not being open to the public at large, a gathering of more than 150 people in total, with a number of casual visitors, ensured a good attendance.

The event was conducted by the Karnataka Forest Department (KFD) in association with Bangalore Butterfly Club (BBC) and National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS).

The gathering:

The flame that was lit.
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Everyone gathered in the morning and participants signed their names in the register. There was planting of some butterfly-friendly species of plants and trees, by several KFD personnel.

A KFD guard documents the occasion:
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After a delicious breakfast, the children from Janak Academy, and the participants, went on butterfly walks, conducted by various members of BBC.

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Many butterflies, and other interesting living beings and creatures, were observed.

Common Pierrot
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When everyone returned, some freshly-eclosed (just emerged from pupae) butterflies, such as Crimson Rose, Common Lime, Baronets, and others were released, to the delight of all present. This release, suggested by the outgoing APCCF, Sri Dilip Das, was spectacular, drawing exclamations from the audience.

Smt Pushpalatha B K, RFO (Utilization), sang a melodious prayer.

Sri Subba Rao, ACF,Seed Unit , was the master of ceremonies, compering the event and introducing the various guests to the audience.

Sri Jagannath, DCF, Social Forestry (Research), Bangalore, opened the proceedings by welcoming the distinguished guests on the podium: Sri Sanjay Hosur, IFS, APCCF (R&U), Sri Punati Sridhar, IFS, PCCF (HoFF), Sri Sanjai Mohan, IFS, PCCF, and MD, KFDC, Sri Jayaram, IFS, PCCF (Wildlife), and Sri Vinay Kumar from EMPRI. Dr Krushnamegh Kunte, Associate Professor, NCBS, was also on the podium.

Sri Rohit and Dr KK (Dr Krushnamegh Kunte) at the tree-planting.
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RFO, Ms Hima Bhat.
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Everyone admired the stage decoration.
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Sri Manjunath C Tambakad, IFS, CCF (Research) Bengaluru, welcomed the gathering. The other guests also spoke, stressing the need for conservation, and expressing the hope that the festival takes on a national hue from next year. He appreciated the event and expressed his hope that sensitizing the children at an early stage would lead to their playing a bigger role in conservation of forests for tomorrow.

Sri Punati Sridhar hoped that Doresanipalya would be a role model for setting up of several tree parks consisting of butterfly larval host plants across Bangalore, which would serve as a haven for butterflies. He appreciated the importance of organizing events like the butterfly festival as a step towards conservation of butterflies and bees, which, he said, were critical for pollination, and by extension, for the survival of life on earth.

Sri Sanjai Mohan expressed his hope that the Doresanipalya campus would be declared as a butterfly reserve. He emphasized that he was glad that events such as the butterfly festival were being organized with participation from public at large and passionate butterfly enthusiasts and butterfly scientist community. He expressed that this kind of participation from public was important to spread awareness about conservation of forests and its creatures

Kum Snigdha sang a beautiful song on butterflies, “Patharagitti Pakka”, on butterflies, by D R Bendre.

The guests and several of the schoolchildren also planted some plants and trees, such as Taare (Terminalia bellarica) and Kadamba (Neolomarckia kadamba)
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Sumptuous breakfast
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In the hall of the KFD office, three presentations were held: Dr Krushnamegh Kunte spoke about butterfly research and citizens’ initiatives in conservation; Sri S Karthikeyan, Chief Naturalist, Jungle Lodges and Resorts (JLR) spoke about butterfly diversity in India, and Sri Nagraj Veeraswami, a member of BBC, showed the audience the many butterflies that he has photographed in the Doresanipalya campus, with an erudite commentary by Sri Ashok Sengupta, one of the founder-members of BBC.

Simultaneously, there were three activities in the building: a display of photographs of butterflies, by various members of BBC
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a painting competition for children, with butterflies as the theme

and an origami workshop, conducted by Sri Seby Manalel and Kum Arpitha Bhat.
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The children, and some of the adults, too, enjoyed these activities. There was also a counter for playing games from “Kadoo”, where many people were seen enjoying themselves.

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Dr Krushnamegh Kunte donated some of the butterfly brochures (a guide to the butterflies of Bangalore) designed by NCBS to the KFD for their reference, and announced that NCBS would also donate the brochures to any schools that needed them.

Sri Rohit Girotra, another of the founding members of BBC, spoke about how the festival took shape, and his hopes for the future of both the event and the butterflies of Bangalore.

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The audience again gathered for the prize-giving and closing ceremonies. Dr Krushnamegh Kunte, Sri S Karthikeyan, and Sri Nagraj Veeraswami were thanked for their presentations.

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The prizes for the painting competition were distributed,

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and the certificates for the origami workshop, the photography display, and general participation were given out.

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The sound engineer did a good job, too.
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The teachers from Janak Academy expressed their appreciation of the event and the opportunity to have the students participate.

A formal vote of thanks concluded the proceedings, and the gathering adjourned for lunch, dispersing afterwards with happy memories of the festival.

Plains Cupid
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Deepa Mohan
Freelance writer and member of BBC
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I have put up the photographs of all the events of the day on a Flickr album

here

And on an FB album, set to public viewing,

here

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To a dead butterfly

November 1, 2018

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Oh, little one…why did you die?
Were you attacked by a bird
That wanted you for food?
Or did your energy just give out,
As your wings folded up for good?
With so many others about,
Your death throes not heard?
No answers.You lie there…why, oh why?
The stilling of life, the departure of breath…
The profound mystery of life…and death.

How different birders would describe the same outing….

October 13, 2018

On World Migratory Bird Day, three of us went to Hulimavu Lake. We were hoping to sight the Greater Painted Snipes and the Indian Eagle Owls. When I returned home, it struck me that different kinds of birders would have different perspectives on the morning…so here are three diametrically different versions that a “focus” birder and a “hobby” birder would give!

The “tick” birder

We sighted several Pelicans but we could not see even a single Snipe. We then went to Hulimavu hillock but there again, only one of the Eagle Owls showed itself very briefly. Altogether a disappointing morning. Hope to get to see these two birds soon.

The “click” birder

We went to Hulimavu kere to try and sight the Greater Painted Snipes that had been so easily seen when Vidhya took the group on a birding walk on October Bird Day. However, the mist soon obscured the sun to the point where we could not even see the far shore of the lake. The lack of light proved a big hindrance as we could not take clear shots even of the many Pelicans and Herons we saw on the lake, The mist made even the sun appear like the moon and the colours were very muted because of it. We could use our cameras very little, and went home without many satisfactory shots.

The “pick” (whatever one wants to see and observe) birder

We went to Hulimavu kere to try and sight the Greater Painted Snipes that had been so easily seen when Vidhya took the group on a birding walk on October Bird Day. However, the mist soon obscured the sun to the point where we could not even see the far shore of the lake. It was quite magical to see more than a hundred Spot-billed Pelicans dotted over the lake, later coalescing into a fairly large pod. A few other migrants like a juvenile Rosy Starling, a Brown Shrike, a and lots of Barn Swallows swooping around, kept our eyes glued to the binoculars. The sighting of the Eagle Owl was brief but Robins, Bee-eaters and other birds practiced their ground exercises and their aerobatics. It was delightful to see a single Brahminy Myna amongst the Common Mynas on the Jamun tree. We wound up with the wonder of about a hundred Barn, Red-rumped and Streak-throated Swallows in a huge flock. We observed several insects, wildflowers, plants, and the lives of the people living near the lake shore.

Well, sometimes we are a combination of all three!

My eBird list is

here

(not a bad haul for a “focus” dip on the Snipe!)

And I’ve put up photos on my FB album at

here

Looking forward to the next outing, already!

Here are a few photos (not only birds) from my Flickr album (clicking on any of the photos will take you to the album.)

Sunrise:

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High-rise with its “head in the clouds”:

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Shyleaf, a fodder plant:

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“Washington”, where laundry is dried:

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“Washington Echo”, about a kilometre away, where the sound of the clothes being slapped on the stones echoes from the granite bluff:

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Flies:

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Pea Blue:

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Red-wattled Lapwing:

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Pied Paddy Skimmer:

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Streaked Weaver:

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Swallows on the wire:

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Jai with our food at Sri SLV Bhavan: Neer dosa and khara baath.

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Mist on the lake:

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Turahalli State Forest, 180918

September 27, 2018

Warning, contains images that may be disturbing.

The Bangalore skyline from Turahalli

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Post to the bngbirds egroup:

Today was the fourth time in a few days that I went to Turahalli. After Vijetha Sanjay discovered the patch of the carnivorous plant, Drosera burmannii (Sundew plant), I have taken friends to see the plant; they have all been surprised by how tiny it is!

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Today was the first weekday that I have been to Turahalli in a while. As we climbed the path to the Muniswara temple, we heard the temple bells being rung and some chanting too. What, however, the three of us were unprepared for, was to have four chickens beheaded and their bodies thrown in front of us, twitching as they bled to death.

The family offering the worship included young children; they were obviously inured to this, and everyone seemed quite matter-of-fact about it.

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Sacrifice is a part of many rituals of worship, and I cannot presume to judge such customs. But being completely unused to it, it was very unsettling indeed. Even more upsetting was seeing the head of one of the birds lying amongst the flowers offered for worship.

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So if anyone is not used to watching such customs, please do not go up to the temple on a Tuesday, as it seems to be the day for such sacrifices. I have never, in all my years of visiting Turahalli, seen this before.

However, the rest of our outing was very pleasant indeed. The patch of the carnivorous plants was rewarding, as was the brightly-coloured male Red Avadavat which seems to sit regularly on some dried trees near the top of the hillock.

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Several kind of insects,spiders and flies showed us their beauty. Four Southern Birdwings flashed their bright yellow and black as they flew overhead near the Eucalyptus trees. A Pale Grass Blue opened up the blue as it repeatedly sat on the freshly-fallen petals of the Cassia senna.

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Spotted Dove
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A dog near us charged at a young peacock, which flew up into the Eucalypus and afforded us a shot.

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A young family who’d brought a professional photographer (and a plastic sign saying “BABY GIRL”) to capture their daughter’s infant moments, kept yelling at her to look at the camera. (“IL NODU, PUTTA!”) Patient for a while, she finally started her own bit of yelling when she was made to put on a pair of blue plastic butterfly wings and a blue antenna headband!

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Such lilttle vignettes kept us quite happy as we slowly wended our way back, and went home after a nice hot coffee at SLV Coffee, where the ever-smiling Triveni was working as hard as usual.

A fly:

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Blister Beetle with pollen from the Stachytarpeta flowers:

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I have put up the photos from the outing

here

and the Flickr album is

here

And have made a short video of the wonderful “pot” entrance that the ants were making to their nest:

Also rather struck by the exponential growth in the human habitation in the less-than-ten-years I have been visiting Turahalli, I made a quick video of the skyline:

The eBird list is

here

International Vulture Awareness Day (IVAD), Ramnagara, and Nelligudde kere, 010918

September 6, 2018

had nearly forgotten that the first Saturday of September is International Vulture Awareness Day; a reminder jogged my memory, and my friends and I shelved our Maidanahalli plans for a visit to Ramadevara betta (hillock), to see the only known roosting and nesting spot of the Long-billed Vultures in Karnataka. The Karnataka Vulture Conservation Trust, in collaboration with the Karnataka Forest Department, had organized a walk to see the vultures, and talks by experts, an event open to all.

We were a group that started from the south, north, and east of the city, and met up at the gates of the Vulture Sanctuary, by 6.15am.’

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UGS. Gopinath, Nikhil, Arpitha, Sriram, Sharmila, Keerthana, Subhadra,Harish, Vijay, Tara, Arnab, Anisha,Sahas, Nitin, Regin. Kneeling with Arjun : Praveen and Srini. Ramnagara, 010918

Many of my friends were visiting Ramnagara (Ramnagaram? I am not sure which is the right name) for the first time, so, having driven just past the entrance gates, we parked our cars,

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and clambered up on the rock face (slippery, alas, from the recent rains!)

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and looked up at the vultures that could be seen (three of them at that time).

The single one:

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And two sitting together (they mated a little later)

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After looking our fill at the birds, which were preening, we also climbed up the hill to the gate of the temple, and went up a little towards the temple,

hoping to sight the beautiful Yellow-throated Bulbul which is another resident of the betta. We were lucky to sight just one, upon a rock!

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We had not realized that this date coincided with a festival at the Rama temple upon the hillock; we were not sure if the increased number of visitors was just due to its being a weekend, until we saw the idols of the deities, Rama, Lakshmana, Seeta and Anjaneya, being taken in a palanquin (on a modern tractor!) in procession, up the hill. The vulture finds a place in the epic poem, Ramayana, the story of the ideal man, Rama. Jatayu, the vulture, finds Rama’s wife Seeta being abducted by Ravana, the king of Lanka, and fights valiantly to save her, until the ten-headed Ravana cuts off his wings. He falls, fatally wounded, to the ground. When Rama and Lakshmana come upon him, he recounts all that has happened to them, before giving up his life. Here upon the rocky boulders of Ramadevara betta, the old story somehow took on colorful life as I watched the trio of deities and their faithful attendant Hanuman, wending their way to the temple, bejewelled and bedecked with flowers.

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Closeup of the adorned idols

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We watched the posters for the Vulture Awareness Day being put up,

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and after meeting up with Mike and Chris, when they came to the viewing area, we were also able to glimpse the ungainly-on-the-ground and graceful-in-the-air birds with the help of the scope that Mike set up for everyone.

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Many of us also saw the Long-billed Pipit for the first time…so birds with long bills seemed to be the order of the day!

We had left the city by 4.30am and by this time, in spite of the snacks we shared, the call of the white-breasted iddli was quite loud in our ears! So off we went to Sahasa Kala Shiksana Kendra (Centre for training in martial arts) where the event is held every year. After the pouring rain of last year, it was very pleasant to have the sun shining, and patches of blue sky appearing amidst the grey monsoon clouds.

We lined in an orderly queue and partook of a piping hot and delicious breakfast,

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and with our mental and physical batteries recharged, settled down to the proceedings.

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One of the star attractions, of course, was a White-rumped Vulture attending…or at least, an actor wearing a very well-made costume of the bird! Many of the young men present had a fun time with the “bird”, which was the mascot for the event. I would like to know who created the marvellous costume!

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These young men took the “help the vultures” message very seriously!

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It was also heartening to see how many people had made it to the event. I must mention the Forestry College in Sirsi, which always sends its students, I have interacted with them several times, at several venues (also at Kaiga) and found many of them knowledgeable about conservation issues. Several of the people who have worked untiringly to have the area declared as a vulture sanctuary, including Dr Subramanya, also took their places on the stage, and shared what the vultures mean to the ecosystem, and the history of the decline of these birds, along with the efforts made to save them from extinction. Cadets, schoolchildren, nature lovers from near and far…we all listened to the inputs being given, and took our certificates of participation.

Some of us decided to go back and see if we could get shots of the vultures flying off from the cliff, and were successful. Some of us also stopped over at Bidadi to visit the Nelligudda lake.

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Apart from an edging of the now-to-be-expected trash, which included a dead fish,

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the lake was a serene setting,and under the shade of two gigantic banyan trees, a cool breeze blew.

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Several waterfowl, including two Woolly-necked Storks,

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kept our binoculars and lenses busy; sighting two mongoose in the fields added to our delight. Both Brahminy and Black Kites dived repeatedly into the water, fishing for food. By this time, several butterflies had also emerged, and we watched as they flitted around us, too.

Grass Dart:

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Some reptiles came out to bask on the rocks.

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Well satisfied with the morning, we drove rather sleepily back to the city, making plans about whether to go birding the next morning or to spend it getting back into the good books of our families!

I have put up my photos on my FB album
here

And for other photos on the Flickr album, click

here

Our grateful thanks to the organizers of the event, which we intend to support every year, come September!

Cheers, Deepa.

Let me end with the beauty of this mushroom!

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