Posts Tagged ‘environment’

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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The Nano graveyard

July 15, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 5, 2014

Adarsh Raju, Radha Rangarajan and Sangeetha Kadur put together this event on the 5th of June, at the Suchitra Film Society in Banashankari.

The documentary chronicles the work of James Balog, an award-winning photographer, who, along with his team, placed two dozen time-lapse cameras throughout the Arctic and other areas, to record melting and receding glaciers. Balog conducted the Extreme Ice Survey, a long-term project to preserve a visual legacy of how climate change and human activity affects glaciers. The film was directed by Jeff Orlowski.

(you can see a short bit here,it’s about 12 min)

Post the screening, Ulhas Anand spoke of the simple ways in which each of us can save resources. He said that if all the humans on the planet were given a 30’X 40′ plot of land with 500 sq ft of garden, next to each other, the total amount of land needed would fit into the nation of South Africa; and yet we only earmark 4% of our land for our fellow creatures.

Kalyan Varma then spoke, with illustrative slides, on the importance of not being stuck to old modalities of conservation which seek to separate wildlife from human beings, literally fencing them away from each other. With special reference to grassland habitats, he said that such measures were proving counterproductive. He also showed graphic video footage of the torture endured by elephants recently captured from the wild, and “trained” to domesticity. There was a little discussion following this, but since it was getting late, the evening came to an end.

The event also provided an excellent opportunity for those interested in these topics to meet and catch up. It was pleasant to meet several people who are well-known for their expertise in the birding and wildlife fields.

There was a strong NTP contingent: Adarsh, Anjali, Chirdeep, Kalyan, Kesava, Parimala, Poornima, Radha, Raji, Sreeram and Sumeet (and yours truly) were those who were there (I might have missed someone out inadvertently, with my bad memory!)

In fact, the meet-and-greet aspect was so pronounced that I did wonder if at such events, we are just preaching to the choir. Those who attend are usually those who are already well aware of the problems and challenges posed by the environmental issues of today. Perhaps a better way to look at such events is that attendees go back with further information to disseminate the message to others, as many of us are doing in various ways.

But whether it’s a discussion forum or a social occasion, (or both) I do hope there will be more such screenings! Thank you, organizers, for an event that was nearly punctual, and had a good turnout, even though it was a working day, and there was very heavy rain before the event started.

World Environment Day, 050614

June 5, 2014

Does it move?
Kill it!
Does it sting?
Squash it!
Does it grow?
Cut it down!
Done with it?
Throw it out of your window!
Need to go somewhere?
Take the car!
Have some money?
Consume more!

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Then, have plastic posters printed, saying, “World Environment Day”, with the photos of prominent pols, put it up in a public place, and feel happy that a praiseworthy effort has been taken.

How to recycle envelopes

October 11, 2012

I’ve been doing this for years, and been reviled as “cheap”…but now recycling has become “cool” and here’s my how-to….

Requirements:

Envelopes. This obviously works better with the long envelopes that arrive in the post. “Windowed” envelopes won’t work (those with a cellophane window to display the name and address inside.) I use this method on invitation cards and thick envelopes, too, but be prepared for the occasional tearing and wastage.

A sharp paper-knife, of the sort I have photographed. The blade needs to be thin, long and sharp.

How:

Slit open the glued folds of the envelope, on the width (after having opened it carefully to preserve the closing flap).

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Slit open the glued side along the length on the middle of the back of the envelope. Please do this carefully.

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Fold the envelope inside out (the flaps on the length should also be reversed, so that the “gummed” side doesn’t show.)

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Glue the flaps carefully, and let dry. Voila, a nice recycled envelope is ready.

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I mark them with my “recycled” trade-mark, a tiny one at the corner of the back of the envelope:

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There! It takes about…3 minutes to do, that’s all. Particularly with the thick brown-paper envelopes, it works really great…but if you have a sharp paper-knife, you can recycle all sorts of envelopes.

Windmills, bell, and votzit…

October 3, 2012

On our trip to Daroji/Hampi, we took the Chitradurga/Hospet route, and near Chitradurga, we saw the majestic sight of the windmills turning:

Harvesting the wind
The windmills turn
A permanent source of power
That we must learn
To harness and use…
And shake loose
The stranglehold
Of rock-oil juice.
May windmills increase many fold…

In Hampi,while having dinner at Hotel Varsha, I explored the place and found a very knowledgeable numismatist, Mr V S Kotreshi

and since I was intereted in the things he had in his shop, he demonstrated this “singing bowl” to me:

Man-made wonders are sometimes as amazing as Nature’s miracles!

OK, votzit? Answer will be provided soon. No one has got it on Facebook yet…

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Six-footers in trouble…

July 19, 2012

On the nature trail at Ragihalli, we found, in the rain, that this carelessly thrown plastic cup was full of rainwater….and two insects were swimming, literally, for their lives….

I video’d them and then rescued them…When are we going to stop littering, and especially, littering with plastic?

The Rain Tree

April 3, 2012

Why is it called “Rain”
When it flowers in the hot sun?
By the time the monsoon arrives
The flowering is done.

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Perhaps the tree is called so
Because it rains so much on us….
Shade, shelter to creatures, clean air;
Beauty and grace.. in silence, without any fuss.

Off to Gir, to see the Asiatic Lions (never been there)…back in a week 🙂

One of the subjects of an article….

December 10, 2011

Nice to be written about, instead of writing about others, for a change!

Click here for the article by Sameer Shisodia

and sometime ago (when the article appeared, I was away in the US and never saw it….just now, Deepa Jayaraman dug out the link for me!)

Thank you, Sameer…and my namesake!

“Jugaad” in Bangalore!

December 6, 2011

“Jugaad” means, “innovation”, often thinking out-of-the-box. A mode of public transportation, with the engine of a tractor, has already taken on this name in several states of India.

On Sunday, as we were heading out for our nature trail on Bannerghatta Road, I spotted this tricycle-cart that had been fitted with a two-wheeler engine, and was puttering along happily!

I don’t think this gives very environment-friendly emissions, however creative and innovative it is!

What a pity that pedal-power is seen by the working people as something too difficult to sustain. I was actually thinking of an initiative to re-introduce cycle-rickshaws….