Posts Tagged ‘event’

4th Sunday outing, March ’18, and bird census: Hoskote kere, 250318

March 27, 2018

Email to bngbirds egroup:


I had been toying with the idea of making Hoskote kere the venue for the 4th Sunday outing, when the email from Swaroop and his team arrived, announcing the bird count there. That made the decision easy, and several of us gathered at 6.30am at the Gangamma temple on the bund of the lake.

We had a good mix of experts and newbies, children and adults, binoculars and bazookas 😀


Swaroop and his team


sent us in several directions, to see what we could see, and document what we saw. The paths were as as follows:

Dipu K, et al: north west edge
Rajneesh Suvarna, et al: Raghavendra Talkies
Vinay Bharadwaj, et al: east edge
Ashwin Viswanathan. et al: west edge:
Deepa Mohan, et al: Meeting point plus south-west edge

I was happy to take the children from Om Shri School along, as part of the initiative to involve schools.I found the children very interested; they patiently learnt how to use my binoculars, used the scope often, and asked a lot of questions too. I was able to show them almost all the birds that we sighted, and the bird scope was used well!

I started off with group, looking at the woodland birds in the plant clutter on both sides of the road. As the mist slowly lifted, we walked down the path with the lake waters along both sides. I have never before been able to walk past the "isthmus" that juts out into the water; in fact, a couple of months ago, the lake was so brimful of water that birders could not go down at all, and had to be content with birding from the bund along the Gangamma temple.

Robins, sunbirds, prinias and others were pointed out but then we got a few Baillon's Crakes


in the water hyacinth at water level, and most of us got busy clicking these usually skulky and shy birds, which will soon begin their migration.





But our "regulars"….the Spot-billed Pelicans, Little Grebes, Coots, and Herons (like this Grey Heron)


kept us all occupied as we watched them. There were Black and Brahminy Kites in the air, joined by a lone Marsh Harrier, another winter visitor which was looking for prey. Rosy Pastors


flew over the water and settled in the dry trees. We saw Barn Swallows,


as well as the Red-rumped, Wire-tailed, and Streak-throated variety.

It was nice to see both kinds of Jacanas, Pheasant-tailed



and Bronze-winged,


in the lake; similarly, Yellow, Grey and White-browed Wagtails flew around. One "dip" was the Pied Kingfisher, but we spotted the Small Blue and the White-throated Kingfishers.

Glossy Ibis


Blyth's Reed Warbler


Schoolchildren, along with the teacher, using the scope and binoculars


Our group


The children of Om Shri School


Sandpipers, too, made their appearance, flying around with their typical calls. We noted Egrets, both Intermediate and Small. Spot-billed Ducks and Garganeys flew over the water and settled down, and were quite easy to show to the children. In fact, I was wondering if the children, or the schoolmaster who accompanied them, could take so many names thrown at them at the same time! I know I would have found it difficult to remember. But their interest did not flag, and after a certain point, it was I who had to call them back to return. It is very satisfying to be able to show people a whole lot of birds on their first outing!



Water cabbage, an acquatic plant:


Line-up of many of my group:


Valli and Janhvi helped me with the app and physical paper entries, and we had to catch up with the bird names every now and then, as each of us spotted different birds! It was nice to have a problem of plenty.

Fish caught at the lake is sold on the bund every morning.


Children on the lake reaches


An array of snacks, including Manoj's mom-made alu parathas, kept us going.


Return we did, to a hearty breakfast provided by the Karnataka Forest Department (KFD).


Some of the teams whose transects were further afield did not return for a while, but all of us were very satisfied birders that morning! It sometimes happens that some paths have less birds ( on a census/bird count, it's our duty just to record what see, whether the numbers are lower or higher) but it's a great feeling when everyone returns with a satisfactory count of species. One group sighted the Eurasian Wryneck, which is a new bird-sighting for this lake.

Thanks to Valli, I met Arun and his friend, from the Andamans, and they gave us insights into the birding scene where they come from.

Our grateful thanks to Swaroop and team who provided us a great opportunity to see the variety of birds that Hoskote kere has to offer. Swaroop, Praveen and Nagabhushana say that 126 species were sighted during the morning, by over 120 volunteers! A big thank you for providing this opportunity for the 4th Sunday outing.


Fishing boats


For the next few months, we will concentrate more on the resident birds in and around our city, and bid goodbye to our winter visitors.

The eBird checklist for my group is


Swaroop will provide the links to the other checklists.

I have put up my photographs (not by a DSLR camera, and not only birds…there is even a photo of some beautiful ants!) on my FB album,


Cheers, Deepa.

Bannerghatta National Park, Monthly Bird Survey, 100318

March 13, 2018

Since I was not able to go for the inaugurual (Feb ’18) monthly bird survey, I went to participate in the March survey.

The survey is across four ranges, Anekal, Bannerghatta, Harohalli and Kodigere, and will be held on the second Saturday of every month for a year, to give a holistic picture of bird life in the Bannerghatt National Park over the annual period.

Birds of Karnataka, display board at Kalkere.

Volunteers gathering for the survey

I got the Kalkere State Forest transect, BTL (Bannerghatta Transect Line) 1. My team-mates were:

Forest Guard Michael
Albert Ranjith
Byomakesh Palai
Pervez Younus

Michael, Pervez,Byomakesh, Albert

We stopped every 10 minutes, took the GPS co-ordinates, and then moved on.


The Kalkere State Forest was much more productive in terms of birds than I thought it would be, because the city has actually spread beyond this forest patch now.


We passed some quarried rock, which gave a sad look to the landscape.


However, the good thing was that the depressions had formed rock pools:


Our trail was quite scenic, even if it was not heavy forest:


However, the scrub forest was very interesting, and we got several birds. Here are some I managed to click.

Greater or Southern Coucal, drinking water at the edge of the rock pool:


Oriental White-eye:



Green Bee-eater:


Jerdon’s Bushlark:


Black-winged Kite:


Oriental Honey Buzzard:


Indian Peafowl (this is a peacock in the glory of full breeding plumage):


Vipin was our organizer for the Bannerghatta range, and I found him very sincere and hard-working. Here he is, taking notes with a forest guard:


An excellent breakfast of iddli was provided midway through the transect:


I did not restrict myself to observing only the birds; here are some other interesting beings:


Peninsular Rock Agama:


Two unidentified but beautiful flowering plants:


This was a tiny plant growing in the path!


An un-id insect with huge eyes:


A dragonfly:


the Flame of the Forest, Butea monosperma, in full bloom:


Tired, but mentally refreshed by the morning, and the beauty of the scrub forest


I left for Mysore to take part in the Ranganathittu Bird Census the next morning.

The Flickr album of the survey is


and my FB album is


Nature Feature, Feb ’18: A wildlife art exhibition and competition, 280118 to 010218

February 2, 2018

I first met

Prasad Natarajan

in 2014, when we attended a wildlife volunteer training program together. Even then, in the beautiful environs of Kudremukh,Karnataka, I always found him with a sketchpad and a pencil in his hands.

Since then, his artwork, especially on the theme of wildlife, has become quite well known. He is not afraid of using the most difficult and unforgiving of art media, such as Indian ink (lampblack collected in a container and mixed with grease, and applied carefully to paper.) He is now an artist whose work finds homes across the world.

However, Prasad decided to step beyond displaying his own talent; in March 2017, he conceived the idea of mounting an exhibition and competion of wildlife art. In a city which has many wildlife events, including wildlife photography, this w the first such exhibition; indeed, it is probably the first such competition-cum-exhibition in the country. Artists from all over the country, and abroad, sent in their work to be exhibited. The event finally came to fruition and was held at the Venkatappa Art Gallery in Bangalore, from January 28th to February 2nd, 2018….almost a year of hard and unremitting work.

Mounting such an exhibition was not easy. Prasad first reached out to the fraternity of wildlife artists, asking if they would like to show their work. Several artists responded, and after he shortlisted the participants, sent him their pieces, which he stored in his own home, taking the utmost care of them. “The artists sent me their works in all kinds of frames and sizes,” he smiles reminiscently. “Transporting them to the gallery, and back, was one of the major logistics hurdles. We hired a mini truck for all non-glass-framed artwork, and a car for all pieces with frames. Most of the art works were taken back by the artists at the gallery, but the remaining pieces, which are from outside Bangalore, will be couriered back to the artists.”

Did he have anyone to help in all this? Prasad points gratefully to Sree Latha P., an artist whom he met at several art events. She volunteered to help, designing the brochure, and cheerfully working on the many details that cropped up. “Certainly,” he says, “Next year, I cannot increase her burden; I am going to need more volunteers to help me!”

23 artists participated, with Prasad curating the work to be displayed. In a show of solidarity, 18 of them were present at the show opening. Prasad named the event “Artists for Wildlife and Nature, Annual Wildlife Art Show” (AWN for short).

Here are the artists from Bangalore who participated:

artists group, 300118

He invited Hemlata Pradhan to judge the art and prizes were awarded as follows:

Artist of the Year Award Winner- Sweta Dilip Desai
Mammal Category Award Winner- Eric Ramanujam
Landscape Category Award Winner-Prabal Mallick
Avian Category Award Winner-Prahlad Hegde
Student Category Award Winner- Daksesh D Velu

The young students who participated were Daksesh D Velu, Neha Satish, Vidisha choudhary, Kuruganti Naga Priyanka and Gowri L Jadhav.

Here are some of the awardees:

prizewinners, Artists for Wildlife and Nature, 300118, Blr

Supporters included five-year-old artist Nisha!

nisha, 5 yrs, Art for Wildlife and Nature, 300118

The pictures displayed covered a remarkable variety of media used. A few sculptures by Eric Ramanujam were also part of the show.

Jainy Kuriakose, the Chief Guest (who is a superb photographer, and has travelled extensively to document the rarest of birds), gives away the prize to Sweta Desai:

jainy kuriakose and awardee sweta, art and wildlife for nature, 300118

Sweta, and her father, who are from Goa, as well as artists like Prahlad Hegde, wore delighted smiles at the exposure their art was getting, with over 600 people visiting the exhibition over the four days.

Prasad, having put together the show successfully, welcomed the gathering at the opening:

prasad natarajan, art and wildlife for nature, 300118

A large gathering of luminaries from both wildlife and art circles attended the event. Nearly Rs.55,000 was recorded in sales. For artists who are looking for their first commercial break, this was heartening indeed.

However, though the rates charged by Venkatappa Art Gallery are extremely reasonable, Prasad sounds a note of warning about the booking process. ” We officially booked the gallery two months before the show,”, he says. “But what I did not notice was that the dates need to be entered six months prior to the show in the gallery register. This was a pencil entry by the person in charge of the gallery. When I went to make the final arrangements, I found that the last date (2nd Feb) had been erased, and the gallery rented out to someone else.” Since even ink-entries might be erased by a whitener, it might be better to take a photo of the register entry on one’s mobile phone, and keep that as proof of the dates the gallery has been booked for.

To see images of and by the artists, and guests who visited the exhbition, you can see Prasad’s FaceBook album of the event,


Turahalli Day, 281114

December 1, 2014

For some years now, we’ve been celebrating

Turahalli Habba, or Festival, or Day

just to register the presence of those who love this patch of forest, and want to prevent any more encroachment

Here’s the

FB page

A group of us decided to do the bird walk, and here we are, at the MCS before heading out to Turahalli:


Light gathered in the sky:


I spotted this little gem on the side of the road:


tells me it is a Dodge Truck from the 40’s…

“The grille is very distinctive. Don’t know the exact model, but it sure seems similar to


he says. Indeed it seems to be the same!

We arrived a bit late, thanks to some befuddling GPS, but still got the rising sun:


At Turahalli, a lot of activities were going on.

There were rock climbers:


There were people just enjoying the peace:


Some were sharing their knowledge:


Some were collecting trash, and laughing about their “spoils”!


It was good to see far less trash than before, and even more heartening to see children collecting it, too:


There was cycling:

It was good to see adult and children’s cycles!


We opened our “birding account” on the way to Turahalli with this female



MBK pointed out this



but later the butterfly group


told us that some people were trying to poach these birds by setting the dogs on to them. I have made a complaint to the Forest Dept, and am hoping for more active surveillance.



skulked through the trees, but we were able to see it.


A delightful


greeted us:


The butterfly group got 50 species! Here’s a



I found this dead




I saw a



It was not nice, though, to see the loooong line of cars which had come for the event…but I suppose it can’t be helped!


Naturally, there is a huge block of buildings coming up right opposite, with this as the selling point:


Of course, some of us finished with a good breakfast at Adiga’s:


On the way back home, I was wondering if I could hire this silver chariot!


I’ve put up more photos on my FB album,


We hope the sun always shines on an undisturbed patch of Turahalli Forest:


Children’s Day at Bandipur, 141114

November 17, 2014

As wildlife volunteers, Kumuda, Siddharth and I went to Bandipur to help celebrate Children’s Day with about 150 children from three local schools: Hangala, Mangala, Bheemannabeedu.


I love that old Karnataka logo!

Here are the Forest Dept. officials at the event:


13 of the children spoke about wildlife and conservation, and we were very impressed. One of the Adivasi teachers also spoke with great passion.

Here’s Chandrakala, a versatile girl who both sang and spoke well:


Here are some of the children, who ran up and asked to be photographed…such delights!


Here’s everyone at the end of the event:


Here are all the Eco-Volunteers who attended:


(Deepa, Harsha, Satish, Veena, Ashritha, Kumuda, Sandeep, Siddharth)

Other sights, and thoughts:


Love can be Wild-ly Boaring….


Hanuman Langurs were everywhere:


This beautiful


delighted me:



As did this



The Peacock’s breeding plumage, and That Amazing Tail, is just starting to grow out at this season.


“Horn OK Please” is the slogan at the back of most trucks (meaning, sound your horn to overtake)…but here was a horn, sorry, antler…


This plastic sheet, excreted (probably by a Chital) was a scary reminder that the litter we leave behind could kill animals that ingest it. This animal was lucky to be able to eliminate it.

Bandipur has always been a place of Mother and Child, for me. Here are the species that I clicked this time, quite appropriately, on Children’s Day!









Just look at those two little cuties!

Human beings:

Life at the edges of the forest continues to be hard:


Our old temples fall into ruins:


But instead of maintaining them, we keep on building new ones…


Such beautiful banyan trees, shading the highway. They were planted long ago…can we keep up the practice?


Contemporary Indian architecture certainly seems to celebrate colour!


So do our buses!


(Don’t miss the usual hanging-from-the-footboard mode of travel.)

We also dropped in to see Loki (Lokesh) at JLR Bandipur, and I asked permission for Kumuda and Siddharth to see the beautiful murals in some of the rooms:



I’d written an article on the three artists who did the murals…the project was left unfinished, and the newer cottages don’t have them.

I’ve put up more photos on my FB album,


(the official part)



(the other parts!)

Speaking at the St.Louis Audubon Society Annual Dinner, 011114

November 4, 2014

I was quite thrilled to be invited to speak (with a few photographs and videos) on the topic of “My experiences with birding in St.Louis” at the St. Louis Audubon Society (SLAS)which jcompletes 100 years of existence in 2015.

You can visit their website



Mitch Leachman

the Executive Director, addressing the gathering:


Jean Ponzi


who, along with her husband, Dale, I found very impressive indeed, was the master of ceremonies. Here are Jean and Dale with Anjana:

There was a silent auction, with many goodies available.


My good friend

Danny Brown

had donated this wonderful photograph of a Belted Kingfisher:


Several people, including

Amy Witt


Forest Park Forever

did a lot of hard work to organize the evening:

Several initiatives understaken by the Society were highlighted:


Three of us were asked to be “storytellers”;

I enjoyed

Kim Litzau’s

talk on SLAS’ role in nature education:


Chris Kirmaier spoke about “Bring Conservation Home”, the initiative that Mitch started.

I was the third speaker, and I just told the story of the experience I’ve had with birding in St.Louis.


My final slide featured

Edge Wade,

an incredibly knowledgeable birder, who has also been amazingly helpful to me, and to many others. (Imagine. She’s 70, and she drove over from Columbia, Mo, about 2.5 hours’ drive, to take me birding, and gave me her old edition of the Nat Geo book on American birds, a HUGE treasure for me, and on the November bird walk I met Dane Foxwell to whom she’d given another edition, too!…. Now I am going to take either the Sibley or this book back to India with me.)


I felt very honoured to have been given this opportunity, and whenever I visit St. Louis, I will join as many SLAS outings as I can…as also the first Saturday outings that they organize with Forest Park Forever.

Heartfelt thanks to Anjana, who worked on my photographs, improved the flow of the talk, and provided dynamic tech support while I talked, synchronizing the photos to what I was saying!

Train Show, Kirkwood, MO, 171014

October 15, 2014

We’d already had a marathon Lego session in the morning:

We decided to visit tht

Train Show

(my goodness, they are already talking about 2015!)

in the afternoon.


My father collected

Tri-ang Model Railways

pieces for more than twenty years, and the collection was carefully maintained by my brother after my father’s death. We had quite a huge setup, and I must say, with the Indian dust, it was quite a pain to maintain

It was a riot of colour, scale, and detail.



My favourite was the road roller that had flattened one of the workers. Another laconic worker stands ready to scrape the single-dimension friend off the roller, and two others wait with the stretcher:


Here’s a beautiful gradient bridge


There was a tiny pumpkin chugging around in this Halloween diorama:


Thomas the Tank Engine is one of KTB’s favourites:


For all the detail, though, I looked in vain for the kind of sets my father had collected, eg, a mail train that would whip off the tiny post bags at one station and drop them off in a container on the other side.

I must say, the average age of the people who had the collections can be described thus: “When there was any hair, it was white.”

There were, however, times when some of us were less than interested:


Here’s our little paper-hat engineer:


And the other one!


Alas, the sale area was completely given up to serious scale-model fans. If they’d just had one ordinary train set, their sales would, I feel, have gone much better!

I’ve put up more photos on

my FB album, click here

Here are two videos that I took:

See the detail in the painted backdrop, and the scenery around!


Even the cars in the parking lot had appropriate number plates!



It was an enjoyable show that brought back many memories.

The HSBC Bird Race, 190114

January 27, 2014

This time, HSBC got into a lot of controversy just before the annual event, with people accusing it of “greenwashing”, covering up less than green business practices by sponsoring “green” events (though how the Bird Race is a green event, promoting the driving of cars all around the cities where the events are held, is beyond me.)

Birders “lining up” in Bannerghatta on the Bird Race day:


This year, it was not a competitive event, and there were no prizes…a move that I, for one, deeply appreciated, as it removed any incentive for “adding” bird species to sighting lists to get a higher total…or accusations of people having done so.

However, neither the controversy nor the lack of prizes dampened the enthusiasm of the birding community of Bangalore, and 33 teams registered for the day’s event.Of these, 4 were to bird in the east, 15 in the north, 14 in the south. (Obviously, the western areas of Bangalore are not considered to have birding hotspots.)

ASIAN KOEL female:


Only one team was Green..The Unventured”, comprising Gurudeep,Deepak,SarvananamdAmbika. They cycled through the day, covering about 80km before winding up at the venue of the evening gathering, where the birding community met over dinner, and exchanged notes about the day.

Red-breasted Flycatcher:


For the first time, there were two online birding apps for use by the birders to enter their data.

The creators of the MyBird app:


Funds were raised for the Bugun Welfare Society in the birding hotspot, Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary, in Arunachal Pradesh, by selling merchandise designed by Rohan Chakravarty, the wildlife cartoonist.


As usual, Swarna Venkat made an excellent emcee,


drawing out memories of the days’ birding from participants, young and old.

Manas, probably the youngest participant, at the evening event:


The Chief Guest, Ms Tara Gandhi, reminisced about her learning from the legendary Dr Salim Ali. At Dr Subramanya’s invitation, Dr Suhel Qader made a presentation about Migrant Watch and E-bird,two bird-related online initiatives.


Praveen J made a presentation about pelagic birding.


As they do every year, the organizers took on the job out of their love for this increasingly popular hobby in the city of Bangalore.

At the end of the day, the birding community remains a vibrant and active one!


Field Notes, organized by the St.Louis Beacon, 18, 19, and 201213

October 20, 2013

I decided to go to the opening event of

“Field Notes”

It was a bonfire, opposite the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts.


are the details.


I was privileged to meet

Bob Duffy founder of the St.Louis Beacon, who organized the event:


Archaeologist Dr. Timothy Pauketat gave a presentation about “A Full Moon Over Cahokia Mounds 1000 Years Ago,” explaining the relationship between the structure of Cahokia Mounds and the lunar calendar, and how it wove into Cahokia’s goddess-based religion.


Here’s Dr Tim Pauketat presenting:


Cahokia Archaeological President Larry Kinsella showed a collection of archaeological tools from Cahokia Mounds, and talked very interestingly about them, too!


We had local farmer Rusty Lee and his family demonstrate how to prepare popping corn using agricultural tools.




Larry Loveless, a St.Louis percussionist and musician, co-ordinated a drummers’ circle.

Another percussionist had brought these Scooti drums from Kenya; he’d bought them there when his son learnt to play the drums.


Here’s Scott Ragland, a percussionist who teaches at Saint Louis University, on the right:


He seems to have just had a bright idea in the photo 😀

Larry said we should all drum together, and entice the Hunter’s Moon (Sharad Poornima for us) out of her hiding place in the clouds, but she was veiled throughout:


Larry had a great collection of drums:


Being used to a culture of being very careful with one’s musical instruments, I was amazed to see him handing them around:


Larry talked to us, and we began with a small bell signalling the start of the drummers’ circle:


Along with the popcorn, we also had a great American tradition…that of toasting marshmallows:


Here’s my marshmallow. This was a first for me! They are made entirely of sugar.


I met so many interesting people…Larry’s fiancee Aimee, her mother Stephanie, and her friend Heidi…and there was more warmth than the fire was providing!


Here’s my hand, ready to drum (while the other hand takes the photo!)


When A came over to pick me up, afterwards, I introduced her to everyone, too, and we had a nice natter together before dispersing. I’m looking forward to the Guided Walk in (where else?) Forest Park, tomorrow…today was a (total) surprise birthday party that DnA threw for me…but more about that later!


On the water, St.Louis Symphony Orchestra, Art Hill, Forest Park, 140913

September 22, 2013


When water is light
When one’s thoughts gently float
On a dream of delight
Serene, upon a boat…
Under a near-full moon
That’s scudding through the clouds
Quiet upon the water: soon
Away from the shore, the crowds…