Posts Tagged ‘flowers’

Ravugodlu: 4thSunday Bngbirds outing, 240219

February 26, 2019

We were 22 of us meeting up at the shrine at Ravugodlu,

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as the sun rose behind the hillocks of the beautiful scrub jungle. It is getting more and more difficult to find forest patches which are not walled off and where prior permission (often not given) is required. I do envy the birders and naturalists who could range freely over so many areas in the 60’s and 70’s! The population pressure is telling on the patches we have left, and I cannot blame the Karnataka Forest Department for being very wary of visitors, but definitely for students, research scholars and low-budget enthusiasts like me, the wilderness is increasingly either out of reach or inaccessible.

We started the walk with a kind of Coppersmith Barbet convocation, as large numbers of them flew in and settled on the tops of the trees nearby.

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So it was a while before we could move on. Already, before I arrived, the others had seen quite a few Indian Grey Hornbills flying past, and this continued on our walk.

Even when we were not sighting birds, the beauty of the rocky area and the path was delightful. We had been warned by a local farmer about the leopardess in the area (we had seen her pugmarks on the last 4th Sunday outing in July ’18) which had given birth to two cubs, but we saw no sign of her this time. Other footprints were there, though…the peafowl, and some other tracks which Mayur tried to identify.

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As we went on, we sighted birds like the Sunbirds, Flowerpeckers and other woodland inhabitants. The Bulbuls called, as did Tailorbirds…the calls of the Warblers, our winter visitors, were harder to identify. Even the call of the Drongos sounded very different when they imitated other birds! I explained to some of the others about “birding by ear”.

One of the highlights of the walk was the sighting of a Yellow-throated Bulbul, clearly if not sharply, caught on camera by one of the group. Later, Tej was certain that he’d sighted a Black-crested Bulbul, but since none of us had seen it with him, I decided to leave that out of the bird list. My apologies to Tej for caving in on this one! Another interesting sighting was that of the rarely-seen Marshall’s Iora.

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The white in the tail that marks the Marshall’s Iora

At the pond, which still has a good amount of water, we sighted some of the waterfowl…a Little Cormorant, a Common Sandpiper, and both the Common

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as well as the White-throated Kingfisher, looking for their breakfasts. Several birds, such as Swallows, flying overhead, were also noted.

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Large Cuckooshrike

Several unusual trees and plants also caught our attention, and I must thank Subbu for pointing out some of them when I was chatting to the others about the birds. Wildlfowers are stunningly beautiful!

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Now you know why they are called Bottle Gourds!

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Cochlospermum religiosum, Buttercup tree

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Indian elm (Holoptelia integrifolia)

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The inverted parachutes of Aristolochia indica, Eshwaramooli,or Indian Birthwort; critical for the Southern Birdwing butterfly

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Gmelina asiatica,Asian Bushbeech

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A Pond Terrapin that we spotted

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Crimson Tip

We stopped at the end of the trail for our variety of snacks, and both Vidhya’s “mangai thengai pattani sundal” and the masala buttermilk I brought, went down well with an assortment of biscuits and crunchy snacks. Why can’t all the vitamins be in the tasty nachos, I wonder!

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The only child in the group, Sanchana,

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proved to be very curious about everything she saw..and she quizzed me a lot, too! I am not sure if I answered her questions to her satisfaction…but it was very nice indeed to spend time with her. I do wish more parents would bring their children along, though I know the early start is a bit tough…our wildernesses are fast disappearing into residential layouts!

We dispersed at the end of the walk with some of us stopping at the Davangere Benne Dose eatery and others at Thavaru Mane (Mother’s home)Thindi,

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and went home with our hearts…and tummies…full, to face whatever the week ahead would bring.

The eBird list, compiled by Vidhya, is at

https://ebird.org/india/view/checklist/S53078827

Butterflies:

Blue, Pea
Blue, Tiny Grass
Cerulean, Common
Crimson-Tip
Emigrant, Common
Jezebel, Common
Leopard,Common
Orange-tip, White
Rose, Common
Rose, Crimson
Tiger, Blue
Tiger, Plain
Tiger, Striped
Yellow, Common Grass
Yellow, Three-spot Grass

Mammals:

A quick video of the participants , with each one announcing his/her name, is at


I have put up my photos on my FB album

here

and on a Flickr album,

here

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Monet-esque waterlilies in the pond

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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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Asian Waterfowl Census, Hoskote kere, 130119

January 15, 2019

It’s always a tug-of-war on the second Sunday of every month. I have learnt a lot on the Lalbagh walks, but since I am generally committed to the 3rd and 4th Sunday walks, I do like to go to other birding spots with my friends. Well, on the 13th of January, the tug was decided by the fact that the Asian Waterfowl Census, or AWC ) is on, and we could contribute data and pretend to be very scientific, while following the experts around and getting to see a lot of birds! So off we went to Hoskote kere, after MCS (Mandatory Chai Stop) on the way.

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MCS, ITI Bus Stop. Note Vidhya’s gloves!

The group was not as large as I’d expected, but this lack of numbers was more than made up for, by the number of species sighted! I am not one for numbers, but definitely, between waterfowl, winter migrants, and woodland birds, we were able to sight, and observe the behaviour of, several species of birds.

We carefully turned into the toll-avoiding opening and proceeded down the bund of the lake. We opened our account with a White-throated Kingfisher and a Common Hawk-cuckoo sitting on the wire, out in the open.

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The fog had lifted by the time we got to the temple, and the first pale rays of sunshine showed several Spot-billed Pelicans,

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Painted Storks,

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Cormorants and Grebes on the waters.

There were two scopes on hand, and this certainly helped many of my friends, who are still new to birding, to do some Spotting of their own, apart from the bills of the pelicans and the ducks! A Pied Kingfisher hovered over the water and dove in now and then, looking for a quick breakfast.

The “spotting” extended to the far side, the scope enabled us to look at a Greater Spotted Eagle, as well as three Marsh Harriers. perched on the bare trees, and occasionally sweeping over the water, alarming all the other birds. It was delightful to see a Common Kingfisher and a Wagtail apparently enjoying a boat ride. We don’t often see birds boating!

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On the far side, thanks to the scope, the indistinct blobs resolved themselves into Garganeys, Shovellers, and Pintails too.

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Capparis flowers (Caper)

We walked down to the path into the lake from the Gangamma temple,

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Gangamma, the deity at the lake.

and Grey and Purple Herons, pods of pelicans fishing, Yellow Wagtails

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living up to their name with their bobbing tails, two Wood Sandpipers having a face-off (territory? food? We didn’t know),

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some Common Sandpipers flying with their white rumps showing. A Glossy Ibis gleamed in coppery sheen in the now strong morning sunlight,

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and we were able to make out the difference between Streak-throated, Barn, and Red-rumped Swallows in a birding id practical lesson.

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Streak-throated (L) and Barn (R) Swallows.

A Sand Martin (Common, Krishna Murthy told us) also put in an appearance. Another good comaprison study was of the three Egrets…
Little, Intermediate, and Great…It was like watching the Grimmskipp page come alive! It was lovely to see the Swallows making musical scores on the wire. I believe someone did, once, set the swallows-on-the-wire to music!

We brought out our snacks and biscuits, and stoked up enough calories to let us carry on well past the usual breakfast hour.

We then walked back up the road, doing the other part of the lake adjoining the path, and were rewarded by the sight of both the Grey-bellied Cuckoo

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and the hepatic morph, which is generally female.

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I looked at a non-singing Jerdon’s Bushlark, and a Common Hoopoe (no longer common, either) A (probable) Booted Eagle gave us a fly-past finale.

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Bee covered with pollen, on Ipomoea flowers

Not having realized just how much time had gone by, we decided to go to Sendhoor Cafe in Ulsoor, and our greed was rewarded by the fact that it was noon when we reached there, and everything was sold out! We should just have eaten at one of the two darshinis at the lake! Well, we managed to eat at the Second Choice Darshini (Kadamba, opposite Frank Anthony School) and went home, very happy with our productive morning.

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Utsava murthy of Gangamma.

The eBird list, a very impressive one, put up kindly by Praveen, is at

https://ebird.org/india/view/checklist/S51618715

I’ve put up photos on an FB album at

https://www.facebook.com/deemopahan/media_set?set=a.10156336753578878&type=3

And on a Flickr album at

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You can see I really concentrated on the bird count this time as there are just a couple of wildflowers and one spider in the album..and no butterflies at all!

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Most of the participants, at the end of the census.

It’s Monday and I am already looking forward to the next weekend!

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
99800 10366

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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Accuracy in journalism today

November 14, 2018

Journalism today is exemplified by the following apology:

“Yesterday, in an article, we stated that Mr. X is a defective in the police force. We sincerely apologize. Mr. X is a detective in the police farce.”

What brought this on? A photo of mine in the Hindu has been credited to Deepa Menon!

here

is the link to the article by Marianne de Nazareth, who has used my photo of the beautiful Sesbania grandiflora flower…

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More walks…

October 30, 2018

My walk to Ranga Shankara, in terms of smells.
The ground coffee from the darshini.
The heady aroma of the Akasha Mallige.
Frying onions from an unknown source.
Agarbathi or dhoop fragrance from a nearby window.
A waft of strong perfume from a lady whizzing by on the back of a scooter.
Punctuating all these, and vitiating them, the stench of accumulations of garbage.
My city is a nasal smorgasbord.

This morning’s walk from my daughter’s to my home, in terms of fruits…
The ubiquitous bananas everywhere, punctuated by guavas and pomegranates on both carts and small trees, the not-usual-at-this-time grapes, a small pomelo tree,bael fruit hanging from a tree in someone’s garden, papayas on a tree in an empty lot, lemons hanging over the footpath. The seed pods of honge, sampige swaying in the breeze. And let me not forget the coconuts in the front garden of a house which, instead of a name, bears the inscription, “Beware of falling coconuts.”

My walk home from my daughter’s, in terms of sounds: the burbling, liquid sound of the Red-whiskered Bulbul and a couple of Tailorbirds, then the harsh cawing of crows. The rasping of two coconut brooms that a pourakramika uses to clean leaf litter and trash. The clank of the bucket and mug, that maid wields to wash the pavement in the front of the house.The echoing call of “soppu!” from a pushcart vendor. Cars, two-wheelers and the whine of autos as I cross the main road. Snatches of conversation as I pass people, some of it very intriguing. The monsoon wind soughing through the branches of a large Gulmohar tree. The Venkatesha Suprabhatam from the phone of one walker who has apparently not heard of earphones. The “ha-ha-ha” of the Laughter Club. The honking horns of impatient motorists rushing to work. Mukesh’s “chal ri sajni” from an open window. A program on Ambabai, on Amurthavarshini channel, in my own ears. My own footsteps as I climb the four floors, and the key in my front door…

July 8:

Today’s walk home, from my daughter’s, in terms of flowers:
The dragonfruit flower, also called Brahmakamalam locally, budding in many flowerpots.
Copper pod flowers finishing up their bursts of yellow.
Violin-leaf Plumeria smiling from veritcal-looking plants.
Cape Jasmine flowers starring the ground.
A lady picking up Coral Jasmine flowers from the granite slabs in front of her home, to add to the hibiscus in her basket.
Manoranjitham flowering too high for me to try smelling it.
Carts with marigold garlands, and button roses.
Several colours of bougainvillea, and here and there, jasmine flowers nodding their heads in the morning breeze.
This is not the season of purple (Jacaranda) ,red (Gulmohar) or yellow (Copper pod) carpets, but I still enjoy the flowers as I walk!
The most beautiful flowers, ofkose, were the two I put on the school bus before starting to walk home.

May 14

This morning’s walk to my daughter’s home. The fragrance of “sampige” (champa, shenbagam, Michela champaca, call it what you will) flowers wafting down from the trees. Women with their sarees hiked up past their ankles which have silver anklets, dotting the wet ground preparatory to making the rangolis. Little tea stalls doing brisk business. Newspapers being thrown into gardens. A conversation I do not hear, but only the word “thEvadiyA” (whore) repeated, loudly, and with great emphasis, by an elderly woman to the man in front of her. (What a beginning to her morning, I think.) A cat walking nonchalantly across the broken glass on a wall. Pourakramikas collecting and emptying trash, keeping our city livable. A new vegetable shop, advertising “holsel rate”. The pushcarts, selling various things, moving the small-business economy of the city. I walk through my world, feeling lucky and happy.

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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Weeds? 131018

October 13, 2018

If I have a garden, it will be full of weeds;

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Plants that thrive on neglect, and spring forth fast from seeds.

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I do not have the patience that a delicate garden needs…

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So my weed garden would grow and thrive with no gardening deeds!

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All these are wild flowers, from “weeds” that grew along the path as I walked at Hulimavu Lake today. They seem very beautiful to me!

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

Jewels of nature

August 30, 2018

I don’t find it necessary to go to jewellery shops, as Nature provides me plenty of jewels! All the photographs below are from local gardens in Bangalore.

Do I want pearls for a necklace? Here are the pearls of the Sterculia foetida, locally called the Jungli Badam:

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The monsoon season, or even a dewy morning, provides so many diamonds. Here are hundreds,sprinkled over a spider web:

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One of the bugs we see often is, indeed, called the Jewel Bug. It appears in rainbow glory, with a metallic sheen, on top of our most common plants and weeds:

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And when the bug decides to moult, it sheds that beautiful outer shell, and emerges, looking bright orange like a coral:

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Then there is the gold of the Copper Pod tree, scattered over the footpaths and roads of our city:

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Did you say rubies? Of course, of course! These are provided by the Bastard Sandal, a plant that gets its name from the fact that its wood is often used instead of real sandalwood; but it has excellent medicinal properties, too:

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If I want my rubies with a touch of black, I get the seeds of the Crab’s Eye creeper, locally called Gulaganji:

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The Grass Jewel is a butterfly that is well named. It is the smallest butterfly in India, and it’s as exciting to see one as it is to find a jewel!

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All of these jewels come to us with the energy produced by that great jewel of fire in the sky….

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So, keep an eye out for the many treasures, gems and jewels that we can observe in the natural world, as we walk along!