Posts Tagged ‘flowers’

The tinies of Turahalli, 120817

August 15, 2017

As my friend Janhvi was going to do a trek to Turahalli State Forest as part of her Corporate Social Initiative (CSI), a few of us decided to join in.

True to the lacklustre response from her company, the usual number of people (two!) turned up….and we promptly hijacked the trek into a nature outing.

Here we are, at brefus before beginning the walk:

Akash, Janhvi, Anand, Subbu, Shoba, Padma and Ramaswamy

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We started our walk from a point not known to regular visitors….and the lesser-travelled path proved to be extremely productive.

Several tiny flowers caught our eye.

Andrographis serpyllifolia:

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Commelina sp:

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Ground Orchid, Habenaria roxburghii:

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The “Argyreia cuneata” name of this flower won’t stick in my mind, but its common name, “Mahalungi” will, for the wrong reasons!

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We were lucky to find this Ceropagia candelarbrum:

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Tiny flowers of the Dodonea viscosa:

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Some of us took a break to look up things:

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Unknown:

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We were also enchanted by some of the six-footers we saw. Sometimes the insects and flowers were together.

Blister beetle (on Clerodendron flowers):

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Ants on Leucas species:

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Sarcostemma acidum:

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Crinium, or the Spider Lily:

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Stachytarpeta, the Devil’s Coach Whip:’

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Such small beauties:

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Gulaganji, or Abrus precatorius:

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The tiny flower of the Bastard Sandal:

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This Puffball mushroom had broken, showing beautifully-speckled spores:

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A tiny fly on the Sarcostemma plant:

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A Common Wanderer female:

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A Bagworm Moth pupa:

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A Hoverfly (that huge part of the head are just its two compound eyes!)

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A Plain Tiger caterpillar:

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A Geometer moth:

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A Peninsular Rock Agama coming into breeding colours:

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We did go over a few rocks:

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Eggs on the Bastard Sandal:

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A Shield or Stink Bug:

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Even the Giant Wood Spider was smaller than usual!

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The insects got tinier:

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Of course, one of the highlights of the morning was sighting not one, but two

Atlas Moths

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Very satisfied with all that we’d seen, we went home…looking forward to the next outing!

Blr-Pollachi-Anamalai-Top Slip, 100717 and part of 110717

July 20, 2017

Adnan and Sarrah, who are two of the most impressive young people, with unbounded talent only matched by their humility about those talent, invited me along on their trip to the places mentioned above, and I jumped at the offer…such great places to visit, and such great company to do the trip with!

I am choosing only a few photos from my Flickr albums of the trip, which are

1. Blr-Pollachi

here

2. Pollachi-Anamalai-Top Slip

here

3. Top Slip-Parambikulam-Top Slip (public bus route)

here

4. Top Slip-Valparai

here

5. Valparai, and my train journey back (that’s only the last 5 photos)

here

We started off from Bangalore rather late in the day, as they had to re-do their tickets to return to the US (18th August is their departure date). But though we did not take the “scenic” route, and travelled through Krishnagiri, veering away before Dharmapuri, on the Pollachi road, there was enough to keep us interested and excited all the way.

I told Sarrah I’d get her chai at one of the “copper boiler chai shops” on the way, and we stopped at Tiruppur, where Lily runs her chai shop. These copper boilers are slowly being replaced by more efficient,but less quaint, stainless steel ones.

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Lily’s mother lives with her, and she has two daughters. One is married and living in Coimbatore; the younger one works as a teacher in the school near the airport, just a few kilometres away.

Against the monsoon sky, these village guardian deities, called

Aiyanar

sit in conference…alas, the car hit a particularly bad pothole as I clicked!

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Saradha sat outside her biscuits/snacks stall, looking over her little daughter’s homework.

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We reached our hotel in Pollachi (Ratna Square, the building in the centre…the one on the left is a movie theatre called “Shanthi”, and don’t miss the amazing architecture of the bakery on the right!)

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The next morning, we had a superb brefus at Amutha Surabhi, just a few doors away,

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We stopped for a while at Aliyar on the outskirts,

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looked at the temples,

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the scenery,

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the fishes,

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the butterflies and flowers,

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the insects,

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Mating Damselflies

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and the people eking out their livelihoods

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at some cost to the environment

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We had to wait around until 9.30 am, when the Tamil Nadu Forest Dept office at Pollachi opened.

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We wanted to book accommodation at Top Slip, but could not book accommodation online, and had to wait to talk to the young lady in charge at the Forest Dept office. She did give us a lot of information, but did not even give us an acknowledgement slip; all she did was talk to the Forest Guest House in Top Slip. I do wish the booking could be streamlined…we found the morning enjoyable, but would have preferred spending it in the

Anamalai Tiger Reserve

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I’ll write about the trip through the Reserve and into Top Slip tomorrow…but will tease you with the largest butterfly in south India, which we sighted (amongst many other Interesting Things) on our drive!

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Passiflora incarnata at the Butterfly Festival, 170617

June 17, 2017

Today I volunteered for the very first Butterfly Festival in Karnataka.

You can see the photos on my Flickr album

here

But amongst other things… This purple variety of the Passion Flower somehow seems to represent, to me, the intensity of passion in life…the force that often keeps us going. I had heard the interpretation of the parts of the pistil representing the Pandavas, and the many petals, the Kauravas. Today I also heard the mythology of the flower representing the Apostles of Christ. How many meanings we invest in these beauties!

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Doresanipalya Forest Research Station, Bangalore, Karnataka, 17 Jun ’17.

Jaipurdoddi trip, 110717

June 12, 2017

What started out as a plan with 3 people rapidly developed into an outing with 15 other people! It was a very enjoyable outing to Ragihalli and then to Jaipurdoddi.Here they all are, at the MCS (Mandatory Chai Stop) where the group meet each other.

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There was not much interaction as we were driving through the reserve forests of Ragihalli and then Jaipurdoddi; but we all stopped at the Ragihalli sheet rock

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The prehistoric dolmen, or burial site, can be seen. I often feel that even if I am not buried in this beautiful spot, my spirit is likely to be wandering around here!

Since there were two very young women, Akansha and Aadya, who were coming from quite far away (they were very punctual, too!) I woke up at 4 am to make

veN pongal

for everyone.

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I served it with that most healthy of foods…potato chips! Everyone enjoyed it, to my delight.

As we drove to Jaipurdoddi, the rampant granite quarrying caught my eye once again and I hoped that our petitions to the government are fruitful in checking the depradation of our hillsides.

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Brown-capped Pygmy Woodpecker

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We stopped several times before reaching the reserve forest, and at one place, this Oriental Garden Lizard was hoping to catch some sun in the cloudy weather.

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This particular tree, alone, at Jaipurdoddi, was replesendent in new foliage.

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As the monsoon clouds cleared (we still do not have adequate rainfall), I saw this strange cloud formation…seems like a ear in the sky!

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Tiny blue Evolvulus flowers grew along the ground.

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I photographed very few birds, leaving them to the DSLR bazookas.

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Here’s the Large Cuckooshrike:

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An Oriental Honey Buzzard, surveying the territory for prey:

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An Ashy Drongo:

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A Black-rumped Flameback, amongst the bushes:

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I call these two Spotted Owlets “Asleep” and “Awake”!

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Aadya, who sketches what she observes, made this drawing of the Spotted Owlet, calling it James Bond!

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This short stretch of the reserve forest is very scenic (with, alas, a terrible road!)

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The fleecy clouds and blue skies later dissolved into cloudy grey again.

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Everywhere, Pavetta indica (Indian pavetta) bushes were in full bloom.

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Here are some Vitex negundo (Medicinal nishad) flowers:

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We wound up near the tiny lake just beyond the forest stretch, full of muddy water after the rains.

I caught some of the others standing in the shade of a beautiful Banyan.

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Several butterflies kept all of us riveted for a while, watching and trying to capture them on camera.

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Common Leopard

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Yellow Pansy:

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Tawny Coster:

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Pioneer:

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Common Lime:

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Common Emigrant:

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I’m glad there are no dogs in the forest, or else Aadya and Akansha would have to stop for every one! Here they are petting one at a farmer’s home.

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We wound up with a thatte iddli brunch at Manjunath’s Ragihalli Fine Dining.

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eBird list from Ragihalli is

here

and the list from Jaipurdoddi is

here

Butterflies

Blues, various
Cerulean, Common
Coster, Tawny
Crimson Tip
Crow, Common
Eggfly, Danaid
Emigrant, Common
Emigrant, Mottled
Jezebel, Common
Lime. Common
Orange-tip, White
Pansy, Lemon
Pansy, Yellow
Rose, Common
Rose, Crimson
Tiger, Dark Blue
Tiger, Plain
Tiger, Striped
Yellow, Spotless Grass
Yellow, Three-spot Grass

Let me leave you with a “Leopard sighting”!

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The beauty of the Baya Weavers: Shani Temple pond and Gulakmale lake, 030617

June 3, 2017

Email to the bngbirds egroup:

Hi everyone,

When Janhvi asked me if I would like to go along for the birdwatching outing of TCS, I gladly accepted…only to find that a grand total of two people comprised the group going with her! Since I’d met both Abhilash and Sushree before (and actually remembered doing so!) we set off, at the very reasonable hour of nearly 8am. Since we were going to observe the Baya Weavers nesting, we were not constrained to leave early.

Stopping for chai at Bannerghatta Circle,

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we drove through the Bannerghatta-Kaggalipura Road under blue skies and feathery, fair-weather clouds. The forest looked fresh and green, washed clean of the summer dust by the rains.

We stopped at the Shani Temple pond, just past the Bhutanahalli Reserve Forest.

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Though Google maps doesn’t even show a pond here, it’s a great place to bird in winter.

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and Baya Weavers nest in the Ficus tree next to the temple. There were nests in several stages of construction,

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and we spent a contented time watching the bright yellow males and the duller-feathered females, flying around between the reeds and the tree.

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Mating flies on Janhvi’s car.

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Since Prasanna was also coming to meet us at Gulakmale, we proceeded there, and once we took the right-hand turn to wards the lake, we took the right turn again, before Patil Parimala Industries, and met up near a temple which had several

hero stones .

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Prasanna had been there since 6.30am, and reported large numbers of Bayas on the maize fields, and nesting on the trees. But apart from seeing them, we also went up the path to the bank of the lake,

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where we spotted several waterfowl: Asian Openbills, Little Grebes, Grey and Purple Herons, Great and Little Cormorants…and several Black and Brahminy Kites soaring overhead.

The muddy bank was also a butterfly paradise, and for some time, we completely forgot the birds as we watched several butterflies (see list below) nectaring, mud-puddling, and basking in the sunshine. It was lovely to see the Blues with their wings open. How I wish I could live by drawing energy from the sun, nectar from tiny flowers, and nutrition directly from the soil! Oh well, I suppose it can’t be great to be snapped up by a passing bird! Most of the butterflies were obviously just-emerged, and with bright colours. The flow of the migrating Emigrants (at this time, aptly named!) continued across the road.

Common Crows

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Dark Blue Tiger

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Striped Tiger

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Tawny Coster

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I looked at several plants, including this Indian Sarasaparilla.

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We met up with two more people from TCS after a lot of to-ing and fro-ing as they struggled to find us in an unfamiliar place, While waiting for them at the Ashok Aarna residentiall layout, two Indian Grey Hornbills delighted us as they floated in and out.

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We then proceeded to the road alongside Gulakmale lake, where, on two date palms, we watched several more weavers, going about the business of building their homes, hoping that the ladies would approve. We walked down off the road, where we found White-rumped Munias,

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White-browed Bulbuls, and Tawny-bellied Babblers.

Between the Dharwad pedas I brought and the delicious alphonso mangoes that Janhvi brought from the organic farm she volunteers at, we had a fairly nice breakfast, and returned home well satisfied with our morning. A sighting of the common mongoose crossing the road set the seal on our happiness.

Birds:

The eBird list for the Shani Temple pond is

here

and for Gulakmale, is

here here

Looking forward to a nice Sunday as well,

Cheers, Deepa.

Blue-banded Bee, 210517

May 22, 2017

Are those enough B’s in the subject title?

As I was walking to my daughter’s home, I noticed the

Blue-banded Bee

(an Australian native that occurs in many other places, too) in my apartment garden,and the beautiful insect cause a delay of half an hour when I decided I’d try and get an image of it in flight.

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I’ve got the bee sitting, earlier:

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I tried all kinds of aperture settings and shutter speeds…but a bridge camera (Canon SX50, see the exif info) has limitations, and I ultimately gave up on the experimentation, being satisfied with what I got!

4th Sunday: Hessarghatta kere, 260317

March 27, 2017

Email to the bngbirds egroup:

Hi everyone,

I am afraid the 4th Sunday outings are not popular! Last month, apart from my group,

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(at the Mandatory Chai Stop,or MCS)

there were three people, and today, at Hessarghatta,just two people joined the group who had come from south and central Bangalore. But these two people were Prasad and Shyamal, and we
thoroughly enjoyed their company, as we all walked on the bund of the lake, and then back along the edge of the lake bed to the Durgamba temple and so back to the parking area. We were nine in all…in alphabetical order, Aravind, Guhan, Harshith,Neeti (visiting from Bikaner), Padma, Ramaswamy, Seema, Shyamal, Vidhya, and myself.

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Vidhya, Harshith, Padma, Guhan, Aravind, Seema, Nidhi, Ramaswamy, Prasad, Shyamal

A beautiful sunrise greeted us as we climbed up the steps to the temple.

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We began with the felicitious sighting of several Hume’s Whitethroats on one of Acacia trees,

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and a couple of Oriental White-eyes on another. The white gave way to other colours, as we spotted Parakeets,

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Sunbirds,

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Flowerpeckers, Blyth’s Reed and Booted Warblers,Bulbuls,

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White-browed Bulbul

and other woodland birds as we walked.

Shyamal shared some of his knowledge with us.

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He told us how the Hume’s Whitethroat is more likely to be found in Bangalore. I learnt, today, that Indian Robins often nest in the crevices of walls, and we watched one couple building their home in this fashion.

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Indian Robin female with nesting material

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Coming out of the nesting crevice

Bulbuls, Orioles, the jet black of the Jungle (er, sorry, Large-billed) Crow…we certainly did not lack for colour as we walked on.

Nor were birds the only beings of interest. The beauty of several flowers and seed pods

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Aristolochia seed pods

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Aristolochia seeds

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Ramphal(Annona reticulate)

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Solanacae sp.

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Holoptelea integrifolia, Indian Elm

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Neem flowers

along the path had Shyamal explaining to us, for example, that the Ceylon Caper flowers

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changed their colour after pollination. Seema and I tried the taste of some berries we found on a thorny bush (yes, we are both alive!), which a botanist friend, S Kassim, later identified for me as the

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Needle Bush, Azima tetracantha. It’s a medicinal plant, but it’s not the berries which are used that way.

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Needle Bush berries with seeds

There was a magnificient Rain Tree on the path

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which was in full bloom,

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as well as marsh plants like this Marsh Glory:

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We admired some of the milkweed, where seeds hung by shiny,silken threads from the seed pods. Shyamal showed us how the winged shape of several seed pods themselves allowed for dispersal by wind.

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The appearance of Ashy-crowned Skylarks, Paddyfield Pipits, an Indian Roller, several Drongos, and some perky little Silverbills

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as we walked back towards the temple, kept us interested, and at the base of the temple, several butterflies– Plain Tigers,

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Striped Tigers

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Common and Crimson Rose, many Blues…had us watching, and clicking our cameras too.

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Xanthodes moth caterpillar

Mr. Yashwanth, who is doing research on insects under the guidance of Subbu, came up and met me and helped me with the id of the beautiful Salt-and-Pepper-Moth (Utetheisa lotrix, how am I going to remember that?).

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He advised us that the raptors would come in a while to sit on
the lake bed…but we were already feeing the warmth of the sun.The very early start and the need to walk far into the centre of the lake bed to see raptors (not to mention the fact that apart from Black and Brahminy Kites, we only saw two un-id raptors) resulted in our deciding to return.

We climbed back up to the bund of the lake, and there, shared some delicious snacks…such a lot of it that it made a solid breakfast for all of us!

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Aravind baked this delicious, moist cake

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Vidhya celebrated her star birthday with kEsari bAth and stuffed sandwiches.

All that is the good part of the morning…but I cannot refrain from mentioning the other side, too. There were SUVs,

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sedans,two-wheelers, a glider-flying group,a drone-flying group

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all on the lake bed, which seems to be a very popular location now. People walking on the lake bed cannot be as bad a problem as cars driving all over it…but there seems to be no restriction on vehicle movement.

The expansion of the Durgamba temple

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also means a stall selling agarbathies, oil packets, and other snacks, resulting in a lot of plastic litter.

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It seems to be an accepted practice with any temple on the bund of a lake to throw all the litter down the embankment; I’ve found the same thing at Hennagara kere, too. Does a god or goddess not venture beyond the railings of the temple He or She resides in? Certainly, devotees seem to think so.

Since the kumbhabhishekam and the traditional re-opening of the temple after the renovation has not yet been done, the idols of every god had their faces covered up…

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I felt that not even our gods and goddesses want to look upon what we have done to Hessarghatta kere!

Oh well, one takes the bad with the good, and on the whole, it was a very enjoyable morning. It’s my usual grouse that The Experts never join us for the 3rd and 4th Sunday outings, and it was a pleasant change to have India’s biggest contributor for natural history to Wikipaedia, joining us!

The eBird list for today, put up by Harshith, is

here

My photographs are on my FB album

here

Cheers, Deepa.

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Yediyur kere, 250317

March 25, 2017

Email to the bngbirds egroup:

Hi everyone,

I am not immune to FB posts, so when there was a sudden rush of bird sightings from Yediyur kere, I realized that I’d not visited for many years. When Padma and Ramaswamy suggested going there this morning, I was very happy to join them.

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So many trees have fresh leaves right now, like this Peepal tree:

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I still wish we could have an ongoing online form for the lake census and keep adding our data whenever we visit any kere. This lake is maintained well, and the water quality seems good. However, the fact of its being completely fenced around, and having all growth stunted
to bush size except for a few spots, made it feel more “manicured” than I am comfortable with…but that’s a matter of personal choice!

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A seat that cannot be accessed!

We entered the area to a rising orchestra of White-cheeked Barbets, and the unmusical calls of Rose-ringed Parakeets as they flocked to the Akasha Mallige, Peepal and Dolichendrone trees. As we slowly started moving along the path, we were treated to the sights and sounds of several Koels; whether the bodies were black or spotted, the ruby eyes were the same.

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We were, of course, prepared for the “usual gang of suspects” after which our birding group is named; but as always, something unexpected, and something interesting, happened!

We were watching both a group of Spot-billed Ducks and some domesticated mallard-derivatives (I don’t know the correct name for these interbreeds!) when suddenly, a group of drakes decided to “advance” on a female. She sank into the water under their combined
onslaught. She managed to flap her way away from the other three, but a fourth was very persistent, and made quite a nuisance of himself. It was obvious that the lady was not willing.

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Another duck, who saw the fracas,suddenly decided to come to her friend’s aid. She flapped her wings at the drake until he released the besieged duck, and both the ladies happily swam away, at the end of a successful rescue mission! We could not help laughing even as we
watched intently.

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A Black-crowned Night Heron skulked under a Lantana bush in the middle
of the lake.

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An unexpected sighting was that of a Spotted Owlet as it flew for a short distance out of the large Ficus benjamina trees, and back in.

One Dolichendrone tree close to the entrance suddenly seemed to become a hotbed of small-bird activity.

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The seed-pods, with their typical spiralling shapes, had already set, and there were no flowers…but yet, Sunbirds, Tailorbirds, Pale-billed Flowerpeckers, a Blyth’s Reed
Warbler, and some Ashy Prinias…all kept the tree literally “hopping”, and we were able to listen to their calls, too. These are occasions when one can practice birding “by ear”, and have the id validated by what one sees.

I was rather intrigued by a brick “bird wall” that had been set up at one place:

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…and concrete “bird holes” in another “bird corner”. It will be fun to see if birds do take up nesting in these holes. But meanwhile, watching Black Kites bringing in twigs to make their homes was interesting enough! A White-throated Kingfisher added its bright blue back and lipstick mouth as it waited for a catch.

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It was fun to
watch a Boating Pond Heron…it just sat on one of the boats in the water (kept there to clean the lake, I think), as it scanned the water for breakfast!

Two groups of Rosy Pastors flying overhead, their local cousins, the Common and (the always well-groomed) Jungle Mynas,and the bisyllabic call of one Green Warbler (thank you for the call tutorials, Mike and Ulhas, they’ve been useful!)…between our eyes and ears, we didn’t
know where two hours went, and we left the place before the lake was locked up. I will never understand why our lakes and parks are kept locked through the day…what are we trying to prevent?

I did look at a lot of flowers, plants and trees as well:

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Finding out names (hoping to remember them, not always successfully!) will occupy me for a while. Watching some hornets beginning to make a nest on the underside of a leaf was also fascinating.

Well satisfied with our morning, we went off for khaali dosa at the excellent eatery (Brahmin’s Special, no relation to the Basavanagudi Brahmin’s!) near my home, arranging to meet for tomorrow’s outing to Hessarghatta Lake.

Spending time with good friends, looking at many things, under the
shade of greenery, dappled with golden morning sunlight…how lucky I
am to be able to do this!

Hoping to meet some of you tomorrow,

Cheers, Deepa.

My photos are on an FB album

here

The bird list (very respectable!) is

here

December 24, 2016

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Here’s the stunning-looking

Torch Ginger

which, in the gathering dusk of a winter evening, certainly lived up to its name.

The scientific name of this plant is Etlingera elatior, which, frankly, I am never going to remember, so I’m putting it down here. This is a star attraction on the campus of

Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore

where I’d gone to conduct a birding/nature “walk-talk” for the faculty and their families.

The showy pink flowers are used in decorative arrangements, but the plant is also used in several cuisines. In North Sumatra (especially in Karo tribe), the flower buds are used for a stewed fish is called Arsik ikan mas (Andaliman/Szechuan pepper-spiced carp). In Bali, people use the white part of the bottom trunk for cooking a chilli sauce called “Sambal Bongkot”, and use the flower buds to make a chilli sauce called “Sambal Kecicang”. In Thailand, it is eaten in a kind of Thai salad preparation.

The plant, says the wiki entry, has the highest antioxidant and antibacterial properties amongst the five species of Etlingera.

Well, I didn’t feel the need to eat this beautiful flower…I was content to photograph it and capture its beauty.

The road, the river, the birds, the beings…Galibore trip,221114

December 3, 2014

The road…

It unites so many lives.

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People drive on it

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Some just walk on it

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Some lead their animals on it..

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Sometimes buildings, especially temples, are built right on it..

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Eateries survive near it:

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Several creatures thrive near it:

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My friends discuss their photographs, standing on it:

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There are havens at the end of the road:

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On an urban road is the statue of a bird-lover:

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The River.

The Kaveri is beautiful…

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The birds:

Rose-ringed Parakeet at nest:

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Rosy Starlings and Common Mynas:

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Pied Bushchat:

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Grey Heron:

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Spot-billed Pelican:

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Spot-billed Duck:

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Fish in the water:

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Paddyfield Pipit:

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Painted Stork:

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Short-toed Snake Eagle:

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Red-wattled Lapwing:

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White-throated Kingfisher:

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Oriental Honey Buzzard:

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Plants:

Leo otis, or Lion’s Ear:

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Gall on the leaves:

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A beautiful wildflower:

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the Shankha Pushpi (Shell flower)

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A jewel bug:

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Grass Yellows mud-puddling:

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A tiny, perfect grasshopper:

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A dragonfly:

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If you want to suffer even more photos, see my FB album

here

Let me close with this view of the Kaveri:

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