Posts Tagged ‘flowers’

A special outing, for special children. Ragihalli, 160318

March 16, 2018

Today (16th Mar, ’18), I took the children of

Snehadhara Foundation

for an outdoor/nature trip to Ragihalli. Was the trip worth it? Emphatically, yes! The children smelt some fruit, felt the texture of some leaves, got distracted by the butterflies…and took care of each other in the most heartwarming way.

The children had visited Lalbagh and Cubbon Park and wanted to go to “actual forest” as one of the more articulate children put it. Certainly, Ragihalli, in the Bannerghatta National Park, fit the bill!

We started from Snehadhara, in J P Nagar, at about 8 am,

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and though we navigated Bannerghatta Road quite well, the road deteriorated as we approached Ragihalli, and indeed, with road-laying work, the road was blocked at the village itself, about 3km short of Adavi Field Station.

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Nagesh, Dhanu, Shivanaja, and Akshath took care of us while we were there. Dhanu,

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whose father Manjunath runs the eatery in Ragihalli where we always stop for piping hot thatte iddli, is quite a keen birder himself, having Akshath as a senior in school, and being trained by him.The field station is willing to conduct bird walks in the area for those who are interested. I took the children from Pramiti School there last month, and so had no hesitation in taking the Snehadhara children there. (Though if I’d known about the road condition, I might have asked for two vans rather than a large bus.)

Our bus negotiated the drive-around with difficulty. It also happened that the area had no power since 5pm the previous day, so Nagesh, his brother Shivananja, and my other friend Akshath….all their phones were without charge, and unreachable.

However, we reached after a delay, and before Akshath took us for a walk, we had a little bit of loosening up and a game of “actions” under the large banyan tree.

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Our walk led us through the mulberry plants, and under large trees, to a rock formation where we sat peacefully,

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admiring the view over the hill ranges of the Bannerghatta National Park.

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Though humid, the cloudy weather enabled us to sit outdoors without worrying about the heat of the sun. We walked back to the field station, where the children had their lunch,

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and then slowly drove back from the scrub jungle of Ragihalli to the concrete jungle of Bangalore.

I showed some children and adults various wild flowers, put together in a tiny bouquet

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cultivated ones like this Pomegranate,

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Cotton

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plants, and some birds. The children definitely seemed to enjoy the outing. We got a few fresh mangoes,

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and I feasted on fresh, sweet tamarind from the trees. My personal delight was sighting a rare tree (Firmiana colorata,also called Coloured Sterculia, the last two photos of the album) on the way home through a route that bypassed Ragihalli (the actual village).

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Thank you to Snehadhara for providing me with this opportunity to interact with the children. Sunny temparaments like that of Aravind (always with a smile on his face, and so curious about my camera and binoculars!), and quiet personalities like Karthik’s were equally fascinating to watch. And…I found that Swetha was my neighbour! The teachers
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were so patient and loving with the children, and there was so much happiness in the air!

The cloudy weather ensured that the children did not tire, and it was a very enjoyable trip indeed.

My photos are up on my FB album

here

No…I didn’t click the birds or the butterflies…I was concentrating on the children this time!

On Monday, all going well, I will be taking the wheelchair-bound children (who could not do the Ragihalli walk) to the IIMB campus, where very different kinds of minds will meet, as IIMB kindly allows me to bring special children into an academically high-performance campus for the first time.

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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.

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Birds of Karnataka, display board at Kalkere.

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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

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Michael, Pervez,Byomakesh, Albert

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

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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.

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

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

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

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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:

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Oriental White-eye:

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Shikra:
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Green Bee-eater:

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Jerdon’s Bushlark:

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Black-winged Kite:

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Oriental Honey Buzzard:

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

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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:

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

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

Milkweed:
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Peninsular Rock Agama:

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Two unidentified but beautiful flowering plants:

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This was a tiny plant growing in the path!

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An un-id insect with huge eyes:

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A dragonfly:

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

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

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

The Flickr album of the survey is

here

and my FB album is

here

Savandurga, 081017

October 11, 2017

It was just four of us: Padma, Ramaswamy, Srini and I… who decided to go to

Savandurga

on a misty monsoon morning.

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Sign in Kannada for our destination:

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The mist in the trees…

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Which slowly cleared up:

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Our activities attracted a lot of attention!

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We did see a lot of birds…here are some.

Black Drongos

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This Ashy Prinia presented a cartoony view.

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Green Bee-eater with dragonfly catch

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Laughing Dove

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The butterflies were out in force, too!

Yellow Orange-tip

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Dark Blue Tiger

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Plain Tiger caterpillar

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Pointed Ciliate Blue

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Common Wanderer

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Dark Grass Blue

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Common Gull

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Here’s Srini, delighted with the way a butterfly trustingly climbed on to his finger (if one wipes one’s perspiration off, they are attracted to the minerals in the fluid)

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That was the Pointed Ciliate Blue again.

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Some of the insects we saw included this White-tailed Damselfly

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and this beautiful Copper Beetle (at least, that’s what I named it!)

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Wildflowers were varied and plentiful.

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Here’s a lovely Balloon Vine:

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Mexican Poppy

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Gossypium sp (Mallow)

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Waterlilies in a pond

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Even seed pods can look stunning

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Mushrooms

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Dabbaguli was one of the places we stopped at

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And just outside the town, we spotted a bonus…the Jungle Nightjar!

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Padma brought her tasty cutlets, and we feasted on them

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Later we also had some local breakfast.

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We stopped near two old temples, the Shaivite sAvaNdi veerabhadraswAmy and bhadrakAlamma temple

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and the Vaishnavite Lakshmi Narasimha temple

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Here’s narasimhA, the man-lion avatAr of Vishnu, with His consort Lakshmi, who is his laptop…

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The deities were being taken out in procession, which was a nice bonus.

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This life-like dog in a vendor’s stall nearly had me fooled.

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Part of this temple seemed lost in dreams of another time….

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Some rather risky rock-climbing was going on.

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The scenery was stunning:

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It was on the rocky outcrop in the centre that we spotted three Egyptian vultures.

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We returned home, well pleased with our morning, stopping to say “bye” to this Oriental Garden Lizard which also seemed to be having a swinging time.

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Looking forward to the next weekend outing…!

Valley Outing, 021017

October 10, 2017

Gandhiji said India lives in her villages, but today, on the anniversary of his birth, we decided that she also lives in the variety of life forms that she has!

Aishwary, Ajit, Kumar, Padma, Prem, Ramaswamy, Venkatesh and I

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tarried a little on our way to the Valley as the mist hung heavy in the air. However, by the time we signed in the register at the gate and walked along the path, the weather had cleared up a little.

Whether or not we sighted any moving creature…the sheer burst of greenery had us mesmerized! Everywhere was a clean, washed green, with diamonds sparkling wherever we looked. Raindrops stood on everything…blades of grass, tiny insects and butterflies, and on the wildflowers too.

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I always feel that one of the best times to go for a nature walk is when the rain is about to stop. The insects and butterflies come out to make the most of the sun, and the birds come out to make the most of the insects…a lot of action happens at every level, on the ground, in the air…on a small and large scale. This was what happened this morning.

Spiders lay in wait for unwary flies or butterflies;

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Neoscona Spider with her egg-case

dragonflies, visiting us from Africa,

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Globe Skimmer aka Wandering Glider….this has migrated from Africa. It takes four generations to complete the migratory cycle.

Pantala flavescens

zipped along in the air, looking for food.

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Ichneumon (Parasitoid) Wasp.

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Ladybird.

Birds breakfasted on whatever they could find, on the trees, under the leaves, and in the air.

An unusual visitor for the Valley was an Oriental Darter flying overhead, which “opened our account.” A greedy Red-whiskered Barbet,

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A Black Drongo mobbing a White-cheeked Barbet, several Green Bee-eaters,a dancing Fantail Flycatcher

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(why it’s called a Fantail Flycatcher)

a preening Spotted Dove,

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with Ashy Prinias singing,

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and a Brahminy Skink (the only reptile we saw)

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a White-browed Bulbul

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made us wait in the area before the first banyan tree for a while; but then we went further down the path. With so much to observe and enjoy, from different kinds of spiders and their webs, dragonflies, plants of all kinds, a couple of Blue-faced Malkohas(giving Prem his first sighting of these skulky birds),

How we usually see Malkohas!

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Occasionally,when they can be seen better…

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by the time we reached the abandoned house, it was past 9am! Well-rewarded, we stopped to share our snacks, and then went further to the bamboo thicket.

For the first time in many years, I saw the stream of the Valley in good force, with a lot of water gushing over the stones and along the gully in the bamboo thicket.

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The song of the Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher and a brief hello from the White-rumped Shama filled in the audio part of our outing.

By now, the butterflies were out, too, making the most of the weak sunshine to recharge themselves, or mud-puddling along the path.

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Zebra Blue

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Bush Brown

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Common Lime

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Pointed Ciliate Blue

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Common Pierrot

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Common Silverline

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Danaid Eggfly female

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Common Line Blue on Tephrosia purpurea

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The Common Crows were out in full force, and we managed to catch sight of one Double-branded one as well. Emigrant numbers were lower than in the past weeks, but a Dark Blue Tiger appeared too. It was easy to show our friends why a butterly was called the Pale Grass Blue when it had its wings open to the sunlight!

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Common Hedge Blues also flashed their bright upper wings for us instead of sitting folded up as usual. Aishwary was a great help in singing the Blues!

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Aishwary (left) helping out.

I saw the unusual sight of a Chocolate and a Lemon Pansy executing a pas de deux as they mud puddled together. Some of the butterflies were fresh and colourful specimens, some were tattered, dull survivors of battles with predators.

Other insects:

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Ichneumon (parasitoid) wasp. Look at that ovipositor! I wouldn’t like that wasp positing any ova on (or in) me!

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Robber Fly

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Stag Beetle

We noticed some beautiful plants and wildflowers

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Cassia mimoisedes

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Pseudarthria viscida

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Cyanotis sp.

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Indigofera nammularifolia:

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(what a long name for a very tiny flower)

We returned to our regular lives, much refreshed and energized by the sights and sound, the touch of different kinds of leaves, the taste of ripe Passion fruit, and the aroma of several flowers. Truly, a treat for the senses!

Beginning my morning chores, reminiscing about the wonderful outing, and already looking forward to what the next weekend may bring!

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The eBird list, compiled by Ajit, is

here

Butterflies:
Blue, Common Hedge
Blue, Pale Grass
Blue, Pointed Ciliate
Blue, Zebra
Bush Brown
Castor, Common
Cerulean, Common
Crow, Common
Crow, Double-branded
Eggfly, Danaid
Emigrant, Common
Gull, Common
Jezebel, Common
Lime, Common
Orange-tip, Plain
Orange-tip, White
Orange-tip, Yellow
Pansy, Chocolate
Pansy, Lemon
Pansy, Yellow
Pierrot, Common
Pioneer
Psyche
Rose, Common
Rose, Crimson
Silverline, Common
Skipper, Indian
Tiger, Dark Blue
Tiger, Plain
Tiger, Striped
Wanderer, Common
Yellow, Common Grass
Yellow, Spotless Grass
Yellow, Three-spot Grass

I’ve put up the photos of the birds, butterflies, insects, plants, a single reptile and us mammals,
here

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!