Posts Tagged ‘information’

The Red-breasted Flycatcher, Nandi Hills, 241214

December 24, 2014

This morning, I went with Savithri Singh, her son Kartik and his friend Karuna, Brinda, and Sharmila, to Nandi Hills.

Though it certainly didn’t rain birds, we saw enough to keep us quite happy, and one of the highlights of the outing was the

RED-THROATED FLYCATCHER

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that flew about, delighting us.

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I wanted to find the difference between the Red-breasted and the Red-throated Flycatcher, and I read that the Red-breasted Flycatcher is Ficedula parva ,” is a small passerine bird in the Old World flycatcher family. It breeds in eastern Europe and across central Asia and is migratory, wintering in south Asia:…. and “the Asian species, Ficedula albicilla, previously considered a subspecies of the red-breasted flycatcher, has the red throat surrounded by grey and a different song. It is usually now separated as the Taiga flycatcher.”

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Why Taiga? Because…this bird goes to breed in Poland! However, one disturbing fact is that
“Studies on their spring arrivals to the breeding quarters in Poland from 1973–2002 show that males are returning earlier with increasing temperatures.”

They are found mainly deciduous woodlands, especially near water. They build an open nest in a tree hole or similar recess. 4–7 eggs are laid.

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The

Wiki entry

about the Taiga Flycatcher has this to say:

“In winter they are mostly silent but have a typical chip-chip-chr-rrr flycatcher call. In their breeding season, the song consists of melodious whistles, like that of the European pied flycatcher.”

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For other photos from the outing, click on my FB album

here .

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Birding and bubble algae, 210714

July 24, 2014

I took this pic of a Northern Shoveller in a pond:

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And of two thorougly “ducking” into their food:

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I was very intrigued by those algae bubbles, which added quite a surreal touch to the photograph. So I googled, and ofkose, there was quite a lot of info…

here

I realized that algae bubbles seem to be classified as “pests” for reef tank enthusiasts.

“When we hear of ‘bubble algae’, one reflex is to think of the infamous “Valonia ventricosa”, without even considering the many other algae that form bubble-like structures. Premature judgment can be regrettable, but there is this added twist: the much-cited ‘Valonia’ of our nightmares is no longer Valonia, but, thanks to Olsen & West (1988) now has its own Genus, Ventricaria. ”

Suggestions were given for controlling the algae:

“e can try to manually reduce said presence to provide relief, and include in the affected tank a set of agencies that exert pressure against the problem alga. Since availability of usable nutrients fuels the alga’s aggressive growth and reproduction, we attempt to restrict such availability. That is pretty much the standard threefold approach to most algal outbreaks:

1. Manual removal of the problem alga
2. Suppression via appropriate herbivores
3. Denial of resources

Normally, there would be a fourth aspect, of fiddling with temperature, pH, or some other physical-environmental parameter to suppress the problem alga. However, the environmental tolerances of most bubble algae exceed those of most ornamentals put into reef tanks.”

I can’t find much about naturally-occurring bubble algae, though, I get only reefkeeping fora!

Therefore, I decided that for this particular (public) pond, near the Campushallen (University) where I photographed the ducks, algae bubbles, far from being a “problem”, actually food for the birds.

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So…I don’t care about the unhappy reef tank lovers, I am very happy indeed that the Northern Shovellers were happily feeding on these bubbles and enjoying themselves!

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Ducklings, water and green bubbles…is there anything else required for sheer enjoyment of the childish kind?

Interesting sculpture…and roundabout dogs….more questions! Linkoping, Sweden, 230614

June 27, 2014

As I came by bus into Linkoping, I caught sight of this very large hoop adorning one of the roundabouts:

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I caught sight of a statue (life-size) of a dog, placed looking askance at the hoop, as if to ask, “What should I do?” only when the bus sped past.

But a few days later, when PC and I walked down to Biltema and the IKEA shop, I was able to get a much better picture of this dog-and-hoop, and here it is:

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You can clearly see the dog looking at the beautifully-balanced hoop!

Trying to get more information about this sculpture, I googled the following words: “roundabout dog sculpture linkoping sweden”…and got

this very interesting link

about roundabout dogs!

“A roundabout dog (Swedish: rondellhund, originally Östgötsk rondellhund, “Östergötland roundabout dog”, a pun on västgötaspets) is a form of street inThe roundabout dogs started appearing in Linköping, Östergötland, Sweden (and were therefore originally called: de östgötska rondellhundarna), after a sculptured dog that was part of the official roundabout installation Cirkulation II (English: Circulation II) by sculptor Stina Opitz had been vandalised and later removed. The original dog had been made of concrete, and Stina Opitz was planning to make a new version of it after the vandalism, when someone placed a homemade wooden dog on the roundabout. The dog was given a concrete dogbone by another anonymous artist. Soon after the media reported these developments, roundabout dogs started appearing in various places around the country.

Peter Nyberg (maker of the first ‘Rondellhund’) of Linköping told tabloid Expressen that his dogs were intended to “mock the state-employed artists, who get so much money to make sculptures that we can do just as well ourselves”. In some smaller towns where there were no roundabouts, dog sculptures were placed in ordinary intersections with traffic islands.

The Swedish artist Lars Vilks made a drawing depicting the Islamic prophet Muhammad as a roundabout dog. This was published in a Swedish local newspaper in July 2007. It provoked accusations of blasphemy from some Muslim groups in the Middle East. (See Lars Vilks Muhammad drawings controversy.) The 2010 Stockholm bombings are considered to be sparked partially because of the cartoon.”

That was certainly something to make me think…. I read on:

“In April 2007 Bjorn Andersson started building roundabout dogs in his workshop south of Stockholm. His mission is to keep rondellhund at Philanthropic Street Art level and to give a moment of enjoyment to all people traveling by car. His dogs have traveled the world to places in the USA, in Australia and in the UK.”

How surprising! The wiki goes on further to say:

“In 2009, similar dogs started appearing on some of the roundabouts in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshirestallation, that began occurring in Sweden during the autumn of 2006, and continued for the rest of the year with sporadic occurrences since then. The phenomenon consists of anonymous people placing homemade dog sculptures, typically made of wood (or sometimes plastic, metal or textile) in roundabouts (traffic circles). Occurrences were reported all over Sweden, and the phenomenon also spread to other countries, such as Spain after it was mentioned on Spanish television (PuntoDos). Swedish tabloid paper Expressen even placed one at Piccadilly Circus.”

The dog I’ve photographed is not a wooden dog in this sense, and now I am unable to understand if the hoop was placed there first and the dog “added” as part of the “roundabout dog” theme, or whether they do belong together.

So…in the process of finding out more information on the net, I seem to have opened up more of an enigma! I wish there was someone in Linkoping whom I could ask..I’m afraid the language (and the fact of most sites being in Swedish and not translating too well) IS proving a barrier to learning a lot about what I am seeing around me.

A giant of a palm tree! Kanakapura “Pipe” Road, 280114

March 10, 2014

On the way to Sundaghatta, I suddenly was struck by a truly majestic, dead tree!

This was, I learnt from Arun Kumar,

Corypha umbraculifera, the TALIPOT PALM

which is a species of palm native to eastern and southern India (Malabar Coast) and Sri Lanka.

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It is one of the largest palms in the world; individual specimens have reached heights of up to 25 m (82 ft) with stems up to 1.3 m (4.25 ft) in diameter.[1]
You can see its height above the coconut palm trees:

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It is a fan palm (Arecaceae tribe Corypheae), with large, palmate leaves up to 5 m (16 ft) in diameter, with a petiole up to 4 m (13 ft), and up to 130 leaflets.

The talipot palm bears the largest inflorescence of any plant, 6-8 m (20-26 ft) long, consisting of one to several million small flowers borne on a branched stalk that forms at the top of the trunk (the titan arum, Amorphophallus titanum, from the family Araceae, has the largest unbranched inflorescence, and the species Rafflesia arnoldii has the world’s largest single flower).

The talipot palm is monocarpic, flowering only once, when it is 30 to 80 years old. It takes about a year for the fruit to mature, producing thousands of round, yellow-green fruit 3-4 cm (1.2-1.6 in) in diameter, each containing a single seed.

The plant dies after fruiting.

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The talipot palm is cultivated throughout Southeast Asia, north to southern China. Historically, the leaves were written upon in various Southeast Asian cultures using an iron stylus to create palm leaf manuscripts. This must have been the original “olai chuvadu”!

The tree is known as kudapana in Malayalam Language, which means “umbrella” palm tree. On the Malabar Coast, the palm leaves were used to make traditional umbrellas for agricultural workers and students in rural areas until a few decades ago.

What a wonderful amount of information from one stray look at a huge dead tree!

My contribution to Missouri Birds

November 18, 2013

Here’s an email from Edge Wade of Missouri Birds:

Hi Deepa,

I’ve delayed writing you, waiting until your Forest Park Birders’ Guide appears online. It is now on the ASM site

here

and will appear in the December Bluebird. Thank you for this, and for your contributions to Missouri birding.

Cheers,

Edge Wade

************

Feeling very happy!

Funnel-web Spiders

October 12, 2013

A glance at a bush can sometimes take one world-wide.

FUNNEL-WEB SPIDERS

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I looked at the wide-flung webs on the various bushes, and thought back to all the similar spiders I’ve seen in India, too.

here

is one of my posts about Indian Funnel-web Spiders (we also call them Wolf Spiders).

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I decided to read up a little about them, and found out that they are of the family Agelenidae, and there could be more than 1,200 species in 68 genera, worldwide. They seem to occur in every continent except the Poles.

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These spiders’ social structure is sufficiently evolved, the Wiki says, to include “communal web-building and sharing; cooperative prey capture and communal rearing of young. Spiders have not, however, taken the final step into the eusociality of the social Hymenoptera (ants, bees and wasps) because there are no workers or soldiers (no castes) and all females are reproductive.”

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I’ve seen this kind of social behaviours in Social Spiders, and documented it in my posts

here

But did not know that Funnel-web Spiders, too, exhibit the same kind of one-for-all-and-all-for-one behaviour.

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Another amazing fact that I learnt was that these spiders are incredibly fast; “with speeds clocked at 1.73 ft/s (0.53 m/s), the Giant house spider held the Guinness Book of World Records for top spider speed until 1987,” says the Wiki!

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A creature that does, indeed, have a www….World-Wide Web, occurring everywhere…and which is so interesting….that’s the Funnel-web Spider, for you!

The Mind Reader

January 17, 2013

I think everyone who uses the internet must watch this:

Every single person should see this…

January 16, 2013

Sharing…not sharing…

May 22, 2012

On a lighter note (we saw this bird) and hence this question popped up.
Did you some one you asked did not disclose this location ?

In other words, was I sour-graping because I was not being told the location of this (or any othe recently discovered) bird?

My response to him:

Ha, ha, Vinaya, I know better than to ask for the location! Have I asked you? (I know you saw it.) No, it’s not a case of sour grapes…in fact, the reverse, as I have given the location of various birds to many expert birders, after discovering them by sheer accident (eg . Indian Eagle Owl at Ramnagara or Turahalli.) I can confidently say, go look in Valley School, you will find the Indian Eagle Owl. This does not guarantee that the person will see it!

I am a well-known “L-birder”….I have neither the knowledge nor the scientific background to quality. 🙂 Neither will I ask where the Pratincole, or the Emu, or the Mute Swan, the Roc, or the Phoenix, are to be found. Most birds will, for me, be found only within the covers of my Grimmskipp , Salam Salim, Pam Aunty, or Kashmirjack. You think I will go on a ship-without-a-toilet to see pelagic birds? The answer is, Gua—no!

We’ve already had the hilarious situation, in Lalbagh, of a totally non-bird interested jogger coming up and telling us, “Some crows are harassing some bird which I don’t know, can you help?” It proved to be the Mottled Wood Owl. No humans (birders or non-birders) were troubling it…but it was the ever-present mobsters, the crows.The Mottled Wood Owls, in spite of the Lalbagh crowds, have been at their location off and on over the years.

My birding friends here in St.Louis, Mark Glenshaw, Chris Ferree, Mary Dueren (Audubon Society) and Danny Brown (Wildlife photographer and conservation scientist) , freely share the location of birds and animals in Forest Park, with me. That doesn’t mean that I can see them all the time! In fact, in the heights and the thick foliage of the Cottonwood trees, even when Mark is showing me where the huge female Great Horned Owl is sitting…it takes me several minutes to spot her. It took me a week of scouting the right area before I saw the mink family, and the little baby mink came up to my feet and looked up at me!

Oh well…there are valid things about both points of view (share and don’t share) and ne’er the twain shall meet…unfortunately, birding is becoming a “I-know-so-and-so-who-will-tell-me-where-x-bird-is-to-be-found” kind of activity. This is why I like my UGS (Usual Gang of Suspects)…we are a happy-go-lucky lot who are as thrilled to see an Agama in front of the Udupi Banashree Darshini as we are to see a Crested Hawk Eagle at Nandi Hills! We don’t want the secret birds……where the ordinary birds are, is secret enough for us most of the time!

Cheers, Deepa.

Information..sharing it and withholding it…

August 2, 2011

On a birding/wildlife egroup that I belong to, someone had asked where the Mottled Wood Owl could be seen in Bangalore, and several people had replied, saying that they can be seen in Lalbagh. To this, there have been several responses of protests, saying that if locations are shared, harm may result to the birds/wildlife. The latest email, expressing this point of view, goes:

“I believe birders or otherwise.. we are not very aware of the impact our very presence has on many species, especially at nesting sites. Many other species including crows, dogs, monkeys, (and other humans of course), are immediately attracted to human activities. A human being, or two human beings, turning towards and looking at a bush or tree-hole with great interest (even from a short distance with binoculars/camera) makes an impossible-to-ignore subject of curiosity for all others observing that scene. Even if the owl had managed to roost/nest in secrecy until then…birders, camera people, conservationists or anyone observed around the discovered spot; are observed by many other eyes all around. Unless we are absolutely sure our interest will not/has not/can not impact the success of that particular nesting in any way, we should refrain from even wanting to know where it is.”

Here is my response…I suppose I will never learn to keep my mouth diplomatically shut. 😦

Though I can understand the point of view of those who have voiced their concern….. by the logic that’s been put forth, all field research should be abandoned, and wildlife tourism should be stopped. Can this really be feasible? Is wildlife only meant for the “experts”…and how can anyone become an expert without repeated observation and documentation? How can some of us decide that others should not see what we have seen and experienced and enjoyed?

When hundreds of people walk through Lalbagh every day, of course some people are going to see the Mottled Wood Owls. By suppressing the information of their location, what can we achieve? The piquant situation of keen birders not sighting them, and non-birders seeing them (and possibly scaring them too) by sheer chance!

Suppressing information is not the solution to the woes our wildlife faces , I feel. We should share information and also shoulder the responsibility of both protecting it, and passing on to others the ethical way of observing wildlife. It is by proper observation, research and field work, that we can evolve ways of protecting our fellow-beings on earth.

“Refraining from even wanting to know where it is” is not a tenable situation…it’s only possible if one wishes to be totally ignorant. When we visit a wildlife sanctuary, do we really not want to see any wildlife at all? Do we not want to visit any wildlife sanctuaries, or even look up into the trees to see the birds?

I do respect the point of view that worries that sharing information may result in harm, but I am unable to agree that therefore, no information should be shared. All that happens is that the information “goes underground”…one person whispers it to another…and an elitist group of people, who know the locations of various creatures, will not share that information with others who were not fortunate enough to be included in that group. This kind of hiding information also breeds corruption as people try to bribe those who can show them such locations. Anything that is a secret leaks out ultimately, but in the process, I feel, more harm is done than by sharing the information honestly, with caveats as to how the wildlife should be viewed.

Opacity is never a solution. And ignorance is not innocence.

Tried my best to preserve a diplomatic (and politicially savvy) silence…but I feel that by speaking of my point of view (which I am sure many others share, and many others dispute) will result in an honest debate, without brushing everything under the carpet.