Posts Tagged ‘insects’

Begur Lake, a triumph of rejuvenation! 060620

June 8, 2020

The last couple of occasions I had visited Begur Lake, it was under renovation, and we were a little concerned about how the job would be carried out.

Well, on Saturday the 6th, a few of us

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decided to visit the lake, as Dhanapal has been getting such excellent images from there; and we were very happy that we did; the birds (and other living beings) are back at, and in, the lake.

The onset of the monsoon meant that we walked on to the lake bund. Following Dhanapal’s directions, we walked along the eastern bund instead of the western one near which the Panchalingeswara temple stands. We found several stands of reeds and almost immediately, our attention was riveted by the variety of birds that we found. Coots, Grebes, Egrets (all sizes), Herons (both the common colours of grey and purple) all went about their business of securing breakfast in their different ways, ducking in the water, or wading along the shoreline.

In a while, we could discern even more activity in the reeds. Streaked Weavers were building their nests, carrying long reed-leaves to one stand and expertly weaving them in;

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In this connection, I would like to add two excellent videos Ashwin has made, of Streaked Weavers feeding their young:

and

Pond Herons in fine breeding plumage

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stood stock-still while their sharp eyes scanned the water; and a few Yellow bitterns, which are rather difficult to sight as a rule, were quite clearly visible as, clutching the reeds with both feet, they darted their beaks into the muddy ground for insects, snails or a small fish.

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The typical spider-like movement of these birds, along the reeds instead of over the ground, made them easy to identify, and tell apart from the Pond Herons.

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For many of us, this was a “lifer” (a bird being seen for the first time) and the binoculars and the cameras were very busy indeed!

One surprising fact was that there were far more Brahminy Kites than Black Kites, in a city where the reverse is often true. We enjoyed their soaring, and their swoops into the water to catch fish, the attempts being successful occasionally.

Cormorants, Little, Indian and Great, were in plenty, and flew in and out of the lake, stippling the water as they landed or took off. Overhead, too, they formed skeins as they disappeared into the brightening sky, perhaps bound for other water bodies. Several Darters added their zigzag snake-necks to our bird count.

Several Spot-billed Pelicans were found in the far reaches, while a few swam lazily around nearer to where we stood. We found only a few Spot-billed Ducks, and some Lesser Whistling Ducks, far away. Meanwhile, Ashy and Plain Prinias, and one single Clamorous Reed Warbler, delighted us at the front of our birding stage. Both the Bronze-winged

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and the Pheasant-tailed Jacanas wandered around, the males of the latter in their spectacular “comma-tail” breeeding plumage. For some reason, there were only two Painted Storks, one of which struggled (successfully!) with a very large fish, as we looked on.

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Purple Swamphens

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and Common Moorhens added both colour and black-and-red, and we saw the Pied, White-breasted and the Small Blue Kingfisher. Red-rumped Swallows collected mud for their nests, from the shore.

Indeed, I would say that Begur lake is an ideal spot for bird watching and bird photography. One does not need to walk far; the light of the morning sun falls on the birds; one can watch the behaviour of the birds at leisure, rather than just sighting them and moving on. The first frenzy of the cameras gives way to the calm use of the binoculars!

Nor were birds the only thing that caught our attention, Starting with a gleaming Jewel Bug at the entrance, many handsome six footers welcomed us to the lake. Pentatomid bugs, Net-winged Beetles,

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different kinds of bees and wasps nectaring and gathering pollen

and several spiders which were ready to catch any unwary ones,

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Lynx spider killing a bee which came to nectar in the Dhatura flower.

dragonflies

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Ruddy Marsh Skimmer

and damselflies

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…there was no dearth of six- and eight-legged creatures. Several butterflies woke up

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Lesser Grass Blue

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Mating Mottled Emigrants

and flitted around as the sunlight warmed up; we saw Emigrants, Common and Crimson Roses, some Blues, Tawny Costers…and so the list went.

The lake itself was redolent with the peace of the morning. Scudding grey and white moisture-bearing clouds, across patches of freshly-washed blue skies;

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the reflection of those clouds, along with the old Panchalingeswara temple and the multicoloured buildings of Begur, in the waters of the lake; the fresh monsoon breeze and the gentle monsoon sunshine..it was utterly delightful to be out in the open air, enjoying all of this.

Alas, some trash has also made an appearance at the lake, as has some stagnant areas with stinking algae,

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but with the easing of the lockdown, I hope that the lake will be better maintained.

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Mexican Poppy

We shared our snacks (having removed our masks for a bit, in case you were wondering) and munched contentedly with the ease of undemanding camaraderie, and went homes with our spirits lifted and our memories, and memory cards, filled up!

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I have posted my photos on Flickr

here

and on FB at

here

The eBird list is
here

Looking forward to more outings with all of us having our good health intact,

Deepa.

The Leaf-cutter Bee making a nest….

March 24, 2020

We were at the Kanakapura Police Station,

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trying to make a complaint to the traffic police (why and how is another long story!) and while Jayashree and I were waiting for Deepak to finish his work, we noticed a small insect flying into the open tube of the steel chair.

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I quickly realized that it was a

Leaf-cutter Bee

and that it was trying to make a nest in this space!

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I tried to take photos of it, and got just a couple of shots at odd intervals.You can see a fragment of a leaf being brought in every time.

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It was very tough to click because of the speed at which the insect went in…and since it came out even faster (it didn’t have the burden of the leaf!) I missed it several times. Then, I decided to take a video and got the insect leaving the hole.

You can see the bee zooming out:

Leaf-cutter Bees are mostly solitary, and build their nest cells in various cavities (the hollow arm of the chair appeared very suitable to this insect!) by cutting leaves or collecting resin and bringing them inside. They are, for the most part, above-ground nesters and more commonly attracted to artificial nests…and this one certainly was!

There is afossil record for megachilid from a Middle Eocene dicotyledonous leaf which shows definite semicircular cutouts along its margin, implying that leaf-cutting bees existed at that time.Amazing!

When Deepak came back after finishing his work, he might have felt that we were getting tired or bored…but thanks to the Leaf-cutter Bee, we never knew where the time went! Another opportunity for observing Nature at work in the most unexpected of places.

Bngbirds 3rd Sunday walk, Madivala kere, 160220, evening

February 16, 2020

Following Deepak Jois’ suggestion that I conduct an evening walk, I met up with a reasonably large group of birders at the entrance of Madivala lake at 4.30 pm, after paying uncomplainingly for parking, entry and cameras.

I had been a little worried about the other visitors to the lake, but as it turned out, they were not a hindrance at all. From our meeting point, we could scan the lake…and the first thing that struck us was the horrific growth of the water hyacinth, which appears ready to choke off the entire water body. Boating too, has been stopped because of this. It seemed to be more of a green lawn with some stretches of water.

However, there was enough water for several birds. Purple and Grey Herons, a huge flock of Intermediate Egrets (I have not seen this large a congregation before), Purple Swamphens (no, I will not call them Grey-headed!) and Coots moved around in the vegetation. There was a lone Pelican in the water, but most of them were roosting on the island, waiting to come down to fish later, perhaps.

Moving on, we heard the calls of Barbets and Bulbuls; some of us sighted a few, too. Sunbirds flitted around on the Singapore Cherry tree, as did a solitary Pale-billed Flowerpecker (Sabyasachi told me that they are called “Tuntuni” in Bengali…I know some names like Shalik and Tiya, but this was something I learnt today).

Some Asian Openbill storks were also spotted on the island, and Job exclaimed at seeing several Northern Shovellers on the far side of the waterbody. His sharp-eyed spotting enabled all of us to enjoy a peek at these winter visitors.

Meanwhile, three majestic Marsh Harriers entertained us (and terrified the birds) throughout the walk, alternately perching on the water hyacinth or floating over the water with their whitish heads and the typical “headlights” on their wings showing, as they hunted for unwary prey.

The light on the water turned golden as sunset approached, and it was a great time to watch the birds as they foraged for food. I enjoyed the company of several of the children. Ahana, Surya, Trayee, Vismaya…some of the names that I remember…these were some of the children whom I interacted with. Surya, in particular, seems very knowledgeable about bird names, and was often testing me to see if I knew enough! Such bright and interested minds are fun to spend time with!

We walked to the left of the entrance gate, till past 6pm. Then, as several people bid adieu, I too decided to turn back as the lake gates close at 6.15pm. We were all out of the lake, as I had said, by 6.30 pm, leaving the lake to flights of Little Egrets flying in, and bats beginning to flit about in the gloaming.

The eBird list (45+ species) is at

https://ebird.org/checklist/S64561731

I took few photographs as I was busy scanning the lake with my binoculars! My FB album is at

https://www.facebook.com/deemopahan/media_set?set=a.10157320888153878&type=3

and my Flickr album on

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Thanks to everyone for joining in, and letting me enjoy the golden sunset in the still-pleasant weather of a February evening!

Cheers, Deepa.

Flickr albums and videos of 3rd bird survey at Satpura Tiger Reserve, 04-110220

February 11, 2020

04,05,06 Feb, train to Itarsi/Sohagpur/Madhai, and morning birding at Madhai mud flats

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7th Feb, Parraspani:

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8th Feb, Parraspani and Dhargaon:

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9th Feb, Parraspani and return to Madhai:

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Praveen was sent to Podar and returned to Churna for the last night. We took 2.5 to 3 hours to get there and to return to Madhai. No phones, no food, no forest guard.

Crossing the Denwa river at Parraspani:

Nilgai family on the way back from Dhargaon to Parraspani:

Chital swimming across the river at Madhai:

Little Ringed Plover bathing, Madhai:

Birds and brains! IISc students trip to Ranganathittu, 180120

January 23, 2020

It was a new experience for me…taking 27 students of IISc(from undergrad level to Ph.D. students) along with a professor and his young daughter, to Ranganathittu, on the 18th of Jan, 2020. Arun Kaulige also guided the group. Kiran and Ambarish organized the trip extremely well.

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The group. Photo: a passing tourist!

It was a first for me as I have never before taken such a large group which does not hail from Karnataka! Naturally, since the group consisted of people who have secured admission into various programs at IISc, they were from various parts of the country.

I was also a little doubtful about our later-than-usual start…we left Bangalore at 7.15 am, stopped for breakfast at Kumbalgodu, and then proceeded to Ranganathittu…but I need not have worried.

Flycatchers of three kinds…the Tickell’s Blue, the White-breasted Fantail, and a beautiful Verditer flitted around even as we entered the sanctuary. We were able to spot both Purple and Purple-rumped Sunbirds.

Since almost everyone was new to birding, and the group’s budget was not very big, we decided on the short boat trip for everyone, in two boats, Arun going in one and myself in the other. However, since our boatman, Manjunath, recognized me from the Ranganathittu bird census, he kindly gave us a little extra time!

We enjoyed watching the Spot-billed Pelicans, and the Painted Storks (they are so plentiful here that it’s difficult to remember that they are near-threatened) and Openbills

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flying and perching; Several Grey Herons stood quite nonchalantly, next to rocks that, our group realized in surprised (and vocal!) dismay, were not rocks at all, but glided through the water, showing their deadly scales!

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We saw several “crocs on the rocks”, too, basking in the sunshine. Prof Chandra pointed out one saurian on the island, crunching up a fallen egg; I was able to talk about the diet of eggs and nestlings that the crocodiles enjoy, apart from fish. Manjunath gave a brief history and account of the sanctuary, which I translated for the others.

It was good to see that several Spoonbills have arrived at the sanctuary,

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and were displaying their lacy breeding plumage; Little and Great Cormorants, and one Indian Cormorant, gave diving and drying displays. River Terns made their floating, graceful forays and spectacular aerobatics as they sought fish in the water.

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Stream Glory damselflies mating

After the boat ride, we walked along the bank of the river, and the presence of several tourists did not prevent us from seeing Scaly-breasted Munias, Tricolored Munias

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and Silverbills feeding off the bamboo flowers and seeds. Rose-ringed Parakeets called from above our heads, as did White-cheeked and Coppersmith Barbets. Black and Brahminy Kites floated overhead, mixing with the waterfowl. Arun and I also talked about the various flora in the area

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Mucuna monosperma, Negro Bean, a native climber.

We adjourned to the canteen for lunch,

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and I then suggested that we return via Naguvanahalli, trying our luck with the Blue-tailed Bee-eaters. Google maps always takes us to the “wrong” side of the river and asks us to walk through the water to the sanctuary; so I was careful to take the bus through Naguvanahalli village to the “right” side of the river. I was able to show the group the completely non-touristy landscape of the beautiful Kaveri. Clothes, cattle, vehicles, and human beings..everything was getting washed in Her waters! (Oh yes, I use a capital letter because the Kaveri is a revered, life-giving goddess to me!)

We saw a few Indian Grey Hornbills flying into the trees, and a Black-rumped Flameback rat-tatted its presence on a palm tree-trunk. A few Green Bee-eaters had the group asking me if they were the birds I had told them about. Even while I was shaking my head negatively, thankfully, a Blue-tailed Bee-eater sailed in and landed on the wire, once again riveting the eyes of the group.

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Farmer washing his cow, Naguvanahalli, 180120

I must sadly add , however, that the Bee-eater sanctuary is in a shambles (For some reason, it is marked on Google maps as a Green Bee-eater sanctuary..that is one bird which, for now at least, does not need protection.). The sign and several of the granite poles with barbed wire strung across them, have fallen to the ground. Since the floods in the monsoon of 2019, the Forest Dept seems to have made no effort to build these up properly again. Instead of the hundreds of Blue-tailed Bee-eaters I have seen here in the past, we were lucky to see just seven of them.

The group seemed to enjoy the serene environs, and many of us walked up to the waters and cooled our feet. The rustling of the leaves of the huge Peepal and other trees, the breeze along the river, and sound of the river water…I most definitely recharged my spiritual batteries in the lap of nature.

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Banks of the Kaveri, Naguvanahalli

On the way home, I decided that I would introduce the group to some of our iconic foods and beverages…so we stopped at Bidadi, and the group tasted the Karnataka filter coffee, the Bidadi thatte iddli, and the Maddur vada. The softness of the iddlis encouraged several initially reluctant people to try one!

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We drove home in the glowing, golden sunlight of the evening.

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I was very happy to have shown the students, many of whom live and work almost exclusively in the cocoon of the IISc campus, a part of the State that I live in, and love so much. I am not sure how many missed the malls and the tourist spots, though when given a choice between Srirangapatna and Naguvanahalli, the unanimous vote was for the latter!

The eBird list for Ranganathittu is at

https://ebird.org/checklist/S63528082

and for Naguvanahalli, at

https://ebird.org/checklist/S63528408

I have put up my photos on an FB album at

An outing for the students of IISc.

Posted by Deepa Mohan on Monday, January 20, 2020

and on Flickr at

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I will next be sending an announcement about the 4th Sunday walk this month, which is going to be on the 4th Saturday instead. Meanwhile, enjoy “Mittwoch” (in German, the middle of the week is called exactly that!) and look forward to the weekend, with Republic Day falling on Sunday!

Cheers, Deepa.

4th Sunday outing, Muthanallur kere, 221219

December 27, 2019

Nowadays, what with the monsoon not willing to leave us, and the winter morning fog setting in as well, the question always is, “Will we be able to see anything at the beginning of a bird walk?”

Well, enough of us gathered at the pig farm at Muthanallur lake to answer this question…the answer being, “It’s difficult to distinguish colours, but the birds are there…and enjoy the lovely monochrome scenery until the colours are clear!”

The pig farm was probably not the most pleasant of places as a meeting point, noisome as it was. However, as soon as I took the mandatory group photo, we set off along the narrow path, and reached the bund of the lake. The water in the lake is still quite high, but the areas near the bund are completely covered by water hyacinth, making it impossible for any waders to forage there. We saw a few Grey Herons, a Purple Heron, and several Egrets, and in the bare trees, we watched a flock of Chestnut-tailed Starlings arrive and fly around noisily. This reminded me of the majestic Silk-cotton tree at Lalbagh, the blossoms of which are covered by flocks of these Starlings in season, making it a delightful sight!

The next sighting brought forth exclamation marks from everyone; one of the distant bare branches sat a Booted Eagle, one of the winter visitors which one generally expects to see at this location. A few Drongos were there, too, mobbing other birds as usual..but this time, it was Black Kites which mobbed the Eagle and sent it flying off. However, we kept sighting both the pale and dark morphs of this bird as they wheeled overhead in their search for prey.

We walked as far as we could along the bund, noting the excessive growth of Lantana and Parthenium, which crowded out much of the other plants one would like to see. Sunbirds, however, seemed to enjoy nectaring in the former, and the latter had a lot of Lynx spiders and Orb Weavers.. The “chit-chit-chit” of the Pale-billed Flowerpeckers kept up a rhythm to our walking.

Beyond the majestic Mahua tree and the newly-constructed Adi Parashakti temple, the path became really overgrown after a bit, so we retraced our steps to the temple, where we halted to share our snacks, and then walked down perpendicular to the lake bund. In the open space just beyond the temple, the Booted Eagles gave us an aerobatics show again; and several Large Grey Babblers, a Paddyfield Pipit, and some flitting-in-the-undergrowth Warblers kept us occupied.

The path into the Eucalyptus grove yielded a few more birds, and the swampy area that we ended up in had Purple Swamphens, a White-breasted Waterhen, the White-throated Kingfisher, and Bee-eaters too. We watched each bird’s behaviour for a while, and then turned and retraced our steps.

All this sounds as if we did the walking in a smooth, continuous way…but that is never the way it is with bird watching! Halt, find something that looks interesting, peer it at through binoculars, try and identify the bird, and then observe it…it’s a stop-and-go procedure, with the stops often outnumbering the “go” part!

We noticed several beautiful butterflies on the path, too, and it was pleasant to hear the sound of contented clicking as the macro photographers captured various six- and eight-footers. I was able to point out a few wildflowers like Ipomoea, Indigofera, Trichodesma (such scientific names are, to me, less fascinating than the common names…I much prefer “Coat Button” to “Tridax” and “Krishna Kranti” to Evolvulus!)

All too soon, we wound along the path in the Eucalyptus grove, with the last sighting of a Paradise Flycatcher to keep in our memory (and our memory cards) as a memento of another pleasant morning at Muthanallur kere. As usual, while some of us went home to waiting breakfasts, some adjourned to a group breakfast where we laughed and exchanged notes, and admired excellent shots on the bazooka lenses!

The eBird list is at

https://ebird.org/checklist/S62520502

I have put up my photos on an FB album at

https://www.facebook.com/deemopahan/media_set?set=a.10157160364603878&type=3

and the Flickr album is at

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Butterflies:

Apefly
Blue, Lesser Grass
Blue, Pale Gass
Blue, Pea
Blue, Zebra
Cerulean, Common
Emigrant, Common
Jezebel, Common
Mormon, Common
Pansy, Chocolate
Pansy, Lemon
Pansy, Yellow
Pierrot, Common
Rose, Crimson
Tiger, Plain
Tiger, Striped
Yellow, Common Grass
Yellow, Three-spot Grass

Cheers, and see you all with “Twenty-Twenty” vision next year!

Visit to Ziro Butterfly Festival, Sept 2-9, 2019

September 12, 2019

Since it was a very, very long trip…Bangalore-Guwahati-Itanagar-Ziro-Pange WLS and back…I simply can’t describe everything in detail, but the visual story of what I experienced, with captions, is in a series of albums on Flickr.

Day 1, 020919, Blr-Guwahati:

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Fisherman at Deepor Beel

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Yellow Helen at Deepor Beel

Day 2, 030919, Guwahati and Rani WLS, overnight journey to Naharlagun (Itanagar)

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Grey Pansy, Kirtti Inn

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Crimson Sunbird, Kirtti Inn

Day 3, 040919, Itanagar, journey to Ziro

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Sonku and her son Ranka

Day 4, 050919, Ziro to Pange WLS

https://www.flickr.com/photos/86494503@N00/albums/72157710798479712/with/48716450193/

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Tytler’s Multicolored Flat

Day 5, 060919, Pange WLS

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Bhutan Glory

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Juvenile Dark-sided Flycatcher

Day 6, 070919, Pange WLS to Ziro

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Paresh Churi’s color-pencil work of the Kaiser-e-Hind, the queen of Talle Valley

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An Apatani priest recites a prayer to save the crops from destruction by pests

Day 7, 080919, Walk in Ziro, overnight journey to Itanagar

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View of Old Ziro from Ziro Point

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Lunch at Potin, on the way to Itanagar

Day 8, 090919m Itanagar to Guwahati, and flight back to Bangalore

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Moving furniture

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Blue-tailed Bee-eater

Ravugodlu, 4th Sunday Bngbirds outing, 250819

August 29, 2019

Email to the Bngbirds egroup:

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Since it was cloudy with a possibility of rain, I was quite heartened that 30 of us decided to join for the 4th Sunday Bngbirds outing. We were all quite punctual at the meeting point near the small Anjaneya shrine,

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and the two majestic Banyan trees; and a few Indian Grey Hornbills flying past, and the loud cheep-cheep of a Tailorbird started us off on the path.

Ravugodlu is one of the last semi-scrub forest patches

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that groups can be taken to, without having to go to various Forest Department offices to submit applications in triplicate, for permission (only to be told that you should have done this a week ago!) We enjoyed the scenery and the bluffs on the side of which lies the Ragihalli area. It was delightful to children like Saanvi and Aanvi (er, not related to each other…they just happen to have similar names!) join in, binoculars and note-books in hand.

A few Green Bee-eaters, and the ubiquitous Black and Brahminy Kites were in the air; the rains had ensured that the pond along the path was also full. Several yellow birds…Ioras and Oriental White-eyes

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…brought flashes of brightness to the cloudy atmosphere.

The group rather quickly straggled along the path and I was never sure whether all of us saw all the birds or not! The first sighting of a Shikra, and a Short-toed Snake Eagle, upped our raptor count; we looked it up in the bird book,

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to be sure.

At the pond, we found a solitary White-browed Wagtail, and a small blue jewel of a kingfisher flew about, trying to get breakfast.

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As we reached the part of the path which widens out into a flat area, with the hill slopes and rocks surrounding us, the sunshine finally broke through the clouds and promptly pushed up the temperature! Little Swifts and Palm Swifts swooped around overhead, as did Red-rumped Swallows. We were delighted to see large flocks of Rose-ringed Parakeets flying around into the mango orchard area, as they looked for nesting sites and foraged. These may be very common birds even in the urban setting; but their bright green plumage and red beaks add a lovely dash of colour to any birding outing!

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At the open area, those of us who reached first, brought out our snacks, and I am afraid, though not repentant, that I pigged out on a lot of stuff ( eg Mamta’s superb dhokla and the soy sticks from Haldiram.) Fruits, almonds, many crisp snacks from the recent Janmashtami festival…all were despatched with gusto!

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Though I expected at least half the group to catch up, many people had already left, so only a few people joined up with us. We looked up to see another raptor, and with my usual question mark hovering over my head, I was able to confirm it only later as a Bonelli’s Eagle.

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As we walked back, we looked at several other living creatures…the beauty of the crimson seed pods of the Indian Redwing;

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blooming wildflowers such as the Node Flower,

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Indian Cadaba,

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Coat Button, the Devil’s Coach Whip, Vishnukranti, Cyanotis; the children had great fun touching the Touch-me-not leaves! I was able to show people near me the seed pods of the Indrajao or Pala Indigo,

Several reptiles like the Garden Lizard

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and the Rock Agama

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kept us occupied. Spiders of all kinds…Lynx, Funnel Web, Orb Weavers, Social Spiders…truly wove a web of fascination for us. A little Dung Beetle added some metallic colour.

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We didn’t see too many butterflies, but a Crimson Rose, some Common Mormons, a Common Lime, Emigrants, Jezebels,a Common Baron

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and Grass Yellows which looked like little flitting blossoms in the grass and reeds, added their beauty to the scene. A grasshopper was beautifully camouflaged in the reeds.

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As we returned to our cars, we were suddenly treated to a magnificient finale to the outing…a Black Eagle

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swept past quite low, and had us walking off in its wake, hoping to have a better sight of it.

After this unexpected bonus, I am sorry to say that all the erudite scientific and nature discussions gave way to “Where shall we stop for breakfast?” and the Davangere Benne Dose eatery was the unanimous choice.

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A few of us enjoyed the crisp dose-s with the dollops of potato and butter,

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and with our tummies, minds,hearts (and possibly camera memory cards!) full, we dispersed back to our separate lives and weekend commitments.

Here is most of our group before the start of the walk:

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The eBird list is at

https://ebird.org/india/view/checklist/S59241149

(62 species…not a bad haul for a monsoon morning!)

I have put up my photos on a FB album at

https://www.facebook.com/deemopahan/media_set?set=a.10156844507918878&type=3

For the non-FB friends, the Flickr album is at

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A few of us went to the Bhutanahalli pond to observe the Baya Weaver nesting activity:

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Even here, there were several handsome six-footers to captivate us:

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Jewel Bug

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Sweet Potato Weevil

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Blister Beetle

IMG_0165 Tussock Moth Cat early instar
Tussock Moth caterpillar

Every outing is full of the wonders of the natural world!

Deepa.

Doddakallasandra Kere, 3rd Sunday Bngbirds outing, 180819

August 18, 2019

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A question mark hung over today’s outing, as it rained all over Bangalore, well into the early hours of the morning….prompting most of us to ask ourselves, “Should we go, or turn over in our snug warm comforters for a little more sleep?” Well, some of us chose the former option, and Deepak was delighted to see quite a good turnout at Sri Kumaran School, Doddakallasandra, on such a soggy morning!

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At the very outset, I must thank Deepak for introducing me (and perhaps several others) to a lake that I did not know of in so many years of birding in and around Bangalore.So after people posed for the group photograph (several people joined later), we squelched our way into the muddy and rather slippery path to the lake. It was very heartening to see many newcomers, and we were especially happy to see the rapid recovery which Harish Chandra, one of our experienced birders, is making in his recovery towards good health. The devoted care by Neha, his daughter, is obviously bearing good results! He immediately stepped up to Manvi, and chatted to her as he usually does with children.

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Though cloudy and gloomy, we still started with Rose-ringed Parakeets, Spotted Doves and Red-vented Bulbuls. Several Purple-rumped Sunbirds, Loten’s Sunbirds (all beak and hardly any body!)

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and Pale-billed Flowerpeckers delighted us as they flitted about in spite of the absence of sunlight.

Though the sun did not make an appearance at any point during the walk, it proved to be a productive outing. Sri Eshwarappa (on the left in the pic below)

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is one of several volunteers living near the lake, who have been working tirelessly against alarming odds, to keep the lake alive; he spoke quietly, but with great passion, on the way we have lost our water bodies, and the need to preserve them.

At the lake’s edge, we looked out onto the rain-dappled water, where, as Prasad pointed out, many of the waterfowl were going about their business, heedless of the damp conditions. Darters,

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Cormorants (Little, Great and Indian) roosted on the central island or flew in the gloom; a large flock of Spot-billed Ducks were seen, and Deepak told us that they nest and breed here. A lone Spot-billed Pelican was…spotted!

A Common Iora and a couple of Oriental White-eyes provided a bright touch of yellow to the generally grey surroundings, but soon, my insurance policy (whereby I bring my umbrella or raincoast and it never rains) failed, and the raindrops started coming down in earnest. This stopped our walk, and we were content to just stand near the water’s edge and look out, and up, to see all the birds we could. “Chooee, chooee”, went the tailorbirds, and the “guttrr-guttrr” of the White-cheeked Barbets seem to agree that we should not be walking too far on the path that made me rename the place “Muddy kere!” We learnt about hearing the birds as well as seeing them…in such weather, a good skill to have!

Out came all our umbrellas, proving my point, that Bngbirds is the “umbrella” birding group in Bangalore!

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But that didn’t prevent us from seeing Greater Coucals, distinguishing between House and Jungle Crows, Common and Jungle Mynas, and Black and Brahminy Kites. We noted the presence of several Black-crowned Night Herons, along with Pond Herons and Grey Herons (er, ALL the birds were looking grey this morning!),

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with Little Grebes looking bright in their breeding plumage.

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Spot-billed Ducks and Little Grebes.

Prasad told us about the five facets of a bird which would be needed to identify them. (What are they?…come along next Sunday, to find out!) Several of us were on our first birding outing; and it was very impressive to see Manvi, Sha and Vismay there, bright and early.Children are the way to take birdwatching to the future!

Nor were the birds the only things that we observed. Acacia, Mahogany, Mango, Tamarind, Gulmohar and other trees were identified, and I showed Manvi the Passion Flower (she was unwilling to try the fruit, so I ate them!) the Devil’s Coach Whip, and other wildflowers that we often ignore on our nature walks. Beautiful Damselflies

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and a Scoliid Wasp

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kept us entranced.

The butterflies, too, were not very active because of the dull weather; a few Grass Yellows, one solitary Common Lime, a couple of little Blues, a Common Mormon and a Crimson Rose were the only ones I could see. I am sure the rest of them were sitting cosily under the sheltering leaves and thinking what fools these human beings were, to walk around in such weather!

We did make an effort to come back and walk on the deep (bund) side of the lake, but the rain put a stop to that, too…and for the first time in years, as we dripped our way, we forgot to open up and share our snacks! (I hope it will not happen again, either, for a long time!)

We learnt more about the lakes, the way they were constructed, and the way they have been encroached and destroyed; Naveen, who is a doctor,talked expressively about the need to protect our water bodies.

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Sri Eshwarappa also provided some fresh information, and we all dispersed, some of us going home to waiting families and engagements.

Some of us adjourned to a nearby darshini, where the absence of places to sit made us split into two groups, one eating in the “outstanding” area downstairs, and the other shivering in the unneccessary air-conditioning of “Dana Pani” restaurant, upstairs! Piping hot pongal, dosas, iddli and vadas were despatched with coffee.

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A lot of intormation was shared about various eating places in and around Bangalore. Prasad left early to attend the talk ( by Sri Karthik, att the National College Jayanagar) on the history of Bangalore, but not all of us were able to make it, the call of breakfast, and other commitments, being stronger!

We started birding here:

https://goo.gl/maps/WzqPpuGCu4vnRoZg8

The eBird list (49 species, an excellent count for such a rainy morning!) is at

https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S59069325

I have put up my FB album at

and for non FB friends, a Flickr Album at

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Animal rescue..and afterwards

July 30, 2019

As I stepped into the shower, I noticed a tiny little bug crawling along the ledge where I keep my soap and shampoo. As the water started splashing around, I suddenly realized that a waterdrop had quite inundated the tiny creature. Full of compassion, I used my fingernail to delicately lift up the bug to the vertical wall, where the water would drip off it.

I wondered if I had damaged it, and waited anxiously for a while, looking at the motionless little thing. After a while, it slowly began to crawl up the wall. Brimming with happiness at this animal rescue, I stepped out of the shower stall. Wrapping my towel around me, I walked out of the bathoom, quickly swatting a pesky mosquito.