Posts Tagged ‘insects’

Jewels of nature

August 30, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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4th Sunday outing, Bngbirds: Muthanallur Kere, 220718

July 25, 2018

Our group, the Usual Gang of Suspects, at MCS or Mandatory Chai Stop. The group always has different people, so this is a good way of introducing ourselves to each other!

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The assembled group except for MBK.

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Anil, Anindita, Divya, Regin, Arpita,Sushma, Imtiaz (hidden),Siri, Sanjay, Suhasini, Padma,Prathap, Ramaswamy, Gopinath, Raju, Harish, Ganesha, Priyaranjan, Subramanya, Sahas, Vijay, Arnab, Srini, Deepak. MBK is missing. Muthanallur lake,220718

With MBK, who was photographing me photographing the group!

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Email to bngbirds egroup:

Dear Shyam, Sorry that you had to miss a very pleasant morning, and one where two of the most experienced birders of Bangalore were present! It was very nice to have Dr M B Krishna and Dr S Subramanya, who shared some of their encyclopaedic knowledge with us.

Suhasini with MBK and Subbu

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All of us met at the Shani temple at Muthanallur,

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but when we started walking on the lake bund, it was apparent that because of the proliferation of water hyacinth, this part of the lake was completely choked and we could not see much. So we all piled into our cars and went to the Muthanallur bus stop, and from there to the path that leads past a pig farm to the shore of the lake.

Rose-ringed Parakeet

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The lake was brimming; this is, surely, the fullest that I have seen this waterbody.

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The path that we usually walked on was completely under water, so we took the higher path. This, too, was very overgrown after the rains, and we did not cover more than half the distance we usually cover in drier seasons. However enough interesting beings kept us occupied.

Pied Kingfisher

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Having started with Coppersmith Barbets and White-throated Kingfishers near the temple, we looked at Little Grebes, Little and Great Cormorants, Coots and an occasional Egret and Pond Heron. Black Kites and Brahminy Kites soared over the water, effortlessly riding on the monsoon wind. We heard the Common Iora before some of us spotted it. Some Purple Swamphens, Common Moorhens, and an Indian Cormorant added to our list. We watched Sunbirds and Flowerpeckers, too.

Sunbird’s nest

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Oriental Darter

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Nor was there a lack of other creatures to observe. Today certainly seemed to be Spider Day! Wood Spiders, Orb Weavers, Tent Spiders, Signature Spiders, Comb-footed Spiders, Social Spiders…what a variety of them we were privileged to see this morning!

Butterflies, dragonflies, and damselflies, too, dotted our walk and it was nice to see ants farming hoppers on the Milkweed plants. Siri was the only child on the walk, but she was most interested in everything, even though a snail shell had her drawing back in disgust!

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Green Lynx Spider with fly kill.

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A variety of wild plants were all around us. I showed them the Abutilon, the Devil’s Coach Whip, the Coat Button flowers, and the heart-shaped mark on the seeds of the Balloon Vine, that gives it the scientific name “cardiospermum” (cardio=heart, spermum=seed).Evolvulus, Justicia, Richardia, Senna, bloomed everywhere.The water hyacinth led the list of invasive plants, with Parthenium, Lantana, Eupatorium there too. We looked at the monocultures of Acacia and Eucalyptus.

Returning, we paused at the Adi Parasakhti temple that has been recently built, next to the huge old Mahua tree, which was fruiting.

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MBK aaked an intriguing question about why the tree dropped all its seeds near itself rather than trying to disperse it far and wide. (Want to know the answer? Email him!) We shared the variety of snacks that we brought, and having restored our tissues, walked back to our waiting commitments elsewhere and the routine of our weekday lives.

Some of us stopped for breakfast at South Inn, on Sarjapura Road, as we returned that way.

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Replete, and charged up with the easy companionship of a morning spent in Nature, we wended our way homewards.

Many thanks to Deepak, who came along in spite of running a fever the previous day. As one of us had locked the key inside the car, he stayed until the issue was sorted out (Gautam went to the village and got a mechanic from a garage, who opened the car in a few minutes!), before leaving.

Small Salmon Arab.

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MBK made the point that the walk must start later to allow students to join in. However, on my own walks, I ensure that college students and young women are provided safe transportation, and have many of them on walks that start sharp at 6.30am. It just takes a little extra effort to accommodate people in cars; and it results in everyone meeting new people and bonds the group together!

So please, if you have any difficulty with transportation on the 3rd and 4th Sunday walks, do ask on the group if someone is coming from your area; people are generally happy to share a ride, and people like me, who do not have a car, or have trouble with the low frequency and late start of public transport on a Sunday, can still enjoy these outings.

I have put up an album of my photos on FB,

here

and on Flickr,

here

I have taken a short video of the group while we took a snack break:

Shyam and others, wishing you a good time for the rest of the Sunday, (I mean the siesta as well as the time left!) and a productive week ahead.

Cheers, Deepa.

Blue Mormon, Common Mormon

July 17, 2018

The Common Mormon does not have blue
Whether it’s the UP or UN you view.
The female Common Mormon can pose
An appearance like the Crimson Rose.
But if the UP of the Blue Mormon you view
And look at that pattern of blue
The larger size will make you stare
As this beauty floats through the air.
These differences are, I tell you, true
Between the Mormon, Common and the Mormon, Blue!

Blue Mormon

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Common Mormon

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Common Mormon female mimicking Crimson Rose

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On watching the butterfly migration….

June 7, 2018

They fly, severally, across my path

Fluttering on their way.

“Godspeed, you little butterflies,”

Is all that I can say.

How far they come, these little ones

Creatures of light and air

With so many obstacles to face,

Who knows how each will fare?

Will this Crow make it across?

Will that Tiger survive?

Flying over in their hundreds,

How many will live, and thrive?

How many will fall, becoming the food

Of predators, swift and alert?

How many will survive attacks

And flit on, torn and hurt?

I do not how many will make it

But each one flying is a lovely sight.

I pray that these brave little beauties

Are able to survive the flight!

Small-scale warfare….Valley area, 050518

May 7, 2018

On our way back from our nature/birding outing, I suddenly caught sight of a beetle and a snail, on a tiny twig. Seeing these two together isn’t very common, so I decided to photograph the scene.

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I then realized that what was going on was an attack, and a major war! The beetle, like all ground beetles, likes a snail diet, and was attacking this one.

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This was an amazing drama that we watched for a while. The beetle was attacking the snail, which produced the froth in self-defence.

Whenever the beetle approached the snail, it would get caught in the froth and would go off with a little bit in its mouth.

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You can see this here:

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The snail obviously had nowhere to go, given its speed of locomotion, and its postition at the end of the twig. It had to fight.

Having got just a mouthful of froth for its efforts, off the beetle would go, up the twig, try to get rid of it, and return to the fray,er, froth!

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Such miniature fights-to-the-death happen all the time, around us…in the parks, in our own gardens. All that is needed to endramatically interesting moments is a little observation!

4th Sunday outing, March ’18, and bird census: Hoskote kere, 250318

March 27, 2018

Email to bngbirds egroup:

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I had been toying with the idea of making Hoskote kere the venue for the 4th Sunday outing, when the email from Swaroop and his team arrived, announcing the bird count there. That made the decision easy, and several of us gathered at 6.30am at the Gangamma temple on the bund of the lake.
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We had a good mix of experts and newbies, children and adults, binoculars and bazookas 😀

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Swaroop and his team

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sent us in several directions, to see what we could see, and document what we saw. The paths were as as follows:

Dipu K, et al: north west edge
Rajneesh Suvarna, et al: Raghavendra Talkies
Vinay Bharadwaj, et al: east edge
Ashwin Viswanathan. et al: west edge:
Deepa Mohan, et al: Meeting point plus south-west edge

I was happy to take the children from Om Shri School along, as part of the initiative to involve schools.I found the children very interested; they patiently learnt how to use my binoculars, used the scope often, and asked a lot of questions too. I was able to show them almost all the birds that we sighted, and the bird scope was used well!

I started off with group, looking at the woodland birds in the plant clutter on both sides of the road. As the mist slowly lifted, we walked down the path with the lake waters along both sides. I have never before been able to walk past the "isthmus" that juts out into the water; in fact, a couple of months ago, the lake was so brimful of water that birders could not go down at all, and had to be content with birding from the bund along the Gangamma temple.

Robins, sunbirds, prinias and others were pointed out but then we got a few Baillon's Crakes

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in the water hyacinth at water level, and most of us got busy clicking these usually skulky and shy birds, which will soon begin their migration.

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Garganeys

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But our "regulars"….the Spot-billed Pelicans, Little Grebes, Coots, and Herons (like this Grey Heron)

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kept us all occupied as we watched them. There were Black and Brahminy Kites in the air, joined by a lone Marsh Harrier, another winter visitor which was looking for prey. Rosy Pastors

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flew over the water and settled in the dry trees. We saw Barn Swallows,

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as well as the Red-rumped, Wire-tailed, and Streak-throated variety.

It was nice to see both kinds of Jacanas, Pheasant-tailed

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and Bronze-winged,

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in the lake; similarly, Yellow, Grey and White-browed Wagtails flew around. One "dip" was the Pied Kingfisher, but we spotted the Small Blue and the White-throated Kingfishers.

Glossy Ibis

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Blyth's Reed Warbler

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Schoolchildren, along with the teacher, using the scope and binoculars

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Our group

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The children of Om Shri School

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Sandpipers, too, made their appearance, flying around with their typical calls. We noted Egrets, both Intermediate and Small. Spot-billed Ducks and Garganeys flew over the water and settled down, and were quite easy to show to the children. In fact, I was wondering if the children, or the schoolmaster who accompanied them, could take so many names thrown at them at the same time! I know I would have found it difficult to remember. But their interest did not flag, and after a certain point, it was I who had to call them back to return. It is very satisfying to be able to show people a whole lot of birds on their first outing!

Ants

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Water cabbage, an acquatic plant:

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Line-up of many of my group:

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Valli and Janhvi helped me with the app and physical paper entries, and we had to catch up with the bird names every now and then, as each of us spotted different birds! It was nice to have a problem of plenty.

Fish caught at the lake is sold on the bund every morning.

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Children on the lake reaches

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An array of snacks, including Manoj's mom-made alu parathas, kept us going.

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Return we did, to a hearty breakfast provided by the Karnataka Forest Department (KFD).

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Some of the teams whose transects were further afield did not return for a while, but all of us were very satisfied birders that morning! It sometimes happens that some paths have less birds ( on a census/bird count, it's our duty just to record what see, whether the numbers are lower or higher) but it's a great feeling when everyone returns with a satisfactory count of species. One group sighted the Eurasian Wryneck, which is a new bird-sighting for this lake.

Thanks to Valli, I met Arun and his friend, from the Andamans, and they gave us insights into the birding scene where they come from.

Our grateful thanks to Swaroop and team who provided us a great opportunity to see the variety of birds that Hoskote kere has to offer. Swaroop, Praveen and Nagabhushana say that 126 species were sighted during the morning, by over 120 volunteers! A big thank you for providing this opportunity for the 4th Sunday outing.

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Fishing boats

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For the next few months, we will concentrate more on the resident birds in and around our city, and bid goodbye to our winter visitors.

The eBird checklist for my group is

here

Swaroop will provide the links to the other checklists.

I have put up my photographs (not by a DSLR camera, and not only birds…there is even a photo of some beautiful ants!) on my FB album,

here

Cheers, Deepa.

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

Nature walk for Munchkins Montessori, Puttenahalli kere, 151217

December 15, 2017

Letter to Chanda of Munchkins:

Hi Chanda,

The walk went very well. It was very nice to meet Priti, Mythili, Anna and others.

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List of various beings seen:

Birds:

Cormorant, Great

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Cormorant, Little
Egret, Cattle
Egret, Little
Heron, Pond
Kite, Common
Moorhen, Purple
Sunbird, Purple-rumped
Tailorbird, Common
Warbler, Greenish

Butterflies:

Bob, Chestnut
Cerulean, Common
Castor, Common
Emigrant, Common
Jezebel, Common
Lacewing, Common (eggs)
Leopard,Common
Pansy, Lemon

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Lime, Common
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Tiger, Plain
Tiger, Striped
Yellow, Common Grass

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Fishes:
Tilapia

Insects:

Bees
Damselflies
Dragonflies
Spiders
Wasps

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Trees and Plants

Bougainvillea
Badminton Ball
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Date Palm
Fig Tree
Honge
Mahogany
Neem
Pride of India
Sampige
Singapore Cherry

I talked about leaf composting, clearing weeds in the lake, the way birds’ beaks have different shapes, water and woodland birds, differences in leaves and tree bark, and about how much effort it takes to maintain a lake.

When I conduct walks I generally take far fewer photos. I have posted the photos on my FB album

here

Please share this link with the others.

Looking forward to future association with all of you…the children were truly delightful!

Cheers, Deepa

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