Posts Tagged ‘karnataka’

Two Malkohas and an unknown Owl: Valley School area, 300717

August 1, 2017

The fifth Sunday of the month, when it occurs, is an occasion when the “bngbirds” umbrella birding group of Bangalore does not have an organized bird walk; it’s time for most of us to earn back some brownie points, or at least get out of the doghouse, by attending to home,families, and other social commitments.

But alas, alas, several of us don’t heed the call to redemption. When Sangita S Mani, who works for Kanha Taj Safaris, told me that she’s in town, and that though she’s been working in Madhya Pradesh for about 12 years now, she’s not birded in Bangalore…it was too good a chance to pass up! Aravind, Padma, Ramaswamy, Srini and I bore her off to the Valley School area.

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I never go to any destination with any particular bird or other sighting in mind. In general, I am content to see what comes my way. However, Sangita particularly wanted to see the Blue-faced Malkoha, and we hoped that this would not be the one day when the bird decided to skulk successfully in the foliage!

We started out with loud calls from the peafowl (though we never saw one of these birds throughout the morning), and carried on along the path,

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sighting White-cheeked and Coppersmith Barbets, and a beautiful Black-shouldered Kite perched on a bare tree. Several birds like the Ashy Prinia, a quick-fleeing Spotted Owlet, Small Minivets

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and White-eyes

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brought us just past the last banyan tree before the abandoned building. Though our names had been the first on the school register, by this time, several others had preceded us with their cameras and binoculars, and two of them were looking into an Acacia tree just beyond the stone seat in the field. “Sirkeer Malkoha,” said one of them, and yes, there the bird was…I was seeing it at the Valley after a long gap, and for some of my friends, it was a lifer, too.

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Just a little later, as we walked along looking up at the swifts and swallows swooping above us, the Blue-faced Malkoha also granted Sangita’s wish.

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Meanwhile, we’d also sighted three flycatchers: a Tickell’s Blue singing its heart out,

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a dancing White-browed Fantail, and a Paradise Flycatcher with an almost-full tail, swishing itself rufously about, to our cries of “There it is…no, it’s moved…it went there…there it is now…oh, it’s gone!”

A White-naped Woodpecker was an uncommon sighting, as it worked its way along the bark of a bare tree.

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My friends had a great experience of a mixed hunting party, quite large, all foraging in the area near the wall, and were very happy with their observation of how the different birds fed together. In many Hindu cultures, we have the concept of the “samaaraadhana” where people belonging to all castes and communities have a meal together, and this was the birding equivalent!

The plants and six-footers caught our attention too.

Crimson Rose

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Common Gull

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Psyche….it wanders about like the spirit (in Greek) it’s named after.

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Dark Blue Tiger

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White Orange-tip

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Shield Bug

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Gram Blue on Grewia sp.

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Golden Eggs of Coreidae bug:

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Bagworm Moth pupa on spiderweb

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Moth caterpillars with egg:

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Beautiful berries

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? tiny flower

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Bauhinia purpurea

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Allmania nodiflora

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We walked into the bamboo thicket and heard another Tickell’s Blue singing; several babblers gave voice in the bushes on the way there. Raptors never fail to arrive when they can be seen for the shortest time, and a Short-toed Snake Eagle shot past the small gap between the bamboo leaves.

We decide to take a calorie break, and ate some pongal with roasted appalam. Some of us were scheduled to attend formal lunches, and I hoped to avoid the usual “brefus stop” on the way home.

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(But of course, I wanted a bit of caffeine on the way home and when we stopped at Vidyarthi Grand, the coffee somehow developed into a proper breakfast! I am certainly not fast…on either expertise with the natural world, or with avoiding food!)

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We were very like the seamen of old being led on by the Lorelei, as we walked towards where we felt the call of the White-rumped Shama was coming from. As we did so, Srini sighted an owl sitting high up on a tree; it flew away almost immediately, but we feel it was not the Brown Wood Owl, but rather, a Mottled Wood Owl (I’ve seen one often in the area behind the abandoned house, which is now walled off.)

The Shama treated us to a couple of sightings in the misty morning,

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and full of its beautiful song,

we turned back towards the main gate, and so off towards what the Sunday held for each of us. Our hearts, binoculars, memory cards were all filled with images of the morning.

The eBird list, compiled by Aravind, is

here

I have put up photos on my FB album

here </a.

(as usual, documenting the morning, not focusing on any one living creature).

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Cheers, Deepa.

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T G Halli, 260617

June 27, 2017

A last-minute decision, and six of us, including a birder from Noida, Delhi, who will be moving to Bangalore in a while…off we went, in the predawn dark, to T G Halli Reservoir.

Padma Ramaswamy, Akhilesh Sharma, G S Ramaswamy, Y S Prasanna, Sudha Mahalingam

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It’s getting harder for me to categorize these outings as birding trips, as there is always so much more to observe and enjoy. Just watching the lush greenery that has sprung up after the rains, with the waters reflecting the scudding monsoon clouds, lifts the heart and
brings such joy.

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As we descended towards the water, we were stopped, literally in our tracks, by a Pioneer bush. This was one where the leaves had all been stripped away by the caterpillars of the Pioneer butterfly,

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which had then pupated on the branches and twigs.

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Many of the butterflies had just emerged or were emerging…

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and those which had taken on their new form were flittering around the bush. We could not help watching this dance of new life for a while.

There was also a bird’s nest in the middle of the bush.

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As we walked along the banks of the reservoir, the birds did not disappoint us, either. Beautiful little Indian Silverbills made music scores on the wires.

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Spot-blilled Pelicans, which are now resident birds, floated on the surface,

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…as did Little Grebes and Common Coots. Cormorants…Little, Great, and the distinctive Indian…flew and swam around, occasionally diving beneath the surface in search of food.

Ashy-crowned Sparrow Larks

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and Tawny Larks

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flitted about the landscape.

Ashy Prinias went about picking up prey and going to their nests.

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A Little Ringed Plover sat on a mud flat.

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Since it is the time of year when we can only see RBI (Resident Birds of India!), we watched two Spot-billed Ducks, and a Clamorous Reed Warbler. However, some Tawny Larks, flitting about, a Whte-browed Wagtail behaving according to its name, added to our list, as did this White-browed Bulbul.

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At one point, the sounds were much more than the actual sight of the birds! The Common Hawk Cuckoo called its complaint of “brain-feeever!”, Tailorbirds, Flowerpeckers (presumably the common Pale-billed variety) and Sunbirds added their calls, Grey Francolins and Red-wattled Lapwings (we did see some later) punctuated the general bird song with their phrases, too. We heard the trilling calls of the Green Bee-eaters long before we saw any.

Both the woodland and the water birds continued to delight us as we walked along. At two spots, active colonies of Baya Weaver nests were being constructed.

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We watched these residential layouts taking shape, and also being inspected by the prospective owners (is there a word such as “owneress”? as the inspectors were the ladies!)

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Flying between the nesting tree and the thorny date palm behind, the birds kept us quite occupied.

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It was business as usual for the contract fishermen on the lake.

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The birding was interrupted by more “buttering” (as Rohit Girotra says, if birdwatching is birding, then butterfly-watching is buttering!) as Pioneers, Crows, various Blues, Pansies, and others flew about us, mud-puddling and also basking in the weak sunshine.It’s not often that one gets to photograph the Blue butterflies with their wings open, and we made the most of the opportunity.

Forget-me-not

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Blue Pansy

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Plains Cupid

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Common Banded Awl

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Indian Skipper

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Grass Yellow

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Common Leopard

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We observed some insects, too, such as this Blister Beetle

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this Green Marsh Hawk Dragonfly

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and this Jewel Bug

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this caterpillar

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a Day-flying Handmaiden Moth

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Even the common Housefly can be beautiful up close!

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But a further treat awaited us a little further. Two juvenile Green Bee-eaters, which have, apparently, not (yet) developed any fear of humans, sat quite close to the path, and flew around us as they hawked insects from the air. Their plumage, much duller than that of the
adults, allowed them to melt into the foliage of the tree they sat in.

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We walked a little further, expecting them to fly off to a distance…but they did not. All of us had goofy smiles on our faces as they flew about our heads, and landed on twigs quite close to us!

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Here’s a full-frame shot of one of them.

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If only all birds,and indeed, all wild creatures, could be (safely)thus free of the fear of humans…well, for a little while, we were in that Utopia!

Just when we thought of turning back, a nice “zebra-backed” Hoopoe, foraging along the ground,

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kept us there for a while longer…

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Reluctantly, we turned back on the path, heading back towards the chores and commitments that awaited us back home.

The wildflowers were lovely too. The Water Hyacinth, an ornamental which is now choking up our waterways as an invasive pest, still has lovely flowers:

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The Cleome had begun to blossom:

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Commelina flowers made bright sparkles underfoot.

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But the scenes. of the cloudy, cool morning on the reservoir will surely be in our mind’s eyes, recharging our souls and getting us through the stresses and strains of our mundane weekdays…We wished every devout Muslim citizen Id Mubarak, as we went home.

Oh…the food? Since we were in a rush, we did not stop for the usual post-trip brefus, but we did have fun eating Padma’s sandwiches, and some of the sweets I’d brought from the wedding I attended on Sunday.

The eBird list (and an impressive one it is, too, for a “summer” outing!) is

here

and I’ve put up my photographs of the trip on an FB album

here

Birders:

Akhilesh
Padma/Ramaswamy
Prasanna
Sudha (from NOIDA)
and I

Butterflies:

Awl, Common Banded
Blues, various (the experts are still disagreeing over the up-wing photos of some of those I clicked, so I will stop with that, instead of going into Gram, Grass, Pea and so on!)
Baronet
Cerulean, Common
Coster, Tawny
Cupid, Plains
Emigrant, Common
Emigrant, Mottled
Forget-me-not
Gull, Common
Jezebel, Common
Leopard, Common
Lime,Common
Mormon, Common
Pansy, Blue
Pansy, Chocolate
Pansy, Lemon
Pioneer
Rose, Common
Rose, Crimson
Sunbeam, Indian
Skipper, Indian
Tiger, Plain
Yellow, Common Grass
Yellow, Three-spot Grass

Already looking forward to the next weekend and what it may bring,

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3rd Sunday outing, Turhalli, 180617

June 21, 2017

It was still rather cloudy and overcast as several of us met at Vajrahalli Gate, on our way to the Turahalli Forest Trail, where a few more nature lovers from the nearby areas also joined us.

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It was heartening to see that several children had joined the walk too! Keerthana had brought her friends Anvitha, Krishna, and Sahana; Subrahamanya C N and his wife Neha had brought their son Shreyamsh along. Many of the children kept meticulous notes in their notebooks.

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Ulhas introduced himself and talked a bit about the Turahalli forest, its earlier range and present confines. Prasad, too, joined us, and shared his knowledge with us.

As we slowly walked up the trail, Deepak decided that rather than go uphill, we would take the path skirting the base of the hill.

Ulhas and Deepak (centre left, and right)

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The usual gang of suspects, as we like to call the birds that one expects at a birding spot, turned up one by one…White-cheeked and Coppersmith Barbets, the Green Bee-eaters flying around as they hawked insects in the air, those who were more experienced pointed out the birds to those who were coming on an outing, or seeing the birds, for the first time.

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Nor were birds the only creatures of interest. Several of us were interested in the plants and trees that we passed; Ajit, Subbu and I looked at the tiny, beautiful flowers of what Arun Kumar N later told us, was the Byttneria herbacea, or Herbal Byttneria.

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Some species of Clerodendrum,

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little blue Evolvulus flowers at our feet,

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Spider lilies

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the children (and some of us adults too!) having fun watching the Touch-Me-Not (Mimosa pudica) close up its leaves when we touched it….all these added to the walk. On the trees, the summer flowers were slowly giving way to the monsoon greenery, but here and there, the Jacaranda still held on to its purple blooms. Tiny wild jasmine flowers starred the path and added the magic of scent to the sights and sounds.

The sounds, too, were plenty. Ashy Prinias and Tailorbirds “marked attendance”. The sight of a peacock with a full “tail of a thousand eyes”, in the branches of a Peepal tree,

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held us riveted at the beginning, and we kept hearing them throughout. The songs of Oriental Magpie Robins floated liquidly through the air, and we heard the harsher call of the Shikras even before sighting one.

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All around us, the butterflies dotted the air as they flitted about, and a fair amount of the walk was spent observing these winged beauties.

Crimson Tip

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Common Gull

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Zebra Blue

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Cotton Stainer Bugs

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Spider, Turahalli, 180617 Plexippus paykulli, Salticidae spider

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Finding some caterpillars,

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a large Cicada, and other insects, also kept our interest from flagging.

This Yellow Pansy was caught in a spiderweb, and the eternal dilemma…should we intervene or not? solved itself as the butterfly suddenly freed itself and fluttered away.

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The heavy, moisture-bearing clouds slowly gave way to the fleecy cotton-puffs (insert scientific names like Nimbus and Cumulus here!) that heralded bluer skies and bright patches of sunshine. Several walkers and cyclists shared our path.

Subbu and Nandini, who live in Turahalli Forest View, informed me that the Indian Rock Eagle Owl can still be seen regularly in this patch. We were not able to see too many raptors, though, probably because of the cloudy weather; we were content to see Brahmin and Black Kites, and an Oriental Honey Buzzard.

It is one of the marks of an interesting walk that even after many of us returned to our starting point, we were still observing and enjoying ourselves, and rather reluctantly pulled ourselves away

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to go off to a late breakfast at Adayar Ananda Bhavan (A2B)!

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Birds:

The eBird list, compiled by J N Prasad, is

here

Birders (as far as I can remember)

Adnan Raja,Ajit Ampalakkad, Amit C Javgal, Anil Bhatta,Anirudh
Bhatta, Anvitha, JN Chandrashekar,Deepa Mohan,Deepak Jois, Harish
Chandra, Janhvi Vyas, Lata, Keerthana ,Krishna,Lata, Nandini, Neha,
Padma Ramaswamy, Prashanth M Badrinath, Raji Hari, GS Ramaswamy, Rupa
Rao, Sahana, Sarrah , little Shreyamsh, Reshamwala,Sathyan, TS
Srinivasa, Sriram Prabhakar, Subramaniam Kumar, Subrahmanya C N,
Tamanna, Tara Jayarao from Hyderabad,Tarachand Wanvari. Uday
Kumar,Ulhas Anand, Vijay Krishnan. If I’ve left out anyone…put it
down to my famous memory (or lack of it) and forgive me!

Butterflies:

Baronet
Blues, Various
Blue, Tiny Grass
Blue, Zebra
Brown, Common Evening
Castor, Common
Cerulean, Common
Coster, Tawny
Crimson Tip
Crow, Common
Cupid, Plains
Emigrant, Common
Emigrant, Mottled
Gull, Common
Jezebel, Common
Leopard, Common
Mormon, Common
Orange Tip, White
Orange Tip, Yellow
Pansy, Lemon
Pansy, Yellow
Pioneer
Rose, Common
Rose, Crimson
Tiger,Dark Blue
Yellow, Common Grass
Yellow, Three-spot Grass

I have put up my photos on an FB album

here

Let me leave you with my “shadow selfie”…

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Passiflora incarnata at the Butterfly Festival, 170617

June 17, 2017

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

You can see the photos on my Flickr album

here

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

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

Jaipurdoddi trip, 110717

June 12, 2017

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

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

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

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

veN pongal

for everyone.

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

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

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Brown-capped Pygmy Woodpecker

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

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

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

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Tiny blue Evolvulus flowers grew along the ground.

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

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Here’s the Large Cuckooshrike:

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An Oriental Honey Buzzard, surveying the territory for prey:

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An Ashy Drongo:

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A Black-rumped Flameback, amongst the bushes:

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

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

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

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

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

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Here are some Vitex negundo (Medicinal nishad) flowers:

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

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

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

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Common Leopard

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Yellow Pansy:

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Tawny Coster:

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Pioneer:

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Common Lime:

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Common Emigrant:

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

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

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eBird list from Ragihalli is

here

and the list from Jaipurdoddi is

here

Butterflies

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

Let me leave you with a “Leopard sighting”!

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Bhoochakra gadde or Kandamool, being sold in Bangalore, 070617

June 8, 2017

I found an interesting root being sold on vendor’s cart.

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The scientific name, Manjula Desai tells me, is

Maerua oblongifolia

This belongs to the Capparaceae (Caper) family.

It’s called “bhoo chakra gadde” in Kannada, (it would be better translated as “bhoo shakkar gadde”…earth-sugar tuber”. I am not able to find the name in Tamil.

Here’s a video of a slice being smeared with lemon, dipped in sugar, and served:

Here’s another video, where the skillfully-carved slice is served without lemon or sugar:

Someone says it is from Haridwar.

here

is a scientific study of the DnA of this root.

By Subhashish Panigrahi – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=56546985

Could someone help with more information?

Gulakmale and Thotti Kallu (T K) Falls, 280517

May 29, 2017

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Sivakumar Mallya, Sudha Iyengar, Janhvi Vyas, Aadya Umesh, Suma Seshadri, Kavitha Umesh, Jayashree Govindarajan, Rishov Biswas, Ramaswamy G S, Padma Ramaswamy, and I, went to visit Gulakmale kere (lake) and T K Falls.

Because of the heavy rain,we started in cool, cloudy and misty weather. Here is the Champakadhama temple at Bannerghatta…an old temple that appears to be lost in the mists of time.

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The mist was everywhere.

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We first stopped at the small pond near the path to the Bhavani temple:

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Having spotted some Baya Weavers,

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We moved to Gulakmale kere,

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where we watched a colony of these birds on a date palm.

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Aadya faithfully documented all that she saw, and as usual, sketched, too. Here’s her sketch of the Baya Weavers’ nest:

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Even as they built their dwellings, a White-rumped Munia arrived to try and occupy them.

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Nature, as a teacher, gave me a geometry lesson.

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The sky slowly cleared

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We then went to T K Falls, where the water had been released due to heavy rain over the Suvarnamukhi river, resulting in a beautiful cascade:

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I took a video of the scene a little further downstream where we crossed to the Muniswara temple area:

Wildflowers were everywhere.

Cleome monophylla, Spindle Pod

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Tarenna asiatica, Asiatic Tarenna:

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Chinese lanter tree

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Hibiscus lobatus (very tiny)

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Grewia damine

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Cadaba fruticosa – Indian Cadaba

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I found a very good website to identify wildflowers,

here

There were plenty of birds, like the

Ashy Prinia on the Marsh Glory

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Cinereous Tit

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Coppersmith Barbets

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Purple-rumped Sunbird

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Southern Coucal

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Many butterflies delighted us.

Crimson Tip

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White Orange-tip

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Blue Tiger

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Plain Tiger on Stachytarpeta

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Common Crow

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Here are three pathologists, one senior banker and one Jobless Person:

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On the way back this beautiful Brahma bull (even though a little emaciated) looked majestic.

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Here we all are, about to tuck into brefus at Udupi Banashree on Bannerghatta Road

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Gulakmale bird list:

here

T K Falls

here

Butterfly list

Blues, various
Cerulean, Common
Crimson Tip
Crow, Common
Cupid, Plains
Emigrant, Common
Emigrant, Mottled
Gull, Common
Jezebel, Common
Leopard, Common
Orange-tip, White
Pansy, Lemon
Rose, Common
Rose, Crimson
Tiger, Blue
Tiger, Plain
Tiger, Striped
Yellow, Common Grass
Yellow, Spotless
Yellow, Three-Spot Grass

FB album

here

Nandi Hills, 220417

May 1, 2017

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Venkat, Varun, Shanthala, Kedar, Akansha, Nitin, Janhvi, Padma, Vidhya, Ramaswamy, Nandi Hills, 220417

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Puff-throated Babbler

The blossoming Gulmohar..

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The floral carpet below.

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Vanda testacea, an orchid that was growing wild.

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Tipu’s summer lodge:

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Owl’s Eye Moth

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“Oooh, see the Nilgiri Wood Pigeons!”

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Here they are, billing and cooing together:

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It was a lovely morning, you can see the album

here

The eBird list is

here

for Nandi and

here

for Jakkur kere.

Visit to Shivamogga, Mathur, Kudli, and Sakrebailu, 080417 to 100417

April 19, 2017

Kiran Kannappan and I went to Shivamogga to help conduct a summer camp for 85 rural children, under the aegis of

Vatsalya

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run by Shaila, Shruthi and Adarsh

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Morning prayer

Story-telling, some Sanskrit shlOkAs,

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nature around the campus, basic birding

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Red-wattled Lapwing on the school campus

basic origami,

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basic cartooning

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…these were some of the things we went through with the very receptive children.

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On the 9th evening, we visited

Mathur

where Sanskrit is taught, and still used extensively. We visited a couple who have settled down there, having built this beautiful house:

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Lakshmi Narasimha temple, Mathur

We then went to the shAradA temple at Kudli

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as it was about to close.

On 100417, we visited the Sakrebailu Elephant Camp.

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Kiran decided that we would return by the afternoon train rather than wait for the overnight one…so a memorable visit to Shivamogga came to a conclusion!

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Colourful buses….

April 11, 2017

One of the things that interest me very much is the wonderful colours of the buses that ply on our roads….the mofussil (sub-urban) buses, and those that connect the various towns of our State.

I had a bonanza when, on our way back from

Sarkrebailu

after seeing the rehabilitated elephants, we came to the Shivamogga bus terminus.

There were a whole row of colourful beauties. I won’t say anything more, but let the colours, the images and the words talk for themselves!

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For a break, here are a row of apples (iPads?)

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Another break with the co-existence of two species:

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Some more children:

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The Tiger Fighter bus had a lovely pic of Tipu fighting the tiger:

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I feasted my eyes as I took an ordinary-coloured bus to go back to Ayanur!