Posts Tagged ‘karnataka’

Visit to FES for Grow-Trees, Kallimapalli, Karnataka, 230618

June 28, 2018

I got a call from my friend Srinvasa Shenoy, aka Srini, asking whether I would be interested in a visit to a site where afforestation is being done, near the Karnataka/Andhra Pradesh border, in a small village called Kollimapalli.

Since I am always interested in this kind of work, I asked a few friends too, and we set off. After a productive morning of birding at

Bhairasagara lake

which delayed us quite a bit, we drove to

Bagepalli

where we met Avinash Chowdary of

Foundation for Ecological Security (FES)

Srini tries to offset the carbon footprints of his clients in the travel company he runs, by donating to

Grow Trees

and wanted to see the planting efforts on the FES site. FES is the local partner of Grow Trees for planting trees as a part of its efforts in ecological restoration in co-ordination with local rural communities.

We found the tiny hamlet of Kollimapalli nestled in a rocky, scrubby landscape:

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Blue skies greeted us as we entered the tiny village and walked up the forest path.

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The local people whom we met said that what was earlier a barren, arid area was now quite green with the establishment of the scrub jungle, with planted trees growing well.

However”The objective,” says Srini, “is not about planting trees only – rather, it is a broader perspective of ecological restoration through water conservation, planning, planting trees (local and at the right place), educating the communities, providing expertise and then working along with them and the local government. It is all about providing a sustainable solution at the local level.”

Here we are (at the end of the site visit) :

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It is critical that the rules and practices resolved by the local panchayat are followed, for the success of the project, as they allow everyone to participate in the effort.

FES follows a system of CRPs (Community Resource Persons). CRPs are not employed full time – but devote about half of their time for a fixed payment. The CRPs monitor, report, and co-ordinate with local people. Each CRP is responsible for 4-5 villages. They have 350 villages under their project.
They have corporate sponsors like Grow-trees, Say Trees, HUF (Hindustan Unilever), Axis Bank etc.. – who fund them under their CSR budgets. The Community Resource Persons we met were

Grazing is allowed in certain areas, and others are ‘prohibited’ zones for grazing, to allow for vegetative regeneration. Here is a river of cattle flowing down one of the paths in the permitted area.

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The impact of all these efforts is felt when the local stakeholders accept the results; the results are synergetically more than just the number of trees planted to prevent erosion.

Efforts also include building of bunds/tanks at strategic locations to provide for water throughout the year, and providing for ‘cattle ponds’ at strategic locations. Here is Srini, talking to Avinash and the CRPs, at one such cattle pond, which had been dug before the monsoon.

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Without co-operation from the local community, merely planting trees (even if the trees are monitored) is of no point whatsoever and is doomed for failure. It was, therefore, heartening to see the good equation that has been developed with the villagers; we were welcomed, we enjoyed seeing the children of the village playing.

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After the visit, the hospitable people gave us some delicious buttermilk to slake our thirst!

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We found that FES had planted Neem, Jamun,Indian Gooseberry, and other species of trees suited to the rocky, rain-starved environment. On our walk around the area, here are several beautiful creatures which we spotted, proving that the place is, indeed, a haven for all kinds of wildlife.

Lynx Spider

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Small Salmon Arab

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Robberfly

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Sirkeer Malkoha

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Oriental Garden Lizard male

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Oriental Garden Lizard female

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Catunaregam spinosa, or Mountain Pomegranate:

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Givotia rottleriformis, or the White Catamaran tree (Butti Mara in Kannada)

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As we walked back, a flight of Painted Storks overhead delighted us.

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In spite of the challenges, Grow Trees and FES seem to be making an impact with their work with the twin goals of afforestation and conservation.

Bird lists:

For Bhairasagara, click

here

For Kollimapalli, click

here

For Gulur Lake, which we visited on our way home, click

here

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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.

Ragihalli with Pramiti School, 190218

February 19, 2018

I took 16 children from

Pramiti School

to

Adavi Field Station

AFS. Adavi Field Station, Onte Maren Doddi, Ragihalli (Post), Anekal(Taluk), Bengaluru, Karnataka 560083

Here’s the view of the beautiful rock formations of Bannerghatta National Park from the road:

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Anand and Mahesh were very helpful. The farmer, Shivananja, showed us around his land, talking about how they use cowdung as manure since it is plentifully available (leaf litter is not specifically composted here).

Here is Sushma, discussing composting with Shivananja, Anand and Mahesh, with little Varsha, who had a slight fever and did not go to school, listening:

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Nupura

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and Tarun

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kept meticulous notes. We were also shown around, and we really did go around the mulberry bush!

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We saw how the silkworms feed on the mulberry leaves

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Mulberries when ripe are very sweet to eat, but it was not yet the season for them.

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Shivananja showed us one local variety of mulberry, not favoured now as the leaves are smaller and the foliage less dense.

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Here’s one worm, growing fat (the worms eat voraciously, growing many times in size, before pupating)

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Here is the pupa of the silkworm; the pupae are boiled alive to extract the silk.

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The farmers sell the live pupae, which are plucked from the palm-frond frames, directly. The boiling and reeling are done later. Here is a video I took long ago, of the stinking silk waste being picked up by Brahminy Kites:

The children settled down for the packed lunch that had been brought:

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The stuffed parathas were tasty.

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We returned back to the waiting van

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You can see the rest of the album

here

The highlights, for me, were spotting an old friend, Ashwath (second from left)

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a Black Eagle

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and a sports-car-bus:

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Crows using vehicles to crack seed pods! Ragihalli, 211017

December 5, 2017

I had read about how crows put nuts and seed pods in the way of approaching vehicles on roads and then eat the cracked nut.

here

is a very erudite study which does not rule out the possibility of crows using vehicles in this way, but suggests that they only drop the nuts on the road to crack them.

However, at the Ragihalli sheet rock area in the Bannerghatta National Park, on 21 Oct. ’17, we observed a Jungle Crow which definitely seemed to use the oncoming vehicles to crack the tamarind seeds that it was bringing, and then going to the road to eat the exposed soft tamarind.

Here’s the crow, which deliberately (and fearlessly) the crow leaves the seed pod and flies off only when the vehicle is almost upon it.

Here, the crow flies in after the vehicle has passed. You can clearly hear the excellent description of the crow’s behaviour by my friend Aishwary Mandal in the video.

Birding is not “ticking off” birds that we’ve seen…it’s also watching and learning more about the feathered creatures around us…sometimes they surprise us with what they do.

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

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.

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.