Posts Tagged ‘karnataka’

Bngbirds 4th Sunday outing: Jakkur Kere, 280719

August 1, 2019

Email to Bngbirds egroup:

Jakkur Lake, in the northern part of what is now “Bruhat (Greater) Bangalore”, is a waterbody which has many birds both resident and visiting, so I decided to make it the destination for the July outing. It seems to be popular with a lot of birders, too, and more than 40 of us (about 20 more people joined after I clicked the group photo below)

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met at the peepal tree where we usually go to see the roosting Alexandrine Parakeets.

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I was delighted to find that there were many children present too.

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Abir using his binoculars

That morning, however, was cloudy and overcast, and perhaps because of this, the Parakeet numbers were very low…not more than 3 or 4 at at time flew in, and even these did not stay long on the tree as they usually do. However, many people in the group had not seen these birds before, and even the sight of one or two of them, silhouetted against the monsoon gloom, was enough to make them quite happy. We also spotted some Flowerpeckers in the bushes nearby (though the entire area seems to have been cleared for yet more construction) and Ashwin pointed out a Pied Kingfisher flying across, no doubt to an appointment with breakfast.

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Binoculars out!

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Red-rumped Swallow.

Having also watched several of what I call “CKMP” (Crows, Kites, Mynas and PIgeons…the most common birds in the Bangalore skies!)

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A Brahminy Kite shows its wings and prey.

We once again explained that the common raptors were kites and not “Eagles”, we went to the main entrance of the lake, and entered.

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Pea Blue.

Though I was certainly happy at the large turnout, the disadvantage of large numbers was immediately apparent, as the group straggled out, and it was impossible to share information about the birds, trees, insects and plants with any but those who were near me.However, I had already introduced a contingent of very experienced “north Bangalore birders” …I would like to express my appreciation that so many people associated with eBird (well, OK, Bird Count India!) and some expert naturalists/birders made it for the outing Two birding scopes added to the experience of the participants, many of whom are new to birding.

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Suhel shows some young birders how to use the birding scope.

Ashwin, Harsha, Mittal, Payal, Subhadra, Suhel…you are not people I get to go birding with often, and it was a bonus! All of the experienced birders shared sightings and information with whoever was near them.

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Instead of a Spotted Owlet, we got a Spotted Dove!

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Senegal Golden Dartlet (Damselfly).

We found lots of Spot-billed Pelicans, Black-headed Ibis, and Grey Herons roosting in the central island;

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Birds in the central island

Little Grebes, Eurasian Coots (so aptly called “Naamada Pakshi” in Kannada, because of the white “naama”-like mark on their foreheads!) and Purple Swamphens could be seen along the shallows, with Pond Herons punctuating the shore. Little and Great Cormorats, and a couple of Darters, flew overhead. A lone mongoose ran along the opposite shore, disappearing in a trice, Several “Jakkur Lake regulars” like Venkat Mangudi and R Venkatesh, took us to a mango and jamun orchard

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The magnificient trees in the orchard reminded me of the avenue at Hulimangala.

adjacent to the lake, where a few more Parakeets, both Rose-ringed and Alexandrine, rewarded us. However, of the Spotted Owlets and the Mottled Wood Owl which are often sighted here…there was no sign! A Rufous Treepie, and our state bird, the Indian Roller

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gave us “darshan”, and we returned to the lake bund.

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Datura, a poisonous plant.

Out came some snacks.

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The masala peanuts which I brought, and a variety of biscuits, kept our tummies from growling too loudly. By this time, I realized that I could see very few people from the original group; so I collected some people who were interested, and we went to see the 10th century inscriptions, one mentioning Jakkur,

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which have been placed at the

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Byre Gowda Ranga Mandira, a public open-air theate space nearby. I explained, as best I could, about the “veera gallu” or hero stone, which depicts the “atma balidaana”

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or self-sacrfice by a king, being a ritual beheading with his own sword, as a token of gratitude to the deity.

Musing on both the birds and our history and heritage, some of us adjourned to New Krishna Sagar (another recommendation by Venkat!)

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Common Baron mud-puddling in front of New Krishna Sagar.

and then back to daily life.

I’ve put up my photos on an FB album,

here

And for the many non-FB users, on a Flickr album,

here
The eBird list for the morning is at https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S58517024

I have shared the list with those whose ids I have; if anyone wants me to share it with them, they can send me their eBird ids or email ids that they use on eBird.

Looking forward to meeting many of you in August…and thank you for the many words of appreciation about my write-ups and blogposts!

The Oleander Hawk Moth in verse….

July 25, 2019

Two highly-qualified friends, Rachit and Shubham, were debating about whether the photo of a moth posted on the group we all belong to, was “Daphnis nerii” or “Daphnis hypothous”.

In gratitude, I posted a little doggerel about the scientific name, in a lighter vein….

It may be Daphnis nerii or hypothous…
It makes no difference to mostofous.
More general is our talk:
It’s “Moth, Oleander Hawk”…
We have no other theory or hypothesous!

Here’s the beautiful moth:

Un id moth casa ansal 221007//embedr.deepamohan/assets/client-code.js

The itinerant religious singer, Bhutanahalli, 170619

June 18, 2019

I clicked this photo of an itinerant religious singer, with my young friend Prem, while we were watching the Baya Weavers at Bhutanahalli koLA (pond):

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Since he was singing about the maleficient god Shaniswara (the planet Saturn), I clicked him in front of the shrine:

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I also saw Krishnaveni’s husband and her son Punith (they run Ravisutha Hotel, where we generally have chai and brefus when we are birding in the area) give alms to the singer:

I posted on FB and asked if such a singer would have a specific name, and got a very detailed reply from Rajpal Navalkar:

“This one is Kamsale. Most of them can be found in North Karnataka. In Maharashtra, too, we have these semi classical and even classical Buas (called Bauls in Bengal) who go around singing Bhajans and Bhavageet.”

He went on to add, in detail:

Religious singers are of five groups: (1) Kamsale (2) Neelagaru (3) Chowdike
(4) Gorava (5) Gane.

Professional religious singers sing only those songs which concern their chosen gods, pilgrim centres and temples. Their main purpose is to propagate the supremacy and philosophy of their particular religion to inculcate values and norms in the community. Professional singers are characterised by traditional colourful costumes and conspicuous musical instruments. They command great respect and take active participation in all the religious celebrations of their community.

(1) Kamsale

Kamsale: ‘Kamsale’, popularly known as ‘Devadraguddas’ are the disciples of Lord Madayya. ‘Kamsale Mela’ is a popular folk song which deals with the history of ‘Mahadeshwara’ (the presiding deity of Malai Mahadeshwara or MM Hills, a renowned pilgrim centre, situated in Mysore district).

The name ‘Kamsale’ is derived from the traditional musical instrument. It is a unique musical instrument consisting of two bronze plates. The bronze cymbal is in the form of a cup with a broad base. The other plate is a flat structure with a tassel tied in the centre. The cup is held in the left hand and with the help of the tassel the flat plate is held in the right hand and the singer clashes both of them rhythmically during the performances.

‘Kamsale’ singers sing either individually or in a group. when in group, this form becomes a mela and consists of three members. The main performer plays the ‘Kamsale’ instrument, supported by two artistes in the background playing an instrument-the ‘Dammadi’ and the ‘Yekatari’-single-stringed musical instrument. The performance consists of narration by the chief singer, who pauses in between to interpret the story. The Kamsale artists do not wear any traditional costumes.

Their dressing is simple, they wear ‘Rudraksha’ beads, which is their religious emblem, and carry a satchel. They are illiterates and have no printed literature. They learn those songs orally. They participate in fairs, which are held in Mahadeshwara hills during ‘Diwali’, ‘Shivaratri’ and ‘Ugadi’ festivals and are found extensively in Mysore, Mandya and Bangalore districts of the state.

Thank you for all the information, Rajpal. Just a few minutes of that song had so much of a story behind it! Here’s some more of the KamsALe, with more of dance:

How different birders would describe the same outing….

October 13, 2018

On World Migratory Bird Day, three of us went to Hulimavu Lake. We were hoping to sight the Greater Painted Snipes and the Indian Eagle Owls. When I returned home, it struck me that different kinds of birders would have different perspectives on the morning…so here are three diametrically different versions that a “focus” birder and a “hobby” birder would give!

The “tick” birder

We sighted several Pelicans but we could not see even a single Snipe. We then went to Hulimavu hillock but there again, only one of the Eagle Owls showed itself very briefly. Altogether a disappointing morning. Hope to get to see these two birds soon.

The “click” birder

We went to Hulimavu kere to try and sight the Greater Painted Snipes that had been so easily seen when Vidhya took the group on a birding walk on October Bird Day. However, the mist soon obscured the sun to the point where we could not even see the far shore of the lake. The lack of light proved a big hindrance as we could not take clear shots even of the many Pelicans and Herons we saw on the lake, The mist made even the sun appear like the moon and the colours were very muted because of it. We could use our cameras very little, and went home without many satisfactory shots.

The “pick” (whatever one wants to see and observe) birder

We went to Hulimavu kere to try and sight the Greater Painted Snipes that had been so easily seen when Vidhya took the group on a birding walk on October Bird Day. However, the mist soon obscured the sun to the point where we could not even see the far shore of the lake. It was quite magical to see more than a hundred Spot-billed Pelicans dotted over the lake, later coalescing into a fairly large pod. A few other migrants like a juvenile Rosy Starling, a Brown Shrike, a and lots of Barn Swallows swooping around, kept our eyes glued to the binoculars. The sighting of the Eagle Owl was brief but Robins, Bee-eaters and other birds practiced their ground exercises and their aerobatics. It was delightful to see a single Brahminy Myna amongst the Common Mynas on the Jamun tree. We wound up with the wonder of about a hundred Barn, Red-rumped and Streak-throated Swallows in a huge flock. We observed several insects, wildflowers, plants, and the lives of the people living near the lake shore.

Well, sometimes we are a combination of all three!

My eBird list is

here

(not a bad haul for a “focus” dip on the Snipe!)

And I’ve put up photos on my FB album at

here

Looking forward to the next outing, already!

Here are a few photos (not only birds) from my Flickr album (clicking on any of the photos will take you to the album.)

Sunrise:

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High-rise with its “head in the clouds”:

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Shyleaf, a fodder plant:

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“Washington”, where laundry is dried:

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“Washington Echo”, about a kilometre away, where the sound of the clothes being slapped on the stones echoes from the granite bluff:

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Flies:

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Pea Blue:

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Red-wattled Lapwing:

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Pied Paddy Skimmer:

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Streaked Weaver:

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Swallows on the wire:

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Jai with our food at Sri SLV Bhavan: Neer dosa and khara baath.

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Mist on the lake:

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The beauty of Kasavanahalli kere, 021018

October 3, 2018

I’m just posting some shots of the beauty of the lake, as the rain-washed sunlight and the fleecy clouds were reflected in the water where waterlilies were growing. I thought of Monet’s paintings when I saw the waterlilies…

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Let me end with this surreal image of fishes “kissing” under water:

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Turahalli State Forest, 180918

September 27, 2018

Warning, contains images that may be disturbing.

The Bangalore skyline from Turahalli

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Post to the bngbirds egroup:

Today was the fourth time in a few days that I went to Turahalli. After Vijetha Sanjay discovered the patch of the carnivorous plant, Drosera burmannii (Sundew plant), I have taken friends to see the plant; they have all been surprised by how tiny it is!

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Today was the first weekday that I have been to Turahalli in a while. As we climbed the path to the Muniswara temple, we heard the temple bells being rung and some chanting too. What, however, the three of us were unprepared for, was to have four chickens beheaded and their bodies thrown in front of us, twitching as they bled to death.

The family offering the worship included young children; they were obviously inured to this, and everyone seemed quite matter-of-fact about it.

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Sacrifice is a part of many rituals of worship, and I cannot presume to judge such customs. But being completely unused to it, it was very unsettling indeed. Even more upsetting was seeing the head of one of the birds lying amongst the flowers offered for worship.

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So if anyone is not used to watching such customs, please do not go up to the temple on a Tuesday, as it seems to be the day for such sacrifices. I have never, in all my years of visiting Turahalli, seen this before.

However, the rest of our outing was very pleasant indeed. The patch of the carnivorous plants was rewarding, as was the brightly-coloured male Red Avadavat which seems to sit regularly on some dried trees near the top of the hillock.

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Several kind of insects,spiders and flies showed us their beauty. Four Southern Birdwings flashed their bright yellow and black as they flew overhead near the Eucalyptus trees. A Pale Grass Blue opened up the blue as it repeatedly sat on the freshly-fallen petals of the Cassia senna.

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Spotted Dove
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A dog near us charged at a young peacock, which flew up into the Eucalypus and afforded us a shot.

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A young family who’d brought a professional photographer (and a plastic sign saying “BABY GIRL”) to capture their daughter’s infant moments, kept yelling at her to look at the camera. (“IL NODU, PUTTA!”) Patient for a while, she finally started her own bit of yelling when she was made to put on a pair of blue plastic butterfly wings and a blue antenna headband!

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Such lilttle vignettes kept us quite happy as we slowly wended our way back, and went home after a nice hot coffee at SLV Coffee, where the ever-smiling Triveni was working as hard as usual.

A fly:

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Blister Beetle with pollen from the Stachytarpeta flowers:

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I have put up the photos from the outing

here

and the Flickr album is

here

And have made a short video of the wonderful “pot” entrance that the ants were making to their nest:

Also rather struck by the exponential growth in the human habitation in the less-than-ten-years I have been visiting Turahalli, I made a quick video of the skyline:

The eBird list is

here

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

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.