Posts Tagged ‘lakes’

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

September 12, 2019

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

Day 1, 020919, Blr-Guwahati:

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Fisherman at Deepor Beel

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Yellow Helen at Deepor Beel

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

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Grey Pansy, Kirtti Inn

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Crimson Sunbird, Kirtti Inn

Day 3, 040919, Itanagar, journey to Ziro

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Sonku and her son Ranka

Day 4, 050919, Ziro to Pange WLS

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

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Tytler’s Multicolored Flat

Day 5, 060919, Pange WLS

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Bhutan Glory

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Juvenile Dark-sided Flycatcher

Day 6, 070919, Pange WLS to Ziro

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

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

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

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View of Old Ziro from Ziro Point

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Lunch at Potin, on the way to Itanagar

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

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Moving furniture

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Blue-tailed Bee-eater

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Doddakallasandra Kere, 3rd Sunday Bngbirds outing, 180819

August 18, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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with Little Grebes looking bright in their breeding plumage.

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Spot-billed Ducks and Little Grebes.

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

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

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and a Scoliid Wasp

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kept us entranced.

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

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

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

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

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

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

We started birding here:

https://goo.gl/maps/WzqPpuGCu4vnRoZg8

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

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

I have put up my FB album at

and for non FB friends, a Flickr Album at

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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!

Two views…of me

July 25, 2019

At Begur Panchalinga Nageswara Temple, I was taking copious notes to help me make a blogpost about my visit, when I was clicked by Dr M B Krishna (affectionately called MBK).

Here is the “regular” photo.

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He then “artified”it on his mobile software:

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I must say, I like both!

Asian Waterfowl Census, Hoskote kere, 130119

January 15, 2019

It’s always a tug-of-war on the second Sunday of every month. I have learnt a lot on the Lalbagh walks, but since I am generally committed to the 3rd and 4th Sunday walks, I do like to go to other birding spots with my friends. Well, on the 13th of January, the tug was decided by the fact that the Asian Waterfowl Census, or AWC ) is on, and we could contribute data and pretend to be very scientific, while following the experts around and getting to see a lot of birds! So off we went to Hoskote kere, after MCS (Mandatory Chai Stop) on the way.

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MCS, ITI Bus Stop. Note Vidhya’s gloves!

The group was not as large as I’d expected, but this lack of numbers was more than made up for, by the number of species sighted! I am not one for numbers, but definitely, between waterfowl, winter migrants, and woodland birds, we were able to sight, and observe the behaviour of, several species of birds.

We carefully turned into the toll-avoiding opening and proceeded down the bund of the lake. We opened our account with a White-throated Kingfisher and a Common Hawk-cuckoo sitting on the wire, out in the open.

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The fog had lifted by the time we got to the temple, and the first pale rays of sunshine showed several Spot-billed Pelicans,

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Painted Storks,

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Cormorants and Grebes on the waters.

There were two scopes on hand, and this certainly helped many of my friends, who are still new to birding, to do some Spotting of their own, apart from the bills of the pelicans and the ducks! A Pied Kingfisher hovered over the water and dove in now and then, looking for a quick breakfast.

The “spotting” extended to the far side, the scope enabled us to look at a Greater Spotted Eagle, as well as three Marsh Harriers. perched on the bare trees, and occasionally sweeping over the water, alarming all the other birds. It was delightful to see a Common Kingfisher and a Wagtail apparently enjoying a boat ride. We don’t often see birds boating!

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On the far side, thanks to the scope, the indistinct blobs resolved themselves into Garganeys, Shovellers, and Pintails too.

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Capparis flowers (Caper)

We walked down to the path into the lake from the Gangamma temple,

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Gangamma, the deity at the lake.

and Grey and Purple Herons, pods of pelicans fishing, Yellow Wagtails

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living up to their name with their bobbing tails, two Wood Sandpipers having a face-off (territory? food? We didn’t know),

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some Common Sandpipers flying with their white rumps showing. A Glossy Ibis gleamed in coppery sheen in the now strong morning sunlight,

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and we were able to make out the difference between Streak-throated, Barn, and Red-rumped Swallows in a birding id practical lesson.

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Streak-throated (L) and Barn (R) Swallows.

A Sand Martin (Common, Krishna Murthy told us) also put in an appearance. Another good comaprison study was of the three Egrets…
Little, Intermediate, and Great…It was like watching the Grimmskipp page come alive! It was lovely to see the Swallows making musical scores on the wire. I believe someone did, once, set the swallows-on-the-wire to music!

We brought out our snacks and biscuits, and stoked up enough calories to let us carry on well past the usual breakfast hour.

We then walked back up the road, doing the other part of the lake adjoining the path, and were rewarded by the sight of both the Grey-bellied Cuckoo

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and the hepatic morph, which is generally female.

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I looked at a non-singing Jerdon’s Bushlark, and a Common Hoopoe (no longer common, either) A (probable) Booted Eagle gave us a fly-past finale.

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Bee covered with pollen, on Ipomoea flowers

Not having realized just how much time had gone by, we decided to go to Sendhoor Cafe in Ulsoor, and our greed was rewarded by the fact that it was noon when we reached there, and everything was sold out! We should just have eaten at one of the two darshinis at the lake! Well, we managed to eat at the Second Choice Darshini (Kadamba, opposite Frank Anthony School) and went home, very happy with our productive morning.

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Utsava murthy of Gangamma.

The eBird list, a very impressive one, put up kindly by Praveen, is at

https://ebird.org/india/view/checklist/S51618715

I’ve put up photos on an FB album at

https://www.facebook.com/deemopahan/media_set?set=a.10156336753578878&type=3

And on a Flickr album at

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You can see I really concentrated on the bird count this time as there are just a couple of wildflowers and one spider in the album..and no butterflies at all!

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Most of the participants, at the end of the census.

It’s Monday and I am already looking forward to the next weekend!

Kaikondrahalli Kere: 4th Sunday outing of Bngbirds, 231218

December 25, 2018

Email to Bngbirds:

Where is the winter in Bangalore? Alas…. it seems to last only until the sun gathers power in the mornings! But in spite of the rather strong sunshine, several of us had a very enjoyable morning at Kaikondrahalli (or Kaikondanahalli…it’s spelt both ways at the lake!) on the 4th Sunday outing, on 23rd Dec, 2018.

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KrishnaVirat, Chandu, Shubha, Subramanyam,Tarachand, Imtiaz, Mamta, Gopinath, Jagan, Rakshith, Mandar (with Srushti), Kalyani. Kaikondrahalli kere, 231218. Sushmitha and Shankar joined us later.

We started on the path watching the Spot-billed Pelicans, Little Grebes, Little and Great Cormorants, and Spot-billed Ducks doing their “ducking” as they hunted for food. A White-throated Kingfisher arrived in a flash of cobalt blue and sat quietly at the edge of the bridge. Several Black-headed Ibises flew out, perhaps in search of the next water body.

Walking along, I showed everyone the various medicinal plants and trees that have been planted along the northern edge of the lake (along Sarjapura Road). Soon, the latecomers also caught up, and we looked at Sunbirds, Flowerpeckers, and Warblers flitting around the trees. The butterflies were not out, but a Bush Hopper on a (what else?) bush caught Chandu’s eye, and we looked at the small creature carefully.

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As we neared the halfway mark, Painted Storks,

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some Asian Openbills, and a large number of Grey Herons and just a lone Purple Heron caught our attention on the central island. Mamta, a very experienced birder from Bhubaneswar who is visiting her daughter, was helpful in spotting the Small Blue Kingfisher. Kalyani spotted a White-cheeked Barbet on the Ficus, but it took the rest of us several minutes to see it!

I was dismayed to see a notice proclaiming the construction of a Chamundeswari temple, asking for donations of bricks and cement,next to the fence. But I guess there is little we can do about it, as the marshy area (where we spotted a couple of Sandpipers) will be dumped on and filled up.

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Some of us actually clicked the Greater Spotted Eagle under the impression it was a Black Kite…it soon took off, mobbed by those can’t-get-along-with-any-other-bird crows. But we soon watched a reverse drama in the air, as a Black Kite chased a crow which had secured some food. In the fray, it seemed as if neither bird got to eat the morsel!

We watched a Two-tailed Spider, and observed how well-camouflaged it was against the bark:

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Drongos, as usual, swooped and called. We were delighted to see a Golden Oriole,

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and several Brahminy and Chestnut-tailed Starlings

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A few Rosy Starlings too:

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as we approached the rookery where the Cormorants nest in season.

It is very heartening to see children on the walk. Young Srushti (whose nickname is “Dolphin”!) , the daughter of Kalyani and Mandar, proved to be very knowledgeable about birds, and it was a pleasure showing her other creatures, like tent and orb web spiders. Krishna Virat, also quite experienced with birds, came along with his father, Chandu Bandi, who was a great help in spotting birds and showing them to the group.

Here are three birds in one frame, Little Egret, Spot-billed Duck, and Little Cormorant:

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Mamta and I shared our biscuits and orange segments with everyone,

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and we walked on beyond the Butterfly corner, which seems, once again, to be in sad shape. However, some Plain Tigers and Common Jezebels were found a little further on. Brahminy Kites, both adult and juvenile, soared overhead.

There was a lot of activity in the tall Eucalyptus near the rest rooms, with Warblers and White-eyes flitting around, and a Purple Sunbird flashing its metallic plumage in the sunlight.

A Praying Mantis on Mandar’s clothes delighted us for a while.

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We managed to see a Spotted Dove, and a Shikra gave us a fitting flypast to end our outing. Some of us adjourned to South Inn for a hearty breakfast

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and dispersed, well-pleased with what we had seen, and observed.

the eBird list is

here

the FB album is

here

and the Flickr album is

here

Here’s a short video of a Cormorant drying its wings while still swimming!

This was the last Bngbirds walk for 2018, and I take the opportunity of wishing everyone a very merry Christmas if they celebrate it, or a happy holiday if they don’t…and all the best for a prosperous 2019!

Cheers, Deepa.

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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Weeds? 131018

October 13, 2018

If I have a garden, it will be full of weeds;

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Plants that thrive on neglect, and spring forth fast from seeds.

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I do not have the patience that a delicate garden needs…

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So my weed garden would grow and thrive with no gardening deeds!

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All these are wild flowers, from “weeds” that grew along the path as I walked at Hulimavu Lake today. They seem very beautiful to me!

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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International Vulture Awareness Day (IVAD), Ramnagara, and Nelligudde kere, 010918

September 6, 2018

had nearly forgotten that the first Saturday of September is International Vulture Awareness Day; a reminder jogged my memory, and my friends and I shelved our Maidanahalli plans for a visit to Ramadevara betta (hillock), to see the only known roosting and nesting spot of the Long-billed Vultures in Karnataka. The Karnataka Vulture Conservation Trust, in collaboration with the Karnataka Forest Department, had organized a walk to see the vultures, and talks by experts, an event open to all.

We were a group that started from the south, north, and east of the city, and met up at the gates of the Vulture Sanctuary, by 6.15am.’

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UGS. Gopinath, Nikhil, Arpitha, Sriram, Sharmila, Keerthana, Subhadra,Harish, Vijay, Tara, Arnab, Anisha,Sahas, Nitin, Regin. Kneeling with Arjun : Praveen and Srini. Ramnagara, 010918

Many of my friends were visiting Ramnagara (Ramnagaram? I am not sure which is the right name) for the first time, so, having driven just past the entrance gates, we parked our cars,

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and clambered up on the rock face (slippery, alas, from the recent rains!)

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and looked up at the vultures that could be seen (three of them at that time).

The single one:

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And two sitting together (they mated a little later)

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After looking our fill at the birds, which were preening, we also climbed up the hill to the gate of the temple, and went up a little towards the temple,

hoping to sight the beautiful Yellow-throated Bulbul which is another resident of the betta. We were lucky to sight just one, upon a rock!

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We had not realized that this date coincided with a festival at the Rama temple upon the hillock; we were not sure if the increased number of visitors was just due to its being a weekend, until we saw the idols of the deities, Rama, Lakshmana, Seeta and Anjaneya, being taken in a palanquin (on a modern tractor!) in procession, up the hill. The vulture finds a place in the epic poem, Ramayana, the story of the ideal man, Rama. Jatayu, the vulture, finds Rama’s wife Seeta being abducted by Ravana, the king of Lanka, and fights valiantly to save her, until the ten-headed Ravana cuts off his wings. He falls, fatally wounded, to the ground. When Rama and Lakshmana come upon him, he recounts all that has happened to them, before giving up his life. Here upon the rocky boulders of Ramadevara betta, the old story somehow took on colorful life as I watched the trio of deities and their faithful attendant Hanuman, wending their way to the temple, bejewelled and bedecked with flowers.

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Closeup of the adorned idols

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We watched the posters for the Vulture Awareness Day being put up,

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and after meeting up with Mike and Chris, when they came to the viewing area, we were also able to glimpse the ungainly-on-the-ground and graceful-in-the-air birds with the help of the scope that Mike set up for everyone.

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Many of us also saw the Long-billed Pipit for the first time…so birds with long bills seemed to be the order of the day!

We had left the city by 4.30am and by this time, in spite of the snacks we shared, the call of the white-breasted iddli was quite loud in our ears! So off we went to Sahasa Kala Shiksana Kendra (Centre for training in martial arts) where the event is held every year. After the pouring rain of last year, it was very pleasant to have the sun shining, and patches of blue sky appearing amidst the grey monsoon clouds.

We lined in an orderly queue and partook of a piping hot and delicious breakfast,

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and with our mental and physical batteries recharged, settled down to the proceedings.

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One of the star attractions, of course, was a White-rumped Vulture attending…or at least, an actor wearing a very well-made costume of the bird! Many of the young men present had a fun time with the “bird”, which was the mascot for the event. I would like to know who created the marvellous costume!

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These young men took the “help the vultures” message very seriously!

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It was also heartening to see how many people had made it to the event. I must mention the Forestry College in Sirsi, which always sends its students, I have interacted with them several times, at several venues (also at Kaiga) and found many of them knowledgeable about conservation issues. Several of the people who have worked untiringly to have the area declared as a vulture sanctuary, including Dr Subramanya, also took their places on the stage, and shared what the vultures mean to the ecosystem, and the history of the decline of these birds, along with the efforts made to save them from extinction. Cadets, schoolchildren, nature lovers from near and far…we all listened to the inputs being given, and took our certificates of participation.

Some of us decided to go back and see if we could get shots of the vultures flying off from the cliff, and were successful. Some of us also stopped over at Bidadi to visit the Nelligudda lake.

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Apart from an edging of the now-to-be-expected trash, which included a dead fish,

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the lake was a serene setting,and under the shade of two gigantic banyan trees, a cool breeze blew.

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Several waterfowl, including two Woolly-necked Storks,

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kept our binoculars and lenses busy; sighting two mongoose in the fields added to our delight. Both Brahminy and Black Kites dived repeatedly into the water, fishing for food. By this time, several butterflies had also emerged, and we watched as they flitted around us, too.

Grass Dart:

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Some reptiles came out to bask on the rocks.

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Well satisfied with the morning, we drove rather sleepily back to the city, making plans about whether to go birding the next morning or to spend it getting back into the good books of our families!

I have put up my photos on my FB album
here

And for other photos on the Flickr album, click

here

Our grateful thanks to the organizers of the event, which we intend to support every year, come September!

Cheers, Deepa.

Let me end with the beauty of this mushroom!

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