Posts Tagged ‘lj’

The Shieldtail…again, 161113

November 18, 2013

Some time ago, in Bannerghatta, I’d sighted the


which I’d posted about


On Saturday evening, I went to Nandi Hills with Naveen Toppo, his wife (and super bird-spotter) Pinky, and Sharmila Abdulpurkar. Walking along the path near Nehru Nilaya, we found some young men gently nudging something from the middle of the road on to the side, so that it would not be trodden or run over.

We went to investigate, and I found that it was, indeed, a Shieldtail.


The snake moved into some fallen leaves, and put its head into the soil. Ostrich-like, it felt that it was adequately covered, and stopped moving. (So there was no point in taking a video!)

The difficult-sounding name, “Uropeltidae” for these serpents is derived from the Greek words, “Uro” (tail) and “Pelte” (shield). This is because these snakes are characterised by the presence of the large keratinous shield at the tip of the tail. These snakes are not venomous.

They are supposed to have an exclusive diet of earthworms, but I cannot find anything on the net to substantiate this claim. However, they are reviled by farmers because of their alleged diet…earthworms, with their ability to dig through, and aerate, the soil, are farmer’s friends, and any creature that eats them is a farmer’s enemy! However, the wiki says they could also feed on other invertebrates (not specified…there can’t be too many studies on this.

In a way, these are blind snakes, because the eyes are small and dcovered by large polygonal shields.

I would like to id this one as the Elliot’s Shieldtail, because the Wiki entry says:

“They are found in southern India and Sri Lanka.[1] In India, their distribution is mainly along the hills of Western Ghats, and only one species, Elliot’s shieldtail, Uropeltis ellioti, has been reported from other areas such as Eastern Ghats and hills of Central India.”

Ganesh Raghunathan, a friend who was working at B R Hills at the time of my first sighting, told me, “We are seeing quite a few of them here at B.R hills in the past week. they were active and would push their tails hard to prick us when picked up.” So I didn’t try to touch the snake at all; in any case, it must have been distressed after having been handled by the young men, even though they were trying to help it, and probably did save its life from the passing traffic.

Another interesting thing about Shieldtails..they are ovoviviparous….All members of this family retain eggs that hatch within the body of the mother. Whether or not you can pronounce that word fast, this fact is fascinating…a mixture of laying eggs and having the young within the mother’s body!

Here’s a closer look at this not-commonly-found, amazing creation of Nature:


(You can clearly see the “shield tail” in this photo.)

We left the Shieldtail to the hills and the rainy evening, and came home, marvelling at the wonderful beings that populate our Earth.

Navaratri (Nine Nights) Festival over the years…

October 9, 2013

I used to have small “golu” every year, until my daughter left home. By that time, it was difficult to set it all up by myself, without anyone to appreciate it, and even worse to put it away…so I gave up the yearly practice. (My golu dolls still lie in a trunk in the attic of my flat.)

I just received email invitations to several friends’ homes here, and I fell to musing on the festival…and I thought of this song from the movie,”Navaratti”, where Sivaji Ganesan plays nine roles.

Though I am not parituclarly fond of this rather contrived song, it shows the traditons of a few decades ago.

Golu, or Kolu

Apparently, the word means, “divine presence”.



is a post of mine, with a photo I took of my friends’ golus.


is a post I made about Navami (Saraswati Puja, in Bengali, Sorosshoti Pujo).

And, finally,


is a post from my blog on Citizen Matters, with a lot of photos associated with the 10-day festival.

Happy Navaratri to all my friends who celebrate it! I will be visiting some friends here in St.Louis over the weekend, and will share the photos, too.

Friend on FaceBook? No way!

August 22, 2013

I got a message from Flora Williams, and since I wasn’t able to guage whether it was “genwine” or not, I replied, and asked her for more details. Now…you evaluate, from her reply:

“I am Miss Flora William,24yrs old from Freetown Sierra-Leone,the only child of Late Dr.David William who was killed by rebels when war broke-out in my country but my friends used to call me Miss Hope and i really love the name because i have hope that one day, i will be free from this place.I lost my parent and relatives during the war, but through the help of the UNITED NATION (UN) I was rescued and brought to Dakar Senegal refugee camp together with other surviving people.
My hobbies are,Swimming,dancing,cooking, meeting people, going to social activities, and also i like listening to good musics .I Will like to know more about you,your likes and dislike,your hubbies and what you are doing Presently. I will tell you more about myself and the main reason why i contacted you in my next mail.
As i told you earlier I am staying in a refugee camp.Staying here is more like a prison because we are restricted from doing or having some certain things here in the camp. This Refugee Camp is headed by a Rev. Father peter Johnson. He likes me so much to the point he call me his daughter,I do make use of his office computer to send email and i only enter his office when he is less busy. i wait to hear from you soonest.
kisses Flora William”

I am not planning to have anything further to do with the Flora of this species….call me cynical, call me hard-hearted….I am, ofkose, busy with my many hubbies….

I am RICH!!!

March 22, 2013

I was trying to locate some bird photos on my LJ, and suddenly got a “site stat:

click here to see it

I am worth “$530,469,282USD”.

No Nigerian ministers offering to pay me money! This is my very own! Bow before me, O inferior beings!

Revisiting an old post…

December 11, 2012



for a five-year old smile. Jayesh now has two more shops, one at Ananda Rao Circle, and another at Koramangala…. and is such a celebrity himself, that he didn’t recognize me when I went to buy the Sony camera 🙂

Listen to the train’s rhythm…

September 26, 2012

is making a long railway journey (Mumbai to Delhi) and suddenly remembered one line of what I googled up…and found a lovely poem:


Faster than fairies, faster than witches,
Bridges and houses, hedges and ditches;
And charging along like troops in a battle
All through the meadows the horses and cattle:
All of the sights of the hill and the plain
Fly as thick as driving rain;
And ever again, in the wink of an eye,
Painted stations whistle by.
Here is a child who clambers and scrambles,
All by himself and gathering brambles;
Here is a tramp who stands and gazes;
And here is the green for stringing the daisies!
Here is a cart runaway in the road
Lumping along with man and load;
And here is a mill, and there is a river:
Each a glimpse and gone forever!

Robert Louis Stevenson

I love poems like this which follow the rhythm of their subject..I remember, vaguely, another such poem where the stanzas start with a small, brisk rhythm of words..and then, the words and the rhythm lengthen, as the train pulls tiredly into the station…I wish I could get this poem.

Thoughts about marriage

September 6, 2012

I had made

this post

with a photograph of an astrolger’s board. When I posted a link to it recently, I got this reply from :

“Who started the institution called ‘Marriage’ I want to know? Can the Jothishi baba enlighten us?
“Baba & bloggers I have my own discourse on life’s troubles, hear me out, as its free of cost (like everything else which is useless.) Marriage is the root of all the troubles, eliminate it and live happily. No Marriage. No need of a steady job. Take up any employment to feed yourself you don;t need job security if you;re single. Formal education is the trump card played mostly during match making, you can always be a guitarist or a painter and be single for all the world that cares about Degree->Dowry match making. No marriage No Husband No wife, No court, no enemies! Can’t guarantee on sickness though, it might hit you anytime single, double or divorced & no mantra tantra can help you in that! & what’s that abroad?!! If you’re single you can live happily in India or Africa! Abroad is again linked to this whole NRI-marriage sham. Sorry baba but if people (Particularly middle-class Indians am refering to) had ‘gyan’ they would not have all these ‘issues’ and they would not need you in the first place.”

My response was:

“Seriously, I think marriage, as an institution, developed in the days when children were born not by choice….and their safety and care was paramount, along with that of the woman who cared for them and reared them. And since it is still the most stable relationship between two people (of any sex), it endures, so much so that many people in same-sex relationships want the bond of marriage. However, today, when some(but alas, nowhere near all) women have the choice of having children or not, and when many women have economic independence, perhaps marriage is less a desirable than it used to be…but women do seek a stable relationship for many reasons, so I don’t see marriage fading away any time soon. We also need the rites of passage that a wedding ceremony entails….”

INTACH Basavanagudi Heritage Walk, 020912

September 3, 2012

oclick here

to see the photos.

I will write an account of the lovely walk later…still not feeling entirely OK, so procrastination is the order of the day…well, not today, tomorrow, may be!

What I wrote to my birding group in Bangalore, today…

May 14, 2012

Some of the very common birds I see in Forest Park…..

The Brown-headed Cowbirds and their mates seem to be out, and the “treeeee!” call of the Red-winged Blackbird can be heard everywhere. Mockingbirds and the immigrants….the European Starlings with their bronze-green sheen, and the House Sparrows….are briging forth families. The American Robin (called Robin Redbreast in Britain) also has babies trailing along, chirping loudly for worms.

As I walk along Des Peres Creek, the Mallards and the Green Herons look up alertly at me in case I am coming to catch them. Several Kildeer are now to be seen on the grass along the banks…… A Snowy Egret quickly spears a fish, and takes it off. I go to watch the Great Horned Owls, but can see only the mother today….the other birds, such as the Common Grackle, also show their shining plumage, and as a bonus, I see the “Woody Woodpecker” Red-headed Woodpecker, at her nest:

The migratory warblers (they arrive in St.Louis in summer; alas, Missouri is not a hot-spot birding location, but it’s great for my level of ignorance!) show themselves here and there, and once in a while, I get a lovely video like this:

This kind of nature ramble is certainly not the stuff of National Geographic…but it’s my morning “battery recharger”, and I come home by 7am, ready to take on my daily duties, with a happy smile on my face, that lasts the whole day long. Just this morning, an elderly lady (er, I mean, MORE elderly than me!) smiled back at me and remarked, “It’s so nice to see a smiling face early in the morning.)

I watch the mink family in the creek, which I’ve been following from last year:

I can’t see any young ones now, I was very lucky last year, as my friend Danny Brown informed me!

Dear Subbu…thank you for inspiring me, with your descriptive post, to write this….and Zafar Saab, I want you to know that halfway around the world, when I joined the Audubon Society’s monthly bird-watching outing (exactly like our Lalbagh outing) this time, there were THREE people who knew about you, and were awed to think that I knew you personally.

Meme: “C”

March 22, 2012

I usually don’t do memes, but I actually asked Prashanth Chengi for one, and here goes, a letter of the alphabet, with which I must list 5 favourites….

1. Cream. I just love the top-of-the-milk, whipped cream…write “cream” on a piece of paper and I’ll eat that!

2. Carbon. I am fascinated by two of its forms…coal, and diamond, their essential oneness in spite of the incredible difference in their appearance…it’s a great metaphor for me.

3. Chemistry. Though I am not one for equations, the process of interaction of chemicals…and the way, at some point, they give rise to life…is wonderful.

4. Creatures. I enjoy watching all sorts of creatures…from a tusker to a tarantula. The world of living beings is full of marvels.

5. Cryptic Crosswords. I am hopelessly addicted to them.

C…PC….I’ve done the MM…sorry, the meme.