Posts Tagged ‘nature’

Hoskote kere, 220919

September 25, 2019

Email to Bngbirds:

The very first time I have changed the venue for a 4th Sunday walk! After getting the reports of Greater Flamingoes having landed at Hoskote lake, I felt it would be great if everyone were able to see this unusual sight. So I changed from the original venue (Bhutanahalli Pond and Suvarnamukhi temple in Bannerghatta NP) to Hoskote. But by Friday, we knew that “the birds had flown”…and all those who only wanted to come to see the Flamingoes, dropped out! But there was still a turn out of 50+ people on Sunday, disproving accusations of our being “twitchers”.

I usually find weather.com very accurate…but the morning of the 4th Sunday outing was one occasion when the forecast went completely wrong! As several of us gathered and drove to Hoskote, drops began dotting, and then streaming from, the windscreen. At the lake, we did try walking down the path…but the heavy rain had made a morass of it, and we found ourselves with clumps of mud on our shoes. So we decided that instead of the usual breakfast-after-birdng, we would reverse the order, and see if the birding got better a little later.
Here is my video of a few birders having breakfast…thanks to the rain, I could not get a group photo!

Off we went to Nandi Grand, and fortifying ourselves with hot food, we returned to the lake; The rain had certainly let up a little…and the lake truly lived up to its reputation of never disappointing. On the shore side, Munias and Swallows kept us clicking, and on the water, a Pied Kingfisher delighted us with its hovering, and vertical swoops into the water in search of a meal.

Egrets (all three kinds), Cormorants (again, all three), Grebes, Coots, Herons, and Painted Storks were active on the water, though the Spot-billed Pelicans still did not think it time enough to venture out from their “sitting room” on the far shore. A few hardy (and muddy!) souls did go down to the bamboo area and beyond, but most of us were able to sight quite a few birds from the bund. From under umbrellas and raincoat hoods, we looked at various drenched birds: Rose-ringed Parakeets, Sunbirds (which did not like being Rainbirds!) and Ashy Prinias (which wanted to be Dry Prinias).

But then, we also got some bonuses for having gone to the lake in spite of knowing that the Flamingos were Flamingone! A Grey Francolin sat, waiting out the rain, on a dry twig in the clutter; since we usually sight this bird scuttling away into the undergrowth, everyone had a good time, observing and clicking to their hearts’ content.
We then decided to try our luck on the field side, but only two cars had the courage to brave the muddy path down. We were rewarded by the sight of just one solitary Red Avadavat, and several Scaly-breasted and Tricoloured Munias, a Long-tailed Shrike and the sight of flocks of Glossy Ibis floating on to the lake.

The two cars were driven by (sounds like one of those Hindi Santa-Banta jokes!) Arun and Varun. Varun’s jeep, with its 4-wheel drive, made it safely back to the main road, and we were well on the way home when Sreyoshi called and told us that Arun’s car was stuck in the mud! We werel aas, too far away to return and help. But with the help of four local men, and with Chandu and Manpreet pitching in, the “Push”paka Vimana finally got free of the clutches of mud. They got a sighting of the Pied Cuckoo, as a reward!

On the way back, we stopped to observe the active nesting colonies of the Baya Weavers, and got a ringside seat to a domestic quarrel between Mr and Mrs Asian Koel. Well satisfied with our day, we went back, laughing at our damp but productive morning.

Though it was not a morning to watch butterflies, we still got some Grass Yellows, Common Mormons, Common and Crimson Roses, Emigrants, and a beautiful Common Lime in the field area. We also observed some handsome six-footers…wasps, ladybirds, jewel bugs, mating flies…and some eight-footers too, in the form of Orb Weavers and Crab Spiders. Several lovely wildflowers, nodding in the rain, were also beautiful…so there was enough to see and enjoy.
So…it was a very productive morning, in spite of the “Flamingone” and the rain!b

The eBird list, compiled by Chandu, is at
https://ebird.org/india/view/checklist/S60021164
(55 species)

My FB album is at
https://www.facebook.com/deemopahan/media_set?set=a.10156909705193878&type=3
and the Flickr album at

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Looking forward to the next outing,
Deepa.

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They Must Not Be Named!

September 12, 2019

Everyone tells us that they are harmless, we should not bother about them, and so on and on and on,until we are scared even to take their name…

I have travelled in the mountains
And waded in the beaches
But these creatures I can’t abide,
They are the…..

I take flights to far-flung places
Walk to remote river reaches.
But in rain and slush I look down.
I’m worried about those…..

“Travel light! Take much less!”
Every guide book teaches.
But I take with me socks, salt and spray,
To use on those pesky……

I may subsist on only bread
Or fruit…bananas and peaches
But I don’t want to donate my blood
To those thirsty, sucking……

They get into our tee-shirts,
They get into our breeches
We even found some on our necks,
Those horrid little……!

I’ll have to wash out all my socks
With detergent and bleaches
To get rid of the awful bloodstains
Left by those dirty…….!

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Ravugodlu, 4th Sunday Bngbirds outing, 250819

August 29, 2019

Email to the Bngbirds egroup:

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Since it was cloudy with a possibility of rain, I was quite heartened that 30 of us decided to join for the 4th Sunday Bngbirds outing. We were all quite punctual at the meeting point near the small Anjaneya shrine,

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and the two majestic Banyan trees; and a few Indian Grey Hornbills flying past, and the loud cheep-cheep of a Tailorbird started us off on the path.

Ravugodlu is one of the last semi-scrub forest patches

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that groups can be taken to, without having to go to various Forest Department offices to submit applications in triplicate, for permission (only to be told that you should have done this a week ago!) We enjoyed the scenery and the bluffs on the side of which lies the Ragihalli area. It was delightful to children like Saanvi and Aanvi (er, not related to each other…they just happen to have similar names!) join in, binoculars and note-books in hand.

A few Green Bee-eaters, and the ubiquitous Black and Brahminy Kites were in the air; the rains had ensured that the pond along the path was also full. Several yellow birds…Ioras and Oriental White-eyes

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…brought flashes of brightness to the cloudy atmosphere.

The group rather quickly straggled along the path and I was never sure whether all of us saw all the birds or not! The first sighting of a Shikra, and a Short-toed Snake Eagle, upped our raptor count; we looked it up in the bird book,

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to be sure.

At the pond, we found a solitary White-browed Wagtail, and a small blue jewel of a kingfisher flew about, trying to get breakfast.

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As we reached the part of the path which widens out into a flat area, with the hill slopes and rocks surrounding us, the sunshine finally broke through the clouds and promptly pushed up the temperature! Little Swifts and Palm Swifts swooped around overhead, as did Red-rumped Swallows. We were delighted to see large flocks of Rose-ringed Parakeets flying around into the mango orchard area, as they looked for nesting sites and foraged. These may be very common birds even in the urban setting; but their bright green plumage and red beaks add a lovely dash of colour to any birding outing!

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At the open area, those of us who reached first, brought out our snacks, and I am afraid, though not repentant, that I pigged out on a lot of stuff ( eg Mamta’s superb dhokla and the soy sticks from Haldiram.) Fruits, almonds, many crisp snacks from the recent Janmashtami festival…all were despatched with gusto!

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Though I expected at least half the group to catch up, many people had already left, so only a few people joined up with us. We looked up to see another raptor, and with my usual question mark hovering over my head, I was able to confirm it only later as a Bonelli’s Eagle.

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As we walked back, we looked at several other living creatures…the beauty of the crimson seed pods of the Indian Redwing;

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blooming wildflowers such as the Node Flower,

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Indian Cadaba,

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Coat Button, the Devil’s Coach Whip, Vishnukranti, Cyanotis; the children had great fun touching the Touch-me-not leaves! I was able to show people near me the seed pods of the Indrajao or Pala Indigo,

Several reptiles like the Garden Lizard

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and the Rock Agama

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kept us occupied. Spiders of all kinds…Lynx, Funnel Web, Orb Weavers, Social Spiders…truly wove a web of fascination for us. A little Dung Beetle added some metallic colour.

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We didn’t see too many butterflies, but a Crimson Rose, some Common Mormons, a Common Lime, Emigrants, Jezebels,a Common Baron

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and Grass Yellows which looked like little flitting blossoms in the grass and reeds, added their beauty to the scene. A grasshopper was beautifully camouflaged in the reeds.

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As we returned to our cars, we were suddenly treated to a magnificient finale to the outing…a Black Eagle

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swept past quite low, and had us walking off in its wake, hoping to have a better sight of it.

After this unexpected bonus, I am sorry to say that all the erudite scientific and nature discussions gave way to “Where shall we stop for breakfast?” and the Davangere Benne Dose eatery was the unanimous choice.

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A few of us enjoyed the crisp dose-s with the dollops of potato and butter,

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and with our tummies, minds,hearts (and possibly camera memory cards!) full, we dispersed back to our separate lives and weekend commitments.

Here is most of our group before the start of the walk:

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The eBird list is at

https://ebird.org/india/view/checklist/S59241149

(62 species…not a bad haul for a monsoon morning!)

I have put up my photos on a FB album at

https://www.facebook.com/deemopahan/media_set?set=a.10156844507918878&type=3

For the non-FB friends, the Flickr album is at

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A few of us went to the Bhutanahalli pond to observe the Baya Weaver nesting activity:

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Even here, there were several handsome six-footers to captivate us:

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Jewel Bug

IMG_0160 Sweet Potato Weevil
Sweet Potato Weevil

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Blister Beetle

IMG_0165 Tussock Moth Cat early instar
Tussock Moth caterpillar

Every outing is full of the wonders of the natural world!

Deepa.

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!

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

Nature Feature, July ’19: A doomed romance

July 16, 2019

This is butterfly season; you must have noticed these beautiful creatures fluttering past you, in the gardens and even on the roads, everywhere in the city. If you observe them carefully, you will find many moments of drama and tension!

One lesser-known fact about butterflies is that they hatch out of the pupa (it’s called eclosing) as fully mature adults; something I had to think about and accept, being only used to a progression of living beings from infanthood onwards to adulthood.

Because of this fact, sometimes, male butterflies try to mate with a female as soon as she’s emerged from her cocoon; but if the emergence is not complete, or faulty, the romance is doomed. I saw one instance of this at Hoskote Lake, recently.

Three-spot Grass Yellow : Feeding . . .

The butterfly I am featuring here is the Three-spot Grass Yellow, a very common butterfly in our gardens and fields. You can see a perfect speciman in the image above, nectaring on a common wildflower called the Devil’s Coach Whip (Stachytarpeta species)

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You can see the mating of the large butterfly with a much smaller one here. All butterflies need a period of rest after eclosing, to allow them to dry out their wings carefully, and then fly off to lead their lives.

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The female, to begin with, was rather small. The male did not, I think, allow her time to let her dry her wings; so they fluttered around, in obvious discomfort, for a bit. Then they separated, and the female, unable to fly with the wings that dried crookedly, fell to the ground.

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I carefully lifted her on to a leaf; I could not do any more, but had to leave her to her fate. I think her life in the wild would be very short without the ability to fly. This is the ruthless law of the survival of the fittest; if the butterfly is not healthy, it cannot survive and thus produce less than healthy offspring.

It reminded me, sadly, of the many young girls in our cruel world, who are attacked and abused; their wings, too, are broken, and they bear the scars of such incidents forever. Nature is not always kind or beautiful; it takes some effort to accept how relentless life, and death, can be.

Glory Lily, Bhootanahalli,130719

July 15, 2019

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I got the bud, the bloom, and the fading flower.
I got the childhood, the prime of youth, and the departing hour.

The butterfly dirge

July 2, 2019

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Rounded Pierrot

When I started looking
At lovely butterflies,
I felt that very soon I’d be
Lepidopterally wise.

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Pointed Ciliate Blue

From Albatross to Zebra Blue
I thought it was a cinch
But the butterfly alphabet
Is killing me, inch by inch.

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Dark Grass Blue

First came the Blues, and blues were what
These Lycaenids cast me into.
Even Grass Blues are Lesser and Tiny…
Pale and Dark forms, too!

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Anomalous Nawab

Another colour, the Yellow, this time,
Cast my life in further doubt.
Three-spotted, Spotless, Common, more….
I knew not what I was about.

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Spot Swordtail

The Rings put all my mathematics
And basic numbers to shame.
Alas, a Common Four-ring
And a Five-ring often look the same!

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Danaid Eggfly

Brown was a colour I felt at ease with…
Until it was preceded by “Bush”.
Trying to find out which one it was
Reduced my brain to mush.

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Golden Angle

Then came the procession
Of the scientific names;
The dry and wet-season forms,
The gentlemen, and the dames.

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Yellow Orange-tip

Under all this profusion
Of names and facts, I groan
The only butter fly I am sure of
Is when Amul or Vijaya is thrown!

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Lilac Silverline

There could be birds verse than this…

June 16, 2019

I expected an Egret
But I had no regrets
At seeing a Heron Black-crowned.
Though everyday birds
May usually fill my words
It’s good when the unusual is found!

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It was the June 3rd Sunday outing of Bngbirds and a gathering of members of the Telegram group, Bangalore Wildlife Friends. We sighted 20 birds and we were 61 people!

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