Posts Tagged ‘nature’

Rabbit’s ears!

November 19, 2020

Another unusual plant! At Prani pet sanctuary, I found this beautiful plant and its flowers growing in a corner, near one of the cages. Not being able to find a match, I asked Arun for help, as usual. He seems to know not only the plants native to India,but of other countries, too,because he promptly gave me the id as Ruttya fruitcosa, called Jammy Mouth, or Jembekkie…native to Africa! (See the Wiki entry link below.)

I wonder how a single plant came to be growing in a pet sanctuary in Karnataka…perhaps one of the animal’s droppings contained the seed.The stories of the plants I find may not always be known, but they are intriguing.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruttya_fruticosa

IMG_8131

Another common name for this plant is… Rabbit Ears!

Update: My friend Akhilesh Sharma says he has it in his garden, so I realize it is a garden plant.

Jaraganahalli/Sarakki Lake, 101120

November 14, 2020

Email from me to Bngbirds:

Hi everyone!

Sri K S Bhat,

IMG_7907

who has been working on rejuvenating Jaraganahalli/Sarakki Lake, invited me to come and take some volunteers around the lake. Several people from Elita Promenade, Brigade Millenium…and from many other parts of tthe city (as far away as Cooke and Fraser Town!) also joined.

Some of us having our Mandatory Chai Stop (MCS):

IMG_7891

A few of us at the start of the walk:

IMG_7906

On the path:

IMG_7914

The trash outside the lake entrance is still very bad, but I can see the lake coming back to life under the stewardship of this 83-year-old gentleman and his team of volunteers, who have overcome a lot of obstacles.

IMG_7911

I was heartened to see the good water quality and we noted the presence of pelicans, painted storks and spot-billed ducks, amongst a variety of other birds.

Little Grebe:

IMG_7913

Great Cormorants fishing:

IMG_7915

Grey Heron and Little Egret:

IMG_7920

Purple Swamphen:

IMG_7922

Cattle Egret:

IMG_7936

Spot-billed Duck:

IMG_7937

Polygonum species, a wild-growing acquatic plant:

IMG_7929

Ladybird:

IMG_7927

(The eBird list, 55 sp, is at https://ebird.org/checklist/S76144871)

A lot of trees have been planted (Ficus, Jamun, and so on) and existing Pongaemia and Arjuna trees have been retained. The Elita Promenade wall has a lot of Akasha Mallige, Teak and Silver Oak trees too. Sri Bhat wanted to have an aviary for young children, but I told him that having captive birds was not a good idea. He also wants a butterfly garden, and I told him to get in touch with butterfly experts for the latter, and will be putting him in touch with them.

We listened to the various trials and tribulations Sri Bhat and his group have faced in their decade of trying to clear the lake of encroachments, draining it completely, and making sure sewage treatment and pumping stations were constructed.

This lake is the only one in Bangalore,named after birds, he said…the name Sarakki is a mutation of “sAvara hakki” or “A thousand birds”! He also pointed out how several “villages” of Chunchaghatta, Kothanur,Jaraganahalli, Sarakki, and Yelachenahalli meet at the point of this lake. It was fascinating to learn all this!

Hats of to Sri Bhat and his team, for a very tough job, carried through with persistence and determination.

Sri Bhat shows us the inflow from the sewage treatment plant:

IMG_7925

In case anyone would like to visit the lake, the parking location is

https://goo.gl/maps/ME7DPMTGDCUKkDUD7

The perimeter of the lake is 2.5km, I was told, but as we walked around, it seemed a little less. However it is a large lake, with a lot of emergent vegetation and contracts awarded for fishing.

I have put my photos taken during the morning on my Flickr album (with captions) at

IMG_7944

and on FB (which, alas, does not accept my captions!) at

We did see many interesting insects, but the sunshine was not strong enough in the morning to bring out the butterflies.

It was very encouraging to see such a good turnout of people who care for the welfare of the lake.

Looking forward to seeing the Jaraganahalli/Sarakki Lake becoming a hotspot for birds, the way the restored Begur and Jakkur Lakes are!

Some of us enjoying breakfast after the walk:

IMG_7944

Cheers, and wishing those of you who celebrate the festival, a very happy Deepavali, and those of you who don’t, a pleasant weekend!

Deepa.

The Atlas moth and its avatars

November 3, 2020

Metamorphosis is surely, the most mysterious and magical process in Nature.

I was able to find some caterpillars of the Atlas Moth (considered to be the largest moth of the world) and (at different times) the moth itself. So I decided to document the life cycle of this magnificient moth, which has no mouth parts, and has a very short lifespan indeed! Its only function is to reproduce!

Here is what the Wiki entry says about this moth:

The Atlas moth (Attacus atlas) is a large saturniid moth found in the tropical and subtropical forests of Southeast Asia, and common across the Malay archipelago. Atlas moths are considered the largest moths in the world in terms of total wing surface area. Their wingspans are also amongst the largest, reaching over 25 cm (10 in). Females are appreciably larger and heavier.

I took the images from the Wiki entry to build this post, and added my own photos and video.

Here are the eggs of the moth:

Atlas_Moth_EGGS

By Sachin Palkar – Own Photographs, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3549726

The first instar looks like this.


By Steven G. Johnson – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11326198

Here are a few images of the slightly later instar, from Jaipurdoddi :

IMG_9357
IMG_9360

Here is the instar before pupation…what a magnificent caterpillar it is!

IMG_7896
IMG_7894

I found a few of these at Ravugodlu, Karnataka, on the 31st of October, 2020. I took a short video of one caterpillar munching its way contentedly,the last time this creature will be able to eat.

It then becomes a pupa:

Attacus_atlas-pupa

By Max Burger – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3912260

Here is the moth, emerging from the pupa:

EMEMRGING_MOTH

By Sachin Palkar – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3549808

I took this moth at Honey Valley, Coorg, Karnataka, on 2 Dec’18:

IMG_2718

Here’s a side view of the moth, from Turahalli, Karnataka, on 12 Aug ’17:

IMG_7245

I took a photo from behind too, to show the ventral view:

IMG_7210

No mouth parts! This is really amazing to me. A life form which cannot eat!

IMG_7219

You can see the feathery antennae here:

IMG_7205

The spectacular front view:

IMG_7203

I will never forget (thought I could not record it) the sight an Atlas Moth flying across the valley at Honey Valley, pursued by a hungry Drongo…which did not succeed in catching the moth.

Here are my friends, all excitedly photographing the moth (this was at Turahalli)

IMG_7212

Here is Akash, the trekker who found two of these moths within 20 minutes at Turahalli!

IMG_7215

And…one of my friends, who had been looking for this moth for a long time, calls it the…Atlast moth!

Turahalli Tree Park, 271020

October 29, 2020

Email from me to the Bngbirds egroup:

Probably one of the last few messages on the yahoo group, which has served us so well for so long!

Turning my back on the Eurasian Hobby frenzy at Hoskote, I took my Go to Nature group (we are 5 ladies who just enjoy the outing, no matter what the size and shape of the living beings we see!) to Turahalli Tree Park.

I was rather saddened by the fact that today, the word “tree” has to prefix the word “park”, or else it might be mistaken for an industrial or tech “park”! I belong to a generation where a park was only full of trees.

Wondering if this would be a very manicured and tamed patch of the Turahalli forest, I found that many of the residents of Sobha Forest View seemed to be posting quite interesting creatures, and we decided to visit.

Getting wind of my visit, some of the residents of Sobha Forest View, who have attended my walks at the forest patch for Bngbirds, came along too, and it was heartwarming to meet them all after a long gap (and at a fair distance..no hand shakes!) Here we are, at the gate:

IMG_7557

Vaijnath, Subbu, Cavery, Jayashree, Vrushali, Biju, Uma, Vijetha, Sushma, Archana, Shreya (I took the pic!)

We had a really enjoyable time. The park is, of course, maintained by the Karnataka Forest Department, and there is planting of several trees going on,but it’s been left sufficiently wild to keep it very interesting. At the same time, with its grid of paths, children and elders will find it a friendly space;the KFD have provided granite seats here and there to sit and rest. Most important, there is also a toilet facility, though one stall is in poor condition; the other had water. I do wish we could maintain our public toilets well! There was no provision for drinking water, a small pot near the entrance was empty and not covered. Perhaps, in these Covid times, everyone has to bring their own drinking water.

As we started, a flight of Bee-eaters, swooping up and down as they “hawked”(that is the term) for insect breakfasts. A patch of high reeds had Silverbills and a few Red Avadavats too.(Couldn’t see a male in the bright red plumage but got a few ladies with their lipstick beaks!) Drongos made their insect sorties overhead, and Rose-ringed Parakeets settled down on bare tree branches to give us parrot-green delight. It was surprising to see a couple of Jerdon’s Bushlarks sitting quite near us, and one of them displayed the typical lark behaviour of rising up in the air, singing, and then dropping down. White-eyes,

IMG_7568

a few Warblers, and several other birds (see my checklist!) added to our sightings. Here’s a juvenile Long-tailed Shrike:

IMG_7581

Nor were we lacking for other forms of life. The butterflies seemed to be out in such variety, and we seemed to be walking through a paradise of flying jewels! We did find some not-so-usual as well as the usual ones.Here’s a Common Lime butterfly:

IMG_7620

And one we call “Virat Kohli”, because it is the Indian (Grizzled) Skipper!

IMG_7638

Insects, too, claimed our attention, from a fluorescent Katydid, to Spittlebugs, Two mating moths which looked like two T’s joined together to make an “H”,

IMG_7644

jewel bugs flaunting their gleaming metallic colours, an inchworm, stink bugs and Tussock Moth caterpillars, tent and jumping spiders, a shiny Carpenter Bee

IMG_7648

…and so the list went. Uma and Vaijnath had excellent spotting skills for these tiny creatures!

What about the wildflowers and trees? Well, we saw a lot of Jamun, Peepul and other tree saplings coming up; rather close to each other, we thought, but I suppose the KFD know about it better than we do! We found several Palash (Butea monosperma) trees, and non-native (I wouldn’t call them that after they have been around for about 300 years now!) trees like Gulmohar too. Wildflowers like the Puncture Vine (Tribulus terristris), Devil’s Coach Whip or Blue Snakeweed(Stachytarpheta sp.), Passionflower (Passiflora sp.) and Coat Button (Tridax procumbens) dotted the paths, along with grass which looked very beautiful with their feathery seed cases waving in the breeze. I explained how many of these plants are used in traditional medicine.

After those who lived nearby returned, the five of us who do our weekly nature walk, sat on the granite seats under the cooling shade of the trees, and shared our usual (delicious!) snacks,

IMG_7652

enjoyed the peace of the park, and left, hoping to return again soon.

Birds:

My eBird list is at

https://ebird.org/checklist/S75511786

Butterflies:

Awl, Common Banded
Baron, Common
Baronet
Blue, Pale Grass
Blue, Dark Grass
Blue, Zebra
Bob, Chestnut
Brown, Bush
Brown, Common Evening
Castor, Angled
Castor, Common
Cerulean, Common
Coster, Tawny
Emigrant, Common
Flash, Red
Jezebel, Common
Leopard, Common
Lime, Common
Mormon, Common
Pansy, Chocolate
Pansy, Lemon
Rose, Common
Rose, Crimson
Sailer, Common
Skipper, Indian Grizzled
Swift, un id
Tiger, Blue
Tiger, Plain
Tiger, Striped
Yellow,Common Grass
Yellow, Spotless Grass
Yellow, Three-spot Grass

Participants:

Our Go to Nature group:
Biju
Cavery
Jayashree
Vrushali
and I.

Participants from Sobha Forest View:

Archana
Shreya
Subbu
Sushma
Uma
Vaijnath

My album on FB is

here

and on Flickr (for those who are not on FB) is

here

Looking forward already to whatever is in store for me this coming weekend!

As far as my outings go, I follow Covid protocols and so far, I have tested myself four times, negative each time!…so I seem to be doing something right..and I suppose I am also lucky. These outings, and regular (moderate…no Olympic training for me!) walks keep my immune sytem also up, I believe. Since I am at high risk myself, and have a family with two young grandchildren to think of, I am certainly as careful as I can be, without sitting indoors in fear! The Covid tiger is not going away any time soon, and I am happy to live as nornal a life as I can, with some restrictions. A time when being negative is something positive!

Cheers, Deepa.

Post-lockdown birding…

October 15, 2020

I have been silent on this forum for some time…during the two lockdowns, I was very happy indeed with the birds that came to our terrace pots to bathe and bully each other.
Snce the lockout lifted, I have only been on local outings with just 3 or 4 friends, and since many of us are worried about stepping out, the usual Bngbirds  group walks are not possible right now. For the same reason, I was a bit hesitant about writing, in case people felt that I was being foolhardy in going out But whatever precautions and protocols I have been following seem to have worked;so far, in a Covid situation, I am (thankfully) NOvid, in spite of being in the so-called high-risk category. (MAWTH… which is not “death” in Hindi, but Mask And Thoroughly  Washing Hands….are my primary protocols.) Touch wood, nazar uthaaro, and all the rest of the stuff. .I don’t want to write the next note from a Covid ward!
I must say that the period after the lifting of the second lockdown has been nothing short of magical. We had a limited summer this year, with the  premonsoon showers startinting in by  April. and a plentiful monsoon setting in….so plentiful, in fact, that many places are suffering from floods. We do donate all we can, but we can only imagine the difficulties people there must be undergoing.

In the Bangalore surroundings, the monsoon has meant a lush growth everywhere. Even in traditionally dry places like Maidahanalli or Sira, where I only used to see thorny scrub and dry,hard mud, it’s beautiful to see a lot of greenery, and plenty of water bodies, from rain-created ponds to brimming lakes. 
One of the wonderful places I often visited was the T K Falls area…another excellent birding area which has been shut down by the Karnataka Forest Department. The running stream of the Suvarnamukhi (which means, She who has a Golden Face…isn’t that poetry? I could write a separate piece on the names of streams and rivers in Karnataka!), descending in a small cascade, was a great place for flycatchers and babblers, with the occasional raptor making an appearance to whet our appetites.
We often saw the resident Short-toed Snake Eagle and the White-eyed Buzzard, apart from the more usual Honey Buzzards and Shikras. Peafowl, with the males flaunting their million-eyed tails, were everywhere. The Common Babblers were really common in this area! 
Nor was the place lacking for other life forms.All kinds of interesting and medicinal plants were thriving and blooming in the water-rich atmosphere. Butterflies flitted around us as we walked; we found a variety of amazing insects, dragonflies, spiders and damselflies…the amazing rock formations in the area, through which the rivulets tinkled on their way…and last but not least, the majestic trees and also the young growth of the plantations, were of great delight to us.
 The rainclouds scudding across, and when the rains stopped for a while, the freshly-washed blue sky with fleecy clouds floating along…looking up was not only a matter of looking at the birds! The cool weather, with an actual nip in the pre-dawn air, was perfect for being out in the Bannerghatta area.
Of late, we started making longer outings, a few times to Maidanahalli, to Sira, and finally, we decided on a weekend trip to Daroji…all of them were magical. For the Daroji trip, we made detailed arrangements with the help of Sri Pompayya Malemath, a friend of long standing, who both hosted and guided us. The Painted Sandgrouse, the Painted Spurfowl, the Indian Eagle Owl and the Yellow-throated Bulbul were lifers for some of my friends…and I was equally amazed to find medicinal plants such as the Punarnava (Boehravia diffusa) and Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) in the slushy ground just outside the Sri Lakshmi Narasimha temple. At Sira, I found butterflies such as the Painted Lady, and the Joker, not commonly seen here…this while enjoying the sight of the Egyptian Vultures and the huge “apartment complex” of the Streak-throated Swallows. At Daroji, a bird which had us discussing a lot was a beauty which we finally decided, was an Eastern Orphean Warbler. 
Migrants have begun to appear…Grey and Yellow Wagtails, migrant flycatchers, warblers (which, for some reason, are silent skulkers when I try to watch them!)…I am hoping that the plentiful-water situation might bring more ducks to our surroundings this year. The Bar-headed Geese will fly over the Himalaya, as will the tiny terns and stonechats…and I do hope that soon it will be safe for all of us, not only the venturesome few, to go out and enjoy the birds and all the rest of the living beings that make our city, state and country a wonderful place to live in.
Hey, you didn’t mention the food, I hear some of you say. Initially,yes, we were very careful, bringing along our own food and sharing,but now, we do have food at local darshinis where the food is freshly prepared and the chai is freshly boiled (and about 8 spoons of sugar added to every tiny cuppa!) I have made so many friends who run these eateries…Saraswathi in Ragihalli, Krishnaveni in Bhootanahalli, Annapoorna at Gauribidanur… because of my trips. 
Already a long post….well, I will not be able to give eBird lists for so many outings, or links to so many albums…please do look at our morning visit to the Mathanga Hills, and the Sri Lakshmi Narasimha temple at
https://www.flickr.com/photos/86494503@N00/albums/72157716321893388

I caption all my photos before uploading them online, but the new FB is deleting all the captions, and though I have written to them several times about it, it doesn’t look as if anything is going to be done about it! Hence I am giving the link to only my Flickr album. Who knows…now that Yahoo groups are being shut down, will Flickr be next (even though it’s been taken over by Smugmug and is now a paid service)? 
Cheers, and looking forward to meeting you soon, in a world where the virus has been tamed if not eradicated,
Deepa.

Raindrops.

October 13, 2020

How do you dry raindrops after a shower?
You hang them out on a line, of course!

IMG_6116

This was the start of an amazing day at Maidanahalli.

The album on Flickr is

here

and the album on FB is

here

(If you have the time and inclination to go through them!)

I love you, mother…

September 27, 2020

ot everyone says the words above out loud.

Not everyone sends cards and flowers and candy on Mother’s Day.

Not everyone can, or does, articulate the deep affection one feels for one’s mother.

But just a gesture can say it all…

IMG_3991

Muninagara, Karnataka, 260920

Childhood…

September 27, 2020

Those missing teeth, those anklets, the (probably) hand-me-down cycle, one shoe on and one off, similar haircuts, possibly by the same barber…those innocent grins…before gender raises its head, it is not boyhood or girlhood, just childhood.

IMG_3949

Muninagara, Karnataka, 260920

If I were a caterpillar…

September 23, 2020

If I were a caterpillar

DSC02263

All I’d do is eat

IMG_8430

And eat and sleep and eat and wake….

IMG_2323

And then I’d repeat.

IMG_8430

I wish I were a caterpillar

IMG_3576

But I would  make this

IMG_1320

A condition that I never change

DSC04576

Into a chrysalis.

IMG_8942

I want to be forever

IMG_0030

Eating and sleeping always.

IMG_2090

No butterfly’s short life for me

DSC08808

Forever fat, I’d like to laze!

IMG_0031

Bird names…

August 20, 2020

Never ask why
About a bird’s name
They have no sense
It’s always the same.

Look at the White-eye
With a white eye-ring it’s graced.

IMG_6264

But when a Malkoha’s eye-ring is blue
The bird is called Blue-faced!

IMG_7176

When a bird is bright purple
With a bright red beak,
Of the Grey-headed sSwamphen
Our experts speak.

IMG_0057

You know that bird names
Any logic lack
When a rich brown Kite
Can be called Black!

IMG_0132