Posts Tagged ‘photography’

Nature Feature, Feb. ’19: Hayath and the world of many legs

February 8, 2019

For a while now, the world of insects and spiders has begun to be revealed to everyone, through the medium of photography. As the micro-sized creatures are captured through macro photography, stunningly weird-looking creatures appear on social media feeds, making us feel that these, surely, are beings from a different planet!

No, these creatures are not “out of this world” at all. It’s just that their tiny size prevents us from seeing them in detail. Another reason why we know little about them is that they are often so well camouflaged, as leaves, bark, or other natural phenomena, that we overlook them completely.

Hayath Mohammed is one young man who, even as a child, was drawn to these smaller living beings. “I would walk around in the garden and find enough to interest me and keep me occupied,” he says. He invested in a camera to be able to document what he saw.

His parents have been supportive of his interest in these many-footed creatures, he adds. Indeed, he says, “My mother likes to go birding with me, and since she has also observed the various kinds of spiders and insects, she’s very understanding about my fascination for them”.

IMG_3517
An Antlion, one of the creatures Hayath showed me

He joined several fora for various insects, and soon learned to distinguish bugs from beetles, hoppers from weevils, and wasps from flies. “I tend to only think of their scientific names, not their common ones, as the common names tend to be generic,” he remarks. “When I talked about a Signature Spider, for example, I would quickly be asked which kind I meant, so I quickly learnt the specific scientific names.”

During the course of our short walk together in Doresanipalya, he did bring out quite a lot of these names for the spiders. Arachnura, Argiope, Cyclosa, the names rolled off his tongue,but didn’t quite roll into my ear as easily!

On the photography front, too, Hayath says, it’s been a big ride. “I got started with a Sony point and shoot gifted by my uncle.” he says. “I used that for a while before moving to a Sony H2.”Since then,” he adds, “I’ve moved to a Canon DSLR system and then, recently, to the micro four thirds Olympus system. My current macro equipment costs around Rs 50,000 in total.” Certainly, if it should be counted as a hobby, it’s quite an expensive one!

But more than a hobby, it’s a matter of a passionate pursuit for Hayath. “Macro photography can be extremely satisfying as a genre, ” he remaks. One need not spend so much, he adds. According to him, there are several low budget options to get started:

1. Clip on lenses for smart phones
2. Reversing short focal length lenses on an existing DSLR
3. Using a Raynox DCR 250 clip-on diopter for telephoto lenses and bridge cameras.

But sooner or later, one does wind up investing larger amounts of money to get the perfect image! “Proper use of light plays an important role in making good images, as with any other genre of photography,” he is quick to point out. He uses a Rs.5 thermocole Hi board as a light diffuser with his expensive flash equipment! So the combination of expensive equipment and cheap “jugaad” works well for him.

Here is Hayath, looking around at the trees, the leaves (on, around, and under them!) with his equipment, for the various creatures that he finds so interesting, and photographs so well.

IMG_3532

Here is his incredibly beautiful image of a Cicada:

cicadahayath
Photo: Hayath Mohammed

Let’s wish Hayath every success on the path he has set himself, of documenting the small creatures of the urban jungles….. creatures that most of us never get to see at the level of detail he achieves.

Advertisements

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.

IMG_2917
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.

IMG_2920

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

IMG_2993

Painted Storks,

IMG_2952

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!

IMG_2965

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

IMG_3080
Capparis flowers (Caper)

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

IMG_3073
Gangamma, the deity at the lake.

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

IMG_3007

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

IMG_3000

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

IMG_2988

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

IMG_2942
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

IMG_3043

and the hepatic morph, which is generally female.

IMG_3027

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.

IMG_3032
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.

IMG_3074
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

IMG_3073

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!

IMG_3078
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.

IMG_1847
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.

IMG_1851

As we neared the halfway mark, Painted Storks,

IMG_1936

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.

IMG_1916

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:

IMG_1919

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

IMG_1923

and several Brahminy and Chestnut-tailed Starlings

IMG_1928

A few Rosy Starlings too:

IMG_1901

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:

IMG_1892

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

IMG_1902

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.

IMG_1942

IMG_1945

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

IMG_1952

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.

Kidoor Bird Fest: Birding on the Border, 10,111118

November 29, 2018

Birds know no borders; the ones that we go to see in Karnataka fly off and can be seen once we cross over into Kerala!

So when the birders of Kasargod announced the second Kidoor Bird Fest, to celebrate both the first sighting of the

Orange-breasted Green Pigeon
obgp by by Sarala Jeevanthi Gamage
Photo credit: Sarala Jeevanthi Gamage

and the birthday of

Dr Salim Ali, the noted ornithologist,

it was clear that this would be a productive birding weekend.

The participants and the organizers.
IMG_0845

The festival was a bigger event than it was in 2017, because this time, birders from all over Karnataka and Kerala attended. 65+ birders made a strong show at the fest, which was held in the hamlet of Kuntangeradka, in Kidoor.

Kidoor Post Office sign.
IMG_0443

The festival began with everyone gathering and registering.
,IMG_0452

Beautiful palm-frond birds adorning the hall.
IMG_0460

Raju Kidoor
IMG_0512

and the entire team, including Maxim and Lavina
IMG_0467

worked very hard to make the event a success.

The birders of Kasargod, and some from Mangalore, brought the following local luminaries on the dais: Sri Pundarikaksha K L, President, and Smt Aruna Manjunatha Alva, Ward Member, both from the Grama Panchayath, Kumbla; Sri Biju P, ACF, and Sri Sunil Kumar, SFO, Social Forestry Division, Kasargod; Sri Chikkayya Rai,a practitioner of traditional herbal medicine; and Sri Radhakrishna, an eco-friendly businessman of Kidoor who eschewed plastic.

Dignitaries on podium:
IMG_0472

Sri Pundarikaksha inaugurated the event, and the dignitaries from the Social Forestry Division spoke about the valuable sighting of the Orange-breasted Green Pigeon in Kidoor, on 10th Nov 2016, and the decision to celebrate the birthday of Dr Salim Ali, noted ornithologist, on 11th November as well. Kidoor has proved a birding hotspot, with sightings of several birds endemic to the Western Ghats.

Sri Chikkaya Rai, Sri Radhakrishna, and Chi. Praveen (a young student who has spearheaded several ecological initiatives in his school) were felicitated.
IMG_0470

The local birders took the visitors for an evening walk in the nearby laterite/grassland area.

Sunlight on the grasses.
IMG_0522

and a pond that they are protecting for the birds.
IMG_0510

Participants on the evening walk.
IMG_0527

Children at the evening walk.
IMG_0588

They organized a cultural program, with many people, including these ladies who sang folk songs, taking part.
IMG_0604

Untiringly, they also conducted a night walk along the village roads.

Lavina, a doctoral student, explains about pond life on the night walk.
IMG_0624

Next morning,in the dawn light, they took the visitors on a morning walk, along a scenic trail.
IMG_0763

Apart from many endemic birds , several trees also endemic to the Western Ghats, butterflies, wildflowers, insects and other creatures were sighted (see photos below). The ladies were put up in the homes of the local residents, who were very hospitable.

The family who put up visitors at Kasargod, when they alighted from the overnight bus, on their way to Kidoor
IMG_0348

The family who put up the ladies at Kidoor
IMG_0851
Photo credit: Padma Ramaswamy

One of the impressive features of the fest was that not only was it conducted on a tight budget, but there was no sense of heirarchy amongst the organizers. Every one pitched in to do whatever tasks were required, whether it was setting up a screen, serving the food, or arranging the chairs in the hall. It made for a very homely, pleasant atmosphere, and the visitors also were able to do their bit. Another great feature was that no plastic was used in the course of the meals; each person washed the stainless steel plate, glass or cup that s/he used.

The meals were traditional and were delicious.

Breakfast of iddlis, sambhar and chai.
IMG_0827

Lunch in traditional vessels.
IMG_0602

After breakfast, the gathering settled down to watch some presentations on Odonates (Dragonflies and Damselflies), and Butterflies.
Murali’s presentation on butterflies:
IMG_0829

After this the participants were treated to lunch at the Gram Panchayat President’s home.
IMG_0854>

Plantain leaf lunch.
IMG_0855

Full of the wonderful sightings they had enjoyed, and the new friendships they had formed, the birders dispersed.

The District Collector, Dr Sajith Babu, participated enthusiastically in the Fest.

IMG_0584

He promised to spare the laterite/grassland from human-centric “development”. This makes it possible that from next year, the Kidoor Bird Fest will become a larger, well-sponsored event, attracting birders from further afield.

Participants at the end of the fest:
IMG_0845

Birds and other living beings observed during the event:

Yellow-wattled Lapwing.
IMG_0448

Yellow-footed Green Pigeon.
IMG_0481

Malabar Lark.
IMG_0566

Flame-throated Bulbul.
IMG_0692

Brown-capped Pygmy Woodpecker.
IMG_0691

Nilgiri Flowerpecker:
IMG_0791

Yellow-browed Bulbul.
IMG_0678

Grey-necked Bunting.
IMG_0819

Chestnut-headed and Blyth’s Starlings:
IMG_0728

Scaly-breasted and White-rumped Munias.
IMG_0705

Curved flower or Woody Chassilia.
IMG_0769

Porcupine quill found on the ground.
IMG_0772

Blue Tiger Moth.
IMG_0759

Memecylon flowers.
IMG_0755

Nag Kuda Tree (Tabernaemontana alternifolia).
IMG_0674

Beautiful grass.
IMG_0784

Beauty of the laterite rock.
IMG_0806

Common Sailer.
IMG_0794

Weaver Ants.
IMG_0795

Red Pierrot.
IMG_0799

All photographs by me, unless otherwise credited.

Shadow puppetry: Michael and Wendy Dacre at Kathalaya, 231118

November 24, 2018

Sometimes the shadow is just as interesting as the substance.

I was privileged to peep in on a shadow puppet workshop that

Michael and Wendy Dacre

conducted at Kathalaya, BTM Layout, Bangalore, on 23rd November 2018.

Nikhil from the Hindu interviews Michael and Wendy, while Geeta looks on.
IMG_1603

Shadow puppet theatre has long been a part of the traditional arts of many cultures,but when Wendy first got interested in it, she found that there was no tradition of it at all, in the United Kingdom. She built up her shadow puppets, and the shadow puppet theatre, from scratch, using any of a wide variety of materials to hand, and learning the ways puppets can be moved behind the screen, by experimentation. “Traditional shadow puppetry has set rules,” Wendy says, on a cloudy afternoon. “But I invented as I went along.” She did take the help of technology, she says; “If, for example, I wanted to make the silhouette of a buffalo, I would look at images on the net to be able to draw one.”

Michael and Wendy
IMG_1601

Wendy, therefore, describes herself as a “maker”. Whether it is the puppets themselves, or the proscenium on which they act out the story that Michael tells, they are all her own creations.

Michael takes up the story, from the viewpoint of telling the tale. “The puppets themselves don’t talk, in our shows,” he explains. It’s the audience’s minds and imagination, he says, that fills up the details: “The mind has to fill in the other things.” “I see the story in my inner mind,” he adds. Both he and Wendy sometimes improvise as they go along. The occasional tussles of each wanting to do something different, and the resulting compromises, make for interesting theatre!

What is the longest shadow puppet theatre they have staged? Michael talks of the many tales he’s picked up all over…the Icelandic and Irish mythology, the tales from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, and the Old English folklore. Their story of Beowulf is about an hour long, Michael says, as is the production of “Into a New Time”. He mentions tales based on the Sargasso Sea. Though the content could be very adult, he explains, he finds that it’s the adults who are most often captivated by the simplest of tales. “It’s been 31 years of an amazing journey with the stories and Wendy’s puppets,” he says. He describes himself, smilingly, as a “wordsmith”, who spins and relates the tale that Wendy brings forth with her puppets.

The puppets can vary greatly in size. “I’ve made some giant puppets,” smiles Wendy. “For the Arthurian tale of

Gawain and the Green Knight

I made a Green Knight puppet with a giant head, with creepers and plants growing out of his face, ears and all…and the puppet had to be beheaded in the course of the story! “Velcro came in handy!” she laughs.

All the pupppets only monochrome shadows? “Oh, no, you just saw the green grass, the coloured flowers and the other things I created as the stage,” explains Wendy. “I use anything, such as glass paper, that is translucent and will let the light through. Sometimes the mixture of colours gets me interesting combination, sometimes the pigments merge into black.” She also uses coloured lights as well, to enhance the silhouettes.

How does Wendy take care of the puppets? She laughs. Her craft, she says, is very much “of the time”, and the puppets can disintegrate into their component parts or, as happened with one giant puppet, get composted! Fabric, willow, glue, ratafia…she uses materials that can decompose.

For the workshop, Wendy has brought along a puppet stage, with three panels, and specially devised lighting. She must have this, as daylight cannot be focused sharply on her little stage. She’s also created a small mobile stage that can be slung across the story-teller’s shoulders and secured at the waist, so that the story teller can move round while staging the shadow puppet show.

Jayashree demonstrates the mobile stage and shows some of the puppets:

IMG_1598

IMG_1594

On their first visit to India, at the invitation of Geeta Ramanujam of Kathalaya,this couple from Devon seems very much at ease. Michael tries out a vada with chutney, and interacts with the ten women, from very diverse backgrounds, who have come to participate in the workshop. Anu, Shalini, Rakhi, Savita, Shirin, Archana, Anshul, Rohini, Pavitra and Anusha are learning a bit of this art and craft and creating their own shadow puppet theatre…an exciting prospect for them.

Participants at the workshop:

IMG_1577

Scenery created by the participants of the workshop:

IMG_1608

We wish Michael and Wendy success with their first foray into our city and country, with their spinning of tales and creation of a world of the imagination.

A moose and a billy goat, in the short demonstration before the workshop:

IMG_1591

Here is a video that Jayashree took, of the short demonstration:

Michael and Wendy will be staging two performances with Geeta Ramanujam on Sunday, 25 November, 2018. Here are the details and the links:

Shadow puppetry Show – Geeta Ramanujam, Michael and Wendy Dacre UK.

Kathalaya, in collaboration with Indian Music Experience (IME), presents a special shadow play by international storytellers, Raventales (UK) . Venue: IME JP nagar opp. BRIGADE MILLENIUM SCHOOL on NOV. 25th 11 to 12pm. Tickets: Rs.300

Link to the event,

here

There will be another performance at 5.30 to 7.pm at Courtyard Koota, Good Earth, Kengeri, on the same day.

Link for the tickets,

here

Or you can call 8277389840 for more details.

Official report: Butterfly Festival, Doresanipalya, 171118

November 20, 2018

I was about to write something about this event for my blog, and realized my official report for the Karnataka Forest Dept would do just as well!

The founder-members of Bangalore Butterfly Club (BBC), from Nagraj’s slide presentation:

IMG_1309

The Karwar Swift, not very common.
IMG_1400

The second Butterfly Festival at Doresanipalya Forest Research Station, celebrated on 17th November, 2018, was very successful.

These ladies, making the rangoli, brought as much of colour as the butterflies did, to the event.
IMG_1013

Though limitations on the space available at the venue, in terms of the hall for presentations, resulted in the event not being open to the public at large, a gathering of more than 150 people in total, with a number of casual visitors, ensured a good attendance.

The event was conducted by the Karnataka Forest Department (KFD) in association with Bangalore Butterfly Club (BBC) and National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS).

The gathering:

The flame that was lit.
IMG_1226

Everyone gathered in the morning and participants signed their names in the register. There was planting of some butterfly-friendly species of plants and trees, by several KFD personnel.

A KFD guard documents the occasion:
IMG_1217

After a delicious breakfast, the children from Janak Academy, and the participants, went on butterfly walks, conducted by various members of BBC.

IMG_1107

Many butterflies, and other interesting living beings and creatures, were observed.

Common Pierrot
IMG_1101

When everyone returned, some freshly-eclosed (just emerged from pupae) butterflies, such as Crimson Rose, Common Lime, Baronets, and others were released, to the delight of all present. This release, suggested by the outgoing APCCF, Sri Dilip Das, was spectacular, drawing exclamations from the audience.

Smt Pushpalatha B K, RFO (Utilization), sang a melodious prayer.

Sri Subba Rao, ACF,Seed Unit , was the master of ceremonies, compering the event and introducing the various guests to the audience.

Sri Jagannath, DCF, Social Forestry (Research), Bangalore, opened the proceedings by welcoming the distinguished guests on the podium: Sri Sanjay Hosur, IFS, APCCF (R&U), Sri Punati Sridhar, IFS, PCCF (HoFF), Sri Sanjai Mohan, IFS, PCCF, and MD, KFDC, Sri Jayaram, IFS, PCCF (Wildlife), and Sri Vinay Kumar from EMPRI. Dr Krushnamegh Kunte, Associate Professor, NCBS, was also on the podium.

Sri Rohit and Dr KK (Dr Krushnamegh Kunte) at the tree-planting.
IMG_1151

RFO, Ms Hima Bhat.
IMG_1137

Everyone admired the stage decoration.
IMG_1014

Sri Manjunath C Tambakad, IFS, CCF (Research) Bengaluru, welcomed the gathering. The other guests also spoke, stressing the need for conservation, and expressing the hope that the festival takes on a national hue from next year. He appreciated the event and expressed his hope that sensitizing the children at an early stage would lead to their playing a bigger role in conservation of forests for tomorrow.

Sri Punati Sridhar hoped that Doresanipalya would be a role model for setting up of several tree parks consisting of butterfly larval host plants across Bangalore, which would serve as a haven for butterflies. He appreciated the importance of organizing events like the butterfly festival as a step towards conservation of butterflies and bees, which, he said, were critical for pollination, and by extension, for the survival of life on earth.

Sri Sanjai Mohan expressed his hope that the Doresanipalya campus would be declared as a butterfly reserve. He emphasized that he was glad that events such as the butterfly festival were being organized with participation from public at large and passionate butterfly enthusiasts and butterfly scientist community. He expressed that this kind of participation from public was important to spread awareness about conservation of forests and its creatures

Kum Snigdha sang a beautiful song on butterflies, “Patharagitti Pakka”, on butterflies, by D R Bendre.

The guests and several of the schoolchildren also planted some plants and trees, such as Taare (Terminalia bellarica) and Kadamba (Neolomarckia kadamba)
IMG_1067

Sumptuous breakfast
IMG_1079

In the hall of the KFD office, three presentations were held: Dr Krushnamegh Kunte spoke about butterfly research and citizens’ initiatives in conservation; Sri S Karthikeyan, Chief Naturalist, Jungle Lodges and Resorts (JLR) spoke about butterfly diversity in India, and Sri Nagraj Veeraswami, a member of BBC, showed the audience the many butterflies that he has photographed in the Doresanipalya campus, with an erudite commentary by Sri Ashok Sengupta, one of the founder-members of BBC.

Simultaneously, there were three activities in the building: a display of photographs of butterflies, by various members of BBC
IMG_1027

a painting competition for children, with butterflies as the theme

and an origami workshop, conducted by Sri Seby Manalel and Kum Arpitha Bhat.
IMG_1274

The children, and some of the adults, too, enjoyed these activities. There was also a counter for playing games from “Kadoo”, where many people were seen enjoying themselves.

IMG_1095

Dr Krushnamegh Kunte donated some of the butterfly brochures (a guide to the butterflies of Bangalore) designed by NCBS to the KFD for their reference, and announced that NCBS would also donate the brochures to any schools that needed them.

Sri Rohit Girotra, another of the founding members of BBC, spoke about how the festival took shape, and his hopes for the future of both the event and the butterflies of Bangalore.

IMG_1238

The audience again gathered for the prize-giving and closing ceremonies. Dr Krushnamegh Kunte, Sri S Karthikeyan, and Sri Nagraj Veeraswami were thanked for their presentations.

IMG_1369

The prizes for the painting competition were distributed,

IMG_1352

and the certificates for the origami workshop, the photography display, and general participation were given out.

IMG_1371

IMG_1354

The sound engineer did a good job, too.
IMG_1338

The teachers from Janak Academy expressed their appreciation of the event and the opportunity to have the students participate.

A formal vote of thanks concluded the proceedings, and the gathering adjourned for lunch, dispersing afterwards with happy memories of the festival.

Plains Cupid
IMG_1132

Deepa Mohan
Freelance writer and member of BBC
99800 10366

I have put up the photographs of all the events of the day on a Flickr album

here

And on an FB album, set to public viewing,

here

IMG_1332>

Accuracy in journalism today

November 14, 2018

Journalism today is exemplified by the following apology:

“Yesterday, in an article, we stated that Mr. X is a defective in the police force. We sincerely apologize. Mr. X is a detective in the police farce.”

What brought this on? A photo of mine in the Hindu has been credited to Deepa Menon!

here

is the link to the article by Marianne de Nazareth, who has used my photo of the beautiful Sesbania grandiflora flower…

IMG_1460

To a dead butterfly

November 1, 2018

IMG_9632

Oh, little one…why did you die?
Were you attacked by a bird
That wanted you for food?
Or did your energy just give out,
As your wings folded up for good?
With so many others about,
Your death throes not heard?
No answers.You lie there…why, oh why?
The stilling of life, the departure of breath…
The profound mystery of life…and death.

mahishAsura mardhini, 191018

October 19, 2018

IMG_8586

IMG_8362

अयि गिरिनन्दिनि नन्दितमेदिनि विश्वविनोदिनि नन्दिनुते
गिरिवरविन्ध्यशिरोऽधिनिवासिनि विष्णुविलासिनि जिष्णुनुते ।
भगवति हे शितिकण्ठकुटुम्बिनि भूरिकुटुम्बिनि भूरिकृते
जय जय हे महिषासुरमर्दिनि रम्यकपर्दिनि शैलसुते ॥ १ ॥

Ayi Ranna-Durmada Shatru-Vadho[a-U]dita Durdhara-Nirjara Shakti-Bhrte
Catura-Vicaara Dhuriinna-Mahaashiva Duuta-Krta Pramatha-[A]dhipate |
Durita-Duriiha Duraashaya-Durmati Daanava-Duta Krtaanta-Mate
Jaya Jaya He Mahissaasura-Mardini Ramya-Kapardini Shaila-Sute || 5 ||

Meaning:
(O Divine Mother, I invoke You and take refuge in Your Auspicious Feet)
5.1: Salutations to You O Divine Mother; I Invoke You; Who Manifested to Destroy the Battle-Intoxicated Arrogant Demons and Who is the possessor of Unrestrainable and Imperishable Power,
5.2: (I Invoke You) Who made Lord Shiva Her Messenger, that Shiva Who is Distinguished by Cleverness in Deliberation and is the Lord of the Ghosts and Goblins,
5.3: Who is Honoured for Bringing an End (i.e. Rejecting) to the Proposal of the Evil-Minded and Ignorant Messenger of the Demon (Shumbha) (and hence bringing an end to the demons themselves),
5.4: Victory to You, Victory to You, (I take Refuge in Your Auspicious Feet) O the Destroyer of Demon Mahishasura; (Victory to You) Who Shine with Beautiful Locks of Hair and Who is the Daughter of the Mountain.

IMG_8578

सुरललना ततथेयि तथेयि कृताभिनयोदर नृत्यरते
कृत कुकुथः कुकुथो गडदादिकताल कुतूहल गानरते ।
धुधुकुट धुक्कुट धिंधिमित ध्वनि धीर मृदंग निनादरते
जय जय हे महिषासुरमर्दिनि रम्यकपर्दिनि शैलसुते ॥ ९ ॥

Sura-Lalanaa Tatatheyi Tatheyi Krta-Abhinayo-[U]dara Nrtya-Rate
Krta Kukuthah Kukutho Gaddadaadika-Taala Kutuuhala Gaana-Rate |
Dhudhukutta Dhukkutta Dhimdhimita Dhvani Dhiira Mrdamga Ninaada-Rate
Jaya Jaya He Mahissaasura-Mardini Ramya-Kapardini Shaila-Sute || 9 ||

IMG_8532

Meaning:
(O Divine Mother, I invoke You and take refuge in Your Auspicious Feet)
9.1: (Salutations to You O Divine Mother) I Invoke You; Following the Rhythm of Whose Great Battle the Celestial Dancers Dance the rhythm of Ta-Tha-Theyi, Ta-Theyi, expressing the sentiment of the battle with their Dramatic Acts,
9.2: (I Invoke You) Following the Rhythm of Whose Great Battle the Celestial Musicians Create Music capturing the Tense Eagerness of the battle with the Talas (musical beats) like Ku-Kutha, Ku-Kutha, Ga-Da-Dha, Ga-Da-Dha,
9.3: Following the Rhythm of Whose Great Battle a Steady Deep Sound of Dhu-Dhu-Kuta, Dhu-Kuta, Dhim-Dhimi is played in the background from the Mridangam (a musical drum),
9.4: Victory to You, Victory to You, (I take Refuge in Your Auspicious Feet) O the Destroyer of Demon Mahishasura; (Victory to You) Who Shine with Beautiful Locks of Hair and Who is the Daughter of the Mountain.

सहितमहाहव मल्लमतल्लिक मल्लितरल्लक मल्लरते
विरचितवल्लिक पल्लिकमल्लिक झिल्लिकभिल्लिक वर्गवृते ।
शितकृतफुल्ल समुल्लसितारुण तल्लजपल्लव सल्ललिते
जय जय हे महिषासुरमर्दिनि रम्यकपर्दिनि शैलसुते ॥ १२ ॥
Sahita-Mahaahava Mallama-Tallika Malli-Tarallaka Malla-Rate
Viracita-Vallika Pallika-Mallika Jhillika-Bhillika Varga-Vrte |
Shita-Krta-Phulla Samullasita-[A]runna Tallaja-Pallava Sal-Lalite
Jaya Jaya He Mahissaasura-Mardini Ramya-Kapardini Shaila-Sute || 12 ||

Meaning:
(O Divine Mother, I invoke You and take refuge in Your Auspicious Feet)
12.1: (Salutations to You O Divine Mother) I Invoke You; Who is Accompanied in the Great Battle against Excellent Wrestlers (Fighters) by Girls who appear Tender like Jasmine Fighting against the Enemies,
12.2: (I Invoke You) Whose Accompaniments are Composed of Girls from the Bheel Tribe who are Tender like Creepers of Jasmine and buzz like Swarms of Bees,
12.3: Whose Face Play a Smile Created by Joy which appear like Dawn Shining forth with Red Colour and Blossoming the Excellent Buds of Flowers,
12.4: Victory to You, Victory to You, (I take Refuge in Your Auspicious Feet) O the Destroyer of Demon Mahishasura; (Victory to You) Who Shine with Beautiful Locks of Hair and Who is the Daughter of the Mountain.

IMG_8546

विजितसहस्रकरैक सहस्रकरैक सहस्रकरैकनुते
कृतसुरतारक सङ्गरतारक सङ्गरतारक सूनुसुते ।
सुरथसमाधि समानसमाधि समाधिसमाधि सुजातरते ।
जय जय हे महिषासुरमर्दिनि रम्यकपर्दिनि शैलसुते ॥ १७ ॥
Vijita-Sahasra-Karaika Sahasra-Karaika Sahasra-Karaika-Nute
Krta-Sura-Taaraka Sanggara-Taaraka Sanggara-Taaraka Suunu-Sute |
Suratha-Samaadhi Samaana-Samaadhi Samaadhi-Samaadhi Sujaata-Rate |
Jaya Jaya He Mahissaasura-Mardini Ramya-Kapardini Shaila-Sute || 17 ||

Meaning:
(O Divine Mother, I invoke You and take refuge in Your Auspicious Feet)
17.1: (Salutations to You O Divine Mother) I Invoke You; Who Conquer Thousands of Enemies who fight against Her with Thousands of Hands (by manifesting Her Own Thousand Hands); Who then Make Thousands of Hands (of Devotees) Praise Her,
17.2: (I Invoke You) Who Created the Rescuer of the Devas (Son Kartikeya) to Fight with Demon Tarkasura and then Urged Her Son for that Great Fight,
17.3: Who is Pleased with both: The Devotional Contemplation like King Suratha for Worldly Gains, and also the Excellent Devotional Contemplation like Merchant Samadhi for Spiritual Knowledge,
17.4: Victory to You, Victory to You, (I take Refuge in Your Auspicious Feet) O the Destroyer of Demon Mahishasura; (Victory to You) Who Shine with Beautiful Locks of Hair and Who is the Daughter of the Mountain.

IMG_8498

पदकमलं करुणानिलये वरिवस्यति योऽनुदिनं सुशिवे
अयि कमले कमलानिलये कमलानिलयः स कथं न भवेत् ।
तव पदमेव परम्पदमित्यनुशीलयतो मम किं न शिवे
जय जय हे महिषासुरमर्दिनि रम्यकपर्दिनि शैलसुते ॥ १८ ॥
Pada-Kamalam Karunnaa-Nilaye Varivasyati Yo-[A]nudinam Su-Shive
Ayi Kamale Kamalaa-Nilaye Kamalaa-Nilayah Sa Katham Na Bhavet |
Tava Padam-Eva Param-Padam-Ity-Anushiilayato Mama Kim Na Shive
Jaya Jaya He Mahissaasura-Mardini Ramya-Kapardini Shaila-Sute || 18 ||

Meaning:
(O Divine Mother, I invoke You and take refuge in Your Auspicious Feet)
18.1: (Salutations to You O Divine Mother) I Invoke You knowing that Whoever Serves Your Highly Auspicious Lotus Feet Everyday, Which is an Abode of Compassion, …
18.2: (He Serves) That Lotus (Lotus Feet), Which is an Abode of Kamala (Goddess Mahalakshmi); (Therefore) Will He Not Himself Become an Abode of Kamala (i.e. filled with Purity and Prosperity)?
18.3: Your Feet Indeed is the Supreme Feet (i.e. Supreme Refuge); Therefore How can I Not Practise Devotion Towards them, O Auspicious Mother?
18.4: Victory to You, Victory to You, (I take Refuge in Your Auspicious Feet) O the Destroyer of Demon Mahishasura; (Victory to You) Who Shine with Beautiful Locks of Hair and Who is the Daughter of the Mountain.

IMG_8526

अयि मयि दीन दयालुतया कृपयैव त्वया भवितव्यमुमे
अयि जगतो जननी कृपयासि यथासि तथानुमितासिरते ।
यदुचितमत्र भवत्युररीकुरुतादुरुतापमपाकुरुते
जय जय हे महिषासुरमर्दिनि रम्यकपर्दिनि शैलसुते ॥ २१ ॥
Ayi Mayi Diina Dayaalu-Tayaa Krpaya-Iva Tvayaa Bhavitavyam-Ume
Ayi Jagato Jananii Krpayaasi Yathaasi Tathanu-mita-Asira-Te |
Yad-Ucitam-Atra Bhavatyurarii-Kurutaa-Duru-Taapam-Apaakurute
Jaya Jaya He Mahissaasura-Mardini Ramya-Kapardini Shaila-Sute || 21 ||

Meaning:
(O Divine Mother, I invoke You and take refuge in Your Auspicious Feet)
21.1: (Salutations to You O Divine Mother) I Invoke You; You Must Bestow Your Grace on Me, O Mother Uma, Who is Compassionate to the Miserable,
21.2: (I Invoke You) O Mother of the Universe; Just as Your Grace is Showered (on the Devotees), In the Same Manner are Your Arrows Scattered (on the Enemies) (destroying their egos),
21.3 Please do Whatever is Appropriate at this time, O Worshipful Mother, to Remove the Sorrows and Afflictions (of the world) which has become Difficult for me to bear,
21.4: Victory to You, Victory to You, (I take Refuge in Your Auspicious Feet) O the Destroyer of Demon Mahishasura; (Victory to You) Who Shine with Beautiful Locks of Hair and Who is the Daughter of the Mountain.

IMG_8374

For the full Mahishasura Mardhini Stothram, click

here

clicking on each Sanskrit word will also give its meaning.

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:

IMG_7991

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

IMG_7986

Shyleaf, a fodder plant:

IMG_8069

“Washington”, where laundry is dried:

IMG_7994r

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

IMG_8071

Flies:

IMG_8063

Pea Blue:

IMG_8056

Red-wattled Lapwing:

IMG_8074

Pied Paddy Skimmer:

IMG_8058

Streaked Weaver:

IMG_8019

Swallows on the wire:

IMG_8084

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

IMG_8092

Mist on the lake:

IMG_8013