Posts Tagged ‘photography’

Bngbirds 3rd Sunday outing: Madivala Kere, evening, 160220

February 17, 2020

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Following Deepak Jois’ suggestion that I conduct an evening walk, I met up with a reasonably large group of birders at the entrance of Madivala lake at 4.30 pm, after paying uncomplainingly for parking, entry and cameras.

I had been a little worried about the other visitors to the lake, but as it turned out, they were not a hindrance at all. From our meeting point, we could scan the lake…and the first thing that struck us was the horrific growth of the water hyacinth, which appears ready to choke off the entire water body. Boating too, has been stopped because of this. It seemed to be more of a green lawn with some stretches of water.

However, there was enough water for several birds. Purple and Grey Herons, a huge flock of Intermediate Egrets (I have not seen this large a congregation before), Purple Swamphens (no, I will not call them Grey-headed!) and Coots moved around in the vegetation. There was a lone Pelican in the water, but most of them were roosting on the island, waiting to come down to fish later, perhaps.

Moving on, we heard the calls of Barbets and Bulbuls; some of us sighted a few, too. Sunbirds flitted around on the Singapore Cherry tree, as did a solitary Pale-billed Flowerpecker (Sabyasachi told me that they are called “Tuntuni” in Bengali…I know some names like Shalik and Tiya, but this was something I learnt today).

Some Asian Openbill storks were also spotted on the island, and Job exclaimed at seeing several Northern Shovellers on the far side of the waterbody. His sharp-eyed spotting enabled all of us to enjoy a peek at these winter visitors.

Meanwhile, three majestic Marsh Harriers entertained us (and terrified the birds) throughout the walk, alternately perching on the water hyacinth or floating over the water with their whitish heads and the typical “headlights” on their wings showing, as they hunted for unwary prey.

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The light on the water turned golden as sunset approached, and it was a great time to watch the birds as they foraged for food. I enjoyed the company of several of the children. Ahana, Surya, Trayee, Vismaya…some of the names that I remember…these were some of the children whom I interacted with. Surya, in particular, seems very knowledgeable about bird names, and was often testing me to see if I knew enough! Such bright and interested minds are fun to spend time with!

We walked to the left of the entrance gate, till past 6pm. Then, as several people bid adieu, I too decided to turn back as the lake gates close at 6.15pm. We were all out of the lake, as I had said, by 6.30 pm, leaving the lake to flights of Little Egrets flying in, and bats beginning to flit about in the gloaming.

The eBird list (45+ species) is at

https://ebird.org/checklist/S64561731

I took few photographs as I was busy scanning the lake with my binoculars! My FB album is at

https://www.facebook.com/deemopahan/media_set?set=a.10157320888153878&type=3

and my Flickr album on

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Thanks to everyone for joining in, and letting me enjoy the golden sunset in the still-pleasant weather of a February evening!

Cheers, Deepa.

European Bee-eaters, Mavathur Kere, off Kanakapura Road, 170220

February 17, 2020

eBird list, 47 species:

https://ebird.org/checklist/S64628920

Vapour rising from the lake in the dawn light:

Rufous-tailed Lark parent and child:

Natural strobe at NASA’s restaurant on Kanakapura Road:

Dawn:

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European Bee-eaters:

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Small Blue Kingfisher:

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Rufous-tailed Larks:

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Woolly-necked Stork:

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Pond Heron:

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Brefus at NASA’s:

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Bngbirds 3rd Sunday walk, Madivala kere, 160220, evening

February 16, 2020

Following Deepak Jois’ suggestion that I conduct an evening walk, I met up with a reasonably large group of birders at the entrance of Madivala lake at 4.30 pm, after paying uncomplainingly for parking, entry and cameras.

I had been a little worried about the other visitors to the lake, but as it turned out, they were not a hindrance at all. From our meeting point, we could scan the lake…and the first thing that struck us was the horrific growth of the water hyacinth, which appears ready to choke off the entire water body. Boating too, has been stopped because of this. It seemed to be more of a green lawn with some stretches of water.

However, there was enough water for several birds. Purple and Grey Herons, a huge flock of Intermediate Egrets (I have not seen this large a congregation before), Purple Swamphens (no, I will not call them Grey-headed!) and Coots moved around in the vegetation. There was a lone Pelican in the water, but most of them were roosting on the island, waiting to come down to fish later, perhaps.

Moving on, we heard the calls of Barbets and Bulbuls; some of us sighted a few, too. Sunbirds flitted around on the Singapore Cherry tree, as did a solitary Pale-billed Flowerpecker (Sabyasachi told me that they are called “Tuntuni” in Bengali…I know some names like Shalik and Tiya, but this was something I learnt today).

Some Asian Openbill storks were also spotted on the island, and Job exclaimed at seeing several Northern Shovellers on the far side of the waterbody. His sharp-eyed spotting enabled all of us to enjoy a peek at these winter visitors.

Meanwhile, three majestic Marsh Harriers entertained us (and terrified the birds) throughout the walk, alternately perching on the water hyacinth or floating over the water with their whitish heads and the typical “headlights” on their wings showing, as they hunted for unwary prey.

The light on the water turned golden as sunset approached, and it was a great time to watch the birds as they foraged for food. I enjoyed the company of several of the children. Ahana, Surya, Trayee, Vismaya…some of the names that I remember…these were some of the children whom I interacted with. Surya, in particular, seems very knowledgeable about bird names, and was often testing me to see if I knew enough! Such bright and interested minds are fun to spend time with!

We walked to the left of the entrance gate, till past 6pm. Then, as several people bid adieu, I too decided to turn back as the lake gates close at 6.15pm. We were all out of the lake, as I had said, by 6.30 pm, leaving the lake to flights of Little Egrets flying in, and bats beginning to flit about in the gloaming.

The eBird list (45+ species) is at

https://ebird.org/checklist/S64561731

I took few photographs as I was busy scanning the lake with my binoculars! My FB album is at

https://www.facebook.com/deemopahan/media_set?set=a.10157320888153878&type=3

and my Flickr album on

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Thanks to everyone for joining in, and letting me enjoy the golden sunset in the still-pleasant weather of a February evening!

Cheers, Deepa.

Flickr albums and videos of 3rd bird survey at Satpura Tiger Reserve, 04-110220

February 11, 2020

04,05,06 Feb, train to Itarsi/Sohagpur/Madhai, and morning birding at Madhai mud flats

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7th Feb, Parraspani:

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8th Feb, Parraspani and Dhargaon:

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9th Feb, Parraspani and return to Madhai:

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Praveen was sent to Podar and returned to Churna for the last night. We took 2.5 to 3 hours to get there and to return to Madhai. No phones, no food, no forest guard.

Crossing the Denwa river at Parraspani:

Nilgai family on the way back from Dhargaon to Parraspani:

Chital swimming across the river at Madhai:

Little Ringed Plover bathing, Madhai:

Birds and brains! IISc students trip to Ranganathittu, 180120

January 23, 2020

It was a new experience for me…taking 27 students of IISc(from undergrad level to Ph.D. students) along with a professor and his young daughter, to Ranganathittu, on the 18th of Jan, 2020. Arun Kaulige also guided the group. Kiran and Ambarish organized the trip extremely well.

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The group. Photo: a passing tourist!

It was a first for me as I have never before taken such a large group which does not hail from Karnataka! Naturally, since the group consisted of people who have secured admission into various programs at IISc, they were from various parts of the country.

I was also a little doubtful about our later-than-usual start…we left Bangalore at 7.15 am, stopped for breakfast at Kumbalgodu, and then proceeded to Ranganathittu…but I need not have worried.

Flycatchers of three kinds…the Tickell’s Blue, the White-breasted Fantail, and a beautiful Verditer flitted around even as we entered the sanctuary. We were able to spot both Purple and Purple-rumped Sunbirds.

Since almost everyone was new to birding, and the group’s budget was not very big, we decided on the short boat trip for everyone, in two boats, Arun going in one and myself in the other. However, since our boatman, Manjunath, recognized me from the Ranganathittu bird census, he kindly gave us a little extra time!

We enjoyed watching the Spot-billed Pelicans, and the Painted Storks (they are so plentiful here that it’s difficult to remember that they are near-threatened) and Openbills

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flying and perching; Several Grey Herons stood quite nonchalantly, next to rocks that, our group realized in surprised (and vocal!) dismay, were not rocks at all, but glided through the water, showing their deadly scales!

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We saw several “crocs on the rocks”, too, basking in the sunshine. Prof Chandra pointed out one saurian on the island, crunching up a fallen egg; I was able to talk about the diet of eggs and nestlings that the crocodiles enjoy, apart from fish. Manjunath gave a brief history and account of the sanctuary, which I translated for the others.

It was good to see that several Spoonbills have arrived at the sanctuary,

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and were displaying their lacy breeding plumage; Little and Great Cormorants, and one Indian Cormorant, gave diving and drying displays. River Terns made their floating, graceful forays and spectacular aerobatics as they sought fish in the water.

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Stream Glory damselflies mating

After the boat ride, we walked along the bank of the river, and the presence of several tourists did not prevent us from seeing Scaly-breasted Munias, Tricolored Munias

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and Silverbills feeding off the bamboo flowers and seeds. Rose-ringed Parakeets called from above our heads, as did White-cheeked and Coppersmith Barbets. Black and Brahminy Kites floated overhead, mixing with the waterfowl. Arun and I also talked about the various flora in the area

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Mucuna monosperma, Negro Bean, a native climber.

We adjourned to the canteen for lunch,

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and I then suggested that we return via Naguvanahalli, trying our luck with the Blue-tailed Bee-eaters. Google maps always takes us to the “wrong” side of the river and asks us to walk through the water to the sanctuary; so I was careful to take the bus through Naguvanahalli village to the “right” side of the river. I was able to show the group the completely non-touristy landscape of the beautiful Kaveri. Clothes, cattle, vehicles, and human beings..everything was getting washed in Her waters! (Oh yes, I use a capital letter because the Kaveri is a revered, life-giving goddess to me!)

We saw a few Indian Grey Hornbills flying into the trees, and a Black-rumped Flameback rat-tatted its presence on a palm tree-trunk. A few Green Bee-eaters had the group asking me if they were the birds I had told them about. Even while I was shaking my head negatively, thankfully, a Blue-tailed Bee-eater sailed in and landed on the wire, once again riveting the eyes of the group.

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Farmer washing his cow, Naguvanahalli, 180120

I must sadly add , however, that the Bee-eater sanctuary is in a shambles (For some reason, it is marked on Google maps as a Green Bee-eater sanctuary..that is one bird which, for now at least, does not need protection.). The sign and several of the granite poles with barbed wire strung across them, have fallen to the ground. Since the floods in the monsoon of 2019, the Forest Dept seems to have made no effort to build these up properly again. Instead of the hundreds of Blue-tailed Bee-eaters I have seen here in the past, we were lucky to see just seven of them.

The group seemed to enjoy the serene environs, and many of us walked up to the waters and cooled our feet. The rustling of the leaves of the huge Peepal and other trees, the breeze along the river, and sound of the river water…I most definitely recharged my spiritual batteries in the lap of nature.

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Banks of the Kaveri, Naguvanahalli

On the way home, I decided that I would introduce the group to some of our iconic foods and beverages…so we stopped at Bidadi, and the group tasted the Karnataka filter coffee, the Bidadi thatte iddli, and the Maddur vada. The softness of the iddlis encouraged several initially reluctant people to try one!

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We drove home in the glowing, golden sunlight of the evening.

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I was very happy to have shown the students, many of whom live and work almost exclusively in the cocoon of the IISc campus, a part of the State that I live in, and love so much. I am not sure how many missed the malls and the tourist spots, though when given a choice between Srirangapatna and Naguvanahalli, the unanimous vote was for the latter!

The eBird list for Ranganathittu is at

https://ebird.org/checklist/S63528082

and for Naguvanahalli, at

https://ebird.org/checklist/S63528408

I have put up my photos on an FB album at

An outing for the students of IISc.

Posted by Deepa Mohan on Monday, January 20, 2020

and on Flickr at

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I will next be sending an announcement about the 4th Sunday walk this month, which is going to be on the 4th Saturday instead. Meanwhile, enjoy “Mittwoch” (in German, the middle of the week is called exactly that!) and look forward to the weekend, with Republic Day falling on Sunday!

Cheers, Deepa.

Valley School area: A write-up for Ramki Sreenivasan

January 21, 2020

As part of the Bannerghatta Biosphere, the area of scrub jungle adjoining and abutting the Valley School ( a day school run by Krishnamurthy Foundation India) has for long been a birding hotspot.

The area that birders frequent comprises surprisingly varied terrain, for such a small acreage. There is scrub, open grassland, and a wooded area; a small stream that can run either full or reduce to a trickle in the dry months, adds a water body. This, of course, does not include the actual School campus, which, after a few instances of drunken behaviour, is not accessible for local birders in general.

As one walks along the path next to the barbed wire from the main gate of the school, one can take a right and get to the open grassland area. Sightings in this area include many flycatchers such as the White-throated Fantail,

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and the Tickell’s Blue (resident)

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Verditer

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or Ultramarine (migrant)

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in the strip of Pongaemia trees, the Yellow-wattled Lapwing and the occasional Grey Francolins

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or Quails

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in the long grass, and several raptors, like the Crested Hawk Eagle,

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which often perch on the distant trees, keeping a sharp eye out for prey.

Returning to the now well-marked path and walking along, one can see Red-vented,

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Red-whiskered

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and White-browed Bulbuls;

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Jerdon’s Bushlarks

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and Hoopoes

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forage on the ground or can be seen perched on the trees. The many interesting trees, including the Palash (Butea monosperma) and Date Palms ( Phoenix dactylifera), and even the small Tacoma stans bushes, and the Singpaore Cherry (Muntingia calabura) , are good places to sight the smallest birds we know in India…the Pale-billed Flowerpeckers

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and the Purple

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and Purple-rumped Sunbirds,

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with the rarer Loten’s Sunbird making an appearance now and then. Yellow-billed Babblers may be sighted everywhere along the path.

As one nears the building that was once built as a guest house for the School, and demolished by the Forest Dept in a legal tussle (which the School won), it’s time to look for Blue-faced Malkohas, Small Minivets and the rare delight of a Sirkeer Malkoha in the Eucalyptus trees.

The roof overhang of the abandoned building houses two nests of the Little Swifts,

which are used year after year.

As one walks further down the path, and passes the Coral Jasmine tree( Nyctanthes arbor-tristis), several kinds of babblers, like the Puff-throated

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or Tawny-bellied Babblers,

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make their appearace. The calls of several Flycatchers can be heard in and around the bamboo thicket, as also the unmistakable call of the resident family of the White-rumped Shama.

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Really lucky birders can sight the Mottled Wood Owl

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or the Brown Wood Owl… and a Rufous Woodpecker.

Back again, and returning along the “main” path, one can look up…to see the resident Honey Buzzards

soaring on the thermals; Indian Grey Hornbills

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scissoring their way through the air, and perhaps a Black-winged Kite, a Bonelli’s or Short-toed Snake Eagle to add to the species count. I cannot forget the day I saw a Black Baza in the air! Of course, the Black Kites and Brahminy Kites are always around.

The huge Peepal tree (Ficus religiosa) is often a good place to sight Golden Oriole

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and Black-naped Oriole,

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too, and several kinds of Munias, like the Scaly-breasted Munias,

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and Silverbills,

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can be observed foraging amongst the grass seeds.

The Banyan tree (Ficus benghalensis) is a great place for the White-cheeked and Coppersmith Barbets,

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and for other birds like Rose-ringed Parakeets,

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Jungle Mynas,

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and Rosy Starlings

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as they busily take advantage of the ripe figs. Jungle

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and House Crows,

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and the occasional Leafbird

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may also be seen.

There has not been a single time when any of us have returned from a birding trip to the Valley area disappointed; that is the kind of bird diversity that this hotspot offers.

Bird Race, 190120

January 20, 2020

Amit, Edgar,Harish, Keerthana, Kumuda, Poorvi,Prem,Radhika, Shreeya, Sriram,Valli, and I

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To Ravugodlu.

Shared packed brefus.

to NASA’s for coffee.

To Kaggala halli kere,
Gabbadi kere,
Harohalli kere,
Suvarnamukhi Reservoir. (Ate the rest of the food for lunch)

Did not go to

Bettahalli Kaval kere.

Kabbina haalu on the way back. Coffee and checklist at Checkpost.

Gathering and dinner at Royal Orchid, Manipal Centre. Subbu’s following Salim Ali talk. Too long and not apt for the evening.

The eBird list for Ravugodlu is at

https://ebird.org/checklist/S63541088

The FB album is at

https://www.facebook.com/deemopahan/media_set?set=a.10157241963673878&type=3

and the Flickr album is at

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4th Sunday outing, Muthanallur kere, 221219

December 27, 2019

Nowadays, what with the monsoon not willing to leave us, and the winter morning fog setting in as well, the question always is, “Will we be able to see anything at the beginning of a bird walk?”

Well, enough of us gathered at the pig farm at Muthanallur lake to answer this question…the answer being, “It’s difficult to distinguish colours, but the birds are there…and enjoy the lovely monochrome scenery until the colours are clear!”

The pig farm was probably not the most pleasant of places as a meeting point, noisome as it was. However, as soon as I took the mandatory group photo, we set off along the narrow path, and reached the bund of the lake. The water in the lake is still quite high, but the areas near the bund are completely covered by water hyacinth, making it impossible for any waders to forage there. We saw a few Grey Herons, a Purple Heron, and several Egrets, and in the bare trees, we watched a flock of Chestnut-tailed Starlings arrive and fly around noisily. This reminded me of the majestic Silk-cotton tree at Lalbagh, the blossoms of which are covered by flocks of these Starlings in season, making it a delightful sight!

The next sighting brought forth exclamation marks from everyone; one of the distant bare branches sat a Booted Eagle, one of the winter visitors which one generally expects to see at this location. A few Drongos were there, too, mobbing other birds as usual..but this time, it was Black Kites which mobbed the Eagle and sent it flying off. However, we kept sighting both the pale and dark morphs of this bird as they wheeled overhead in their search for prey.

We walked as far as we could along the bund, noting the excessive growth of Lantana and Parthenium, which crowded out much of the other plants one would like to see. Sunbirds, however, seemed to enjoy nectaring in the former, and the latter had a lot of Lynx spiders and Orb Weavers.. The “chit-chit-chit” of the Pale-billed Flowerpeckers kept up a rhythm to our walking.

Beyond the majestic Mahua tree and the newly-constructed Adi Parashakti temple, the path became really overgrown after a bit, so we retraced our steps to the temple, where we halted to share our snacks, and then walked down perpendicular to the lake bund. In the open space just beyond the temple, the Booted Eagles gave us an aerobatics show again; and several Large Grey Babblers, a Paddyfield Pipit, and some flitting-in-the-undergrowth Warblers kept us occupied.

The path into the Eucalyptus grove yielded a few more birds, and the swampy area that we ended up in had Purple Swamphens, a White-breasted Waterhen, the White-throated Kingfisher, and Bee-eaters too. We watched each bird’s behaviour for a while, and then turned and retraced our steps.

All this sounds as if we did the walking in a smooth, continuous way…but that is never the way it is with bird watching! Halt, find something that looks interesting, peer it at through binoculars, try and identify the bird, and then observe it…it’s a stop-and-go procedure, with the stops often outnumbering the “go” part!

We noticed several beautiful butterflies on the path, too, and it was pleasant to hear the sound of contented clicking as the macro photographers captured various six- and eight-footers. I was able to point out a few wildflowers like Ipomoea, Indigofera, Trichodesma (such scientific names are, to me, less fascinating than the common names…I much prefer “Coat Button” to “Tridax” and “Krishna Kranti” to Evolvulus!)

All too soon, we wound along the path in the Eucalyptus grove, with the last sighting of a Paradise Flycatcher to keep in our memory (and our memory cards) as a memento of another pleasant morning at Muthanallur kere. As usual, while some of us went home to waiting breakfasts, some adjourned to a group breakfast where we laughed and exchanged notes, and admired excellent shots on the bazooka lenses!

The eBird list is at

https://ebird.org/checklist/S62520502

I have put up my photos on an FB album at

https://www.facebook.com/deemopahan/media_set?set=a.10157160364603878&type=3

and the Flickr album is at

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Butterflies:

Apefly
Blue, Lesser Grass
Blue, Pale Gass
Blue, Pea
Blue, Zebra
Cerulean, Common
Emigrant, Common
Jezebel, Common
Mormon, Common
Pansy, Chocolate
Pansy, Lemon
Pansy, Yellow
Pierrot, Common
Rose, Crimson
Tiger, Plain
Tiger, Striped
Yellow, Common Grass
Yellow, Three-spot Grass

Cheers, and see you all with “Twenty-Twenty” vision next year!

“pAni poori dOsA”, Solapur, 301119

December 2, 2019

Dosas (dOsA) have become a popular item all over India, and in line with the constant evolution of food, this dish, too, is evolving, with several push carts advertising “100 varieties”!

On a visit to Solapur, we were having chai, when I looked at the shop next door, intriguingly called “Nani’s Dosa”.

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I was watching this young man make a new variety (he told me later, his name is Kumar, and this “pAni poori” dosa was his invention!)

Here he is, making the dosas on the tAvA:

He then adds ginger/chilli paste and a “Madras podi” (that’s what he called it):

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Then a dollop of butter:

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Then cheese is grated on to it:

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The whole thing is thoroughly mixed, with the cheese and butter melting in:

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And the mixture is spread (in an aesthetically pleasing way!) on top of the entire dosa:

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Kumar then cuts the dosas into strips:

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He then rolls up the strips:

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His young helper stands the little rolls on the plate:

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Cream (malAi) is then drizzled on the rolls. Here’s the dosa as it is served:

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And finally, here is the picture of Kumar’s sister in law, and the extended family, all about to enjoy the finished item!

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My response to Photobucket’s “Pay or we will delete your photos” (rude) warnings

September 30, 2019

Dear Whoever-is-reading-this-at-Photobucket.

I joined Photobucket which was a free photo-hosting (and 3rd party hosting) site many years ago, and over a period of time, used many accounts and when the storage was increased, I made use of that. So now I am not even sure on which of my accounts I am over the limit.

I am a retired person, living in India, where a dollar still goes a very long way (it’s nearly 70 rupees.) My income is such that I have to watch every expense like a hawk, while still trying to indulge my passion for photography. When I realized that I could save in hi-resolution on Flickr, I started saving to that site, and stopped using Photobucket. But my storage continued, as I have made many blogposts using those photos, over the years.

Had there been either a polite announcement or a reasonable sum mentioned, I might have, with difficulty, paid up. But the announcement was as rude and peremptory as could be, basically preventing any third party hosting and threatening me with various bad outcomes if I did not pay. I just could not afford the amounts mentioned on my several accounts, and so I didn’t pay…I couldn’t pay. I decided that if my photograph would vanish from my blogposts, so it had to be. You can see my blog on LiveJournal at
https://deponti.livejournal.com/
(from 2006)
and I back up on WP at

https://deponti.livejournal.com/.

My financial situation has not changed; indeed, inflation in my country (India) has made such payments even less affordable for me. Perhaps you at Photobucket think all “free” users are there to take advantage…I can assure you, it is not so. There must be many people like me, who are grateful for the free hosting provided, because it allows us to store on the cloud without paying large amounts. On Flickr, I am careful to keep under the free limit for this very reason. I am not “cheap”…I am not affluent, and have to watch my expenses, that is all.

So, all I can say at the age of 65 is, if you want to delete all my photographs, and make nonsense of my blogpost, I simply cannot afford to do anything about it. I have found your attitude very brusque indeed, and that, too, has disposed me towards accepting that my photos are going to be wiped out. Well,right now they are not clearly visible, so I guess I am already nearly at the ultimate point.

I will be interested to know if my email is read…and will be pleasantly surprised if there is a response. Yes, when Flickr became SmugMug and went “pro”, I did email them and, apart from the fact that the announcements themselves were far more polite, I got an excellent series of responses from them. Since I cannot afford any more, keep my photos within the 200-image limit. .

Part of the reluctance to pay also stems from my worry that if today I pay Rs (or $ ) X, what prevents any of the photo sites from further shrinking my storage, or demanding even more? At that point, I will anyway lose my stored photos, so I feel I might as well save my precious funds and have the wipeout happen earlier.

With a sad wish that you would not assume a tone that implies that your users are tech-savvy peopel out to take advantage of you,

Deepa Mohan, Bangalore, India.