Posts Tagged ‘plants’

The Indian Mallow

November 19, 2020

The Indian Mallow has the scientific name Abutilon indicum. I remember it by thinking, “a beauty lon”! Hoskote kere, 16 Nov ’20. Our common “weeds” growing by the wayside are often beautiful wildflowers, and used in traditional medicine.

IMG_1509

For example, with the Indian Mallow, the Wiki entry says: various parts of the plant are used as a demulcent, aphrodisiac, laxative, diuretic, sedative, astringent, expectorant, tonic, anti-convulsant, anti-inflammatory, anthelmintic, and analgesic and to treat leprosy, ulcers, headaches, gonorrhea, and bladder infection.The whole plant is uprooted, dried and is powdered. In ancient days, maidens were made to consume a spoonful of this powder with a spoonful of honey, once in a day, for 6 months until the day of marriage, for safe and quick pregnancy. (what is a quick pregnancy? One in which the baby comes to term in 6 months?)

The plant is very much used in Siddha medicines.

The seed pod:

IMG_6599

The root, bark, flowers, leaves and seeds are all used for medicinal purposes by Tamils. The leaves are used as adjunct to medicines used for piles complaints. The flowers are used to increase semen in men, too(though it’s not clear how it is to be ingested).

IMG_8107

So do look at the wildflowers and “weeds” at your feet…you might find something quite interesting…and useful!

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!)

Begur Lake, a triumph of rejuvenation! 060620

June 8, 2020

The last couple of occasions I had visited Begur Lake, it was under renovation, and we were a little concerned about how the job would be carried out.

Well, on Saturday the 6th, a few of us

IMG_7125

decided to visit the lake, as Dhanapal has been getting such excellent images from there; and we were very happy that we did; the birds (and other living beings) are back at, and in, the lake.

The onset of the monsoon meant that we walked on to the lake bund. Following Dhanapal’s directions, we walked along the eastern bund instead of the western one near which the Panchalingeswara temple stands. We found several stands of reeds and almost immediately, our attention was riveted by the variety of birds that we found. Coots, Grebes, Egrets (all sizes), Herons (both the common colours of grey and purple) all went about their business of securing breakfast in their different ways, ducking in the water, or wading along the shoreline.

In a while, we could discern even more activity in the reeds. Streaked Weavers were building their nests, carrying long reed-leaves to one stand and expertly weaving them in;

IMG_7042

In this connection, I would like to add two excellent videos Ashwin has made, of Streaked Weavers feeding their young:

and

Pond Herons in fine breeding plumage

IMG_7060

stood stock-still while their sharp eyes scanned the water; and a few Yellow bitterns, which are rather difficult to sight as a rule, were quite clearly visible as, clutching the reeds with both feet, they darted their beaks into the muddy ground for insects, snails or a small fish.

IMG_7065

The typical spider-like movement of these birds, along the reeds instead of over the ground, made them easy to identify, and tell apart from the Pond Herons.

IMG_7066

For many of us, this was a “lifer” (a bird being seen for the first time) and the binoculars and the cameras were very busy indeed!

One surprising fact was that there were far more Brahminy Kites than Black Kites, in a city where the reverse is often true. We enjoyed their soaring, and their swoops into the water to catch fish, the attempts being successful occasionally.

Cormorants, Little, Indian and Great, were in plenty, and flew in and out of the lake, stippling the water as they landed or took off. Overhead, too, they formed skeins as they disappeared into the brightening sky, perhaps bound for other water bodies. Several Darters added their zigzag snake-necks to our bird count.

Several Spot-billed Pelicans were found in the far reaches, while a few swam lazily around nearer to where we stood. We found only a few Spot-billed Ducks, and some Lesser Whistling Ducks, far away. Meanwhile, Ashy and Plain Prinias, and one single Clamorous Reed Warbler, delighted us at the front of our birding stage. Both the Bronze-winged

IMG_7178

and the Pheasant-tailed Jacanas wandered around, the males of the latter in their spectacular “comma-tail” breeeding plumage. For some reason, there were only two Painted Storks, one of which struggled (successfully!) with a very large fish, as we looked on.

IMG_7175

Purple Swamphens

IMG_7070

and Common Moorhens added both colour and black-and-red, and we saw the Pied, White-breasted and the Small Blue Kingfisher. Red-rumped Swallows collected mud for their nests, from the shore.

Indeed, I would say that Begur lake is an ideal spot for bird watching and bird photography. One does not need to walk far; the light of the morning sun falls on the birds; one can watch the behaviour of the birds at leisure, rather than just sighting them and moving on. The first frenzy of the cameras gives way to the calm use of the binoculars!

Nor were birds the only thing that caught our attention, Starting with a gleaming Jewel Bug at the entrance, many handsome six footers welcomed us to the lake. Pentatomid bugs, Net-winged Beetles,

IMG_7152

different kinds of bees and wasps nectaring and gathering pollen

and several spiders which were ready to catch any unwary ones,

IMG_7167
Lynx spider killing a bee which came to nectar in the Dhatura flower.

dragonflies

IMG_7158

Ruddy Marsh Skimmer

and damselflies

IMG_6993

…there was no dearth of six- and eight-legged creatures. Several butterflies woke up

IMG_7159
Lesser Grass Blue

IMG_7157

Mating Mottled Emigrants

and flitted around as the sunlight warmed up; we saw Emigrants, Common and Crimson Roses, some Blues, Tawny Costers…and so the list went.

The lake itself was redolent with the peace of the morning. Scudding grey and white moisture-bearing clouds, across patches of freshly-washed blue skies;

IMG_7142

the reflection of those clouds, along with the old Panchalingeswara temple and the multicoloured buildings of Begur, in the waters of the lake; the fresh monsoon breeze and the gentle monsoon sunshine..it was utterly delightful to be out in the open air, enjoying all of this.

Alas, some trash has also made an appearance at the lake, as has some stagnant areas with stinking algae,

IMG_7160

but with the easing of the lockdown, I hope that the lake will be better maintained.

IMG_7100
Mexican Poppy

We shared our snacks (having removed our masks for a bit, in case you were wondering) and munched contentedly with the ease of undemanding camaraderie, and went homes with our spirits lifted and our memories, and memory cards, filled up!

IMG_7112

I have posted my photos on Flickr

here

and on FB at

here

The eBird list is
here

Looking forward to more outings with all of us having our good health intact,

Deepa.

Ravugodlu, 4th Sunday Bngbirds outing, 250819

August 29, 2019

Email to the Bngbirds egroup:

IMG_0025

IMG_0043

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

IMG_0007

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

Ravugodlu is one of the last semi-scrub forest patches

IMG_0091

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

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

IMG_0116

…brought flashes of brightness to the cloudy atmosphere.

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

IMG_0069

to be sure.

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

IMG_0082

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

IMG_0049

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

IMG_0061

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

IMG_0066

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

IMG_0089

blooming wildflowers such as the Node Flower,

IMG_0087 Allmania nodiflora, Node Flower Allmania

Indian Cadaba,

IMG_0083  Cadaba fruticosa, Indian Cadaba

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

Several reptiles like the Garden Lizard

IMG_0121

and the Rock Agama

IMG_0100

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

IMG_0103

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

IMG_0117

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

IMG_0017

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

IMG_0110

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

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

IMG_0132

IMG_0133

IMG_0149

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

IMG_0130

IMG_0125

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

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

IMG_0014

The eBird list is at

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

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

I have put up my photos on a FB album at

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

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

IMG_0180

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

IMG_0166

IMG_0152

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

IMG_0157
Jewel Bug

IMG_0160 Sweet Potato Weevil
Sweet Potato Weevil

IMG_0162
Blister Beetle

IMG_0165 Tussock Moth Cat early instar
Tussock Moth caterpillar

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

Deepa.

Doddakallasandra Kere, 3rd Sunday Bngbirds outing, 180819

August 18, 2019

IMG_0278

A question mark hung over today’s outing, as it rained all over Bangalore, well into the early hours of the morning….prompting most of us to ask ourselves, “Should we go, or turn over in our snug warm comforters for a little more sleep?” Well, some of us chose the former option, and Deepak was delighted to see quite a good turnout at Sri Kumaran School, Doddakallasandra, on such a soggy morning!

IMG_0221

At the very outset, I must thank Deepak for introducing me (and perhaps several others) to a lake that I did not know of in so many years of birding in and around Bangalore.So after people posed for the group photograph (several people joined later), we squelched our way into the muddy and rather slippery path to the lake. It was very heartening to see many newcomers, and we were especially happy to see the rapid recovery which Harish Chandra, one of our experienced birders, is making in his recovery towards good health. The devoted care by Neha, his daughter, is obviously bearing good results! He immediately stepped up to Manvi, and chatted to her as he usually does with children.

IMG_0246

Though cloudy and gloomy, we still started with Rose-ringed Parakeets, Spotted Doves and Red-vented Bulbuls. Several Purple-rumped Sunbirds, Loten’s Sunbirds (all beak and hardly any body!)

IMG_0243

and Pale-billed Flowerpeckers delighted us as they flitted about in spite of the absence of sunlight.

Though the sun did not make an appearance at any point during the walk, it proved to be a productive outing. Sri Eshwarappa (on the left in the pic below)

IMG_0231

is one of several volunteers living near the lake, who have been working tirelessly against alarming odds, to keep the lake alive; he spoke quietly, but with great passion, on the way we have lost our water bodies, and the need to preserve them.

At the lake’s edge, we looked out onto the rain-dappled water, where, as Prasad pointed out, many of the waterfowl were going about their business, heedless of the damp conditions. Darters,

IMG_0232

Cormorants (Little, Great and Indian) roosted on the central island or flew in the gloom; a large flock of Spot-billed Ducks were seen, and Deepak told us that they nest and breed here. A lone Spot-billed Pelican was…spotted!

A Common Iora and a couple of Oriental White-eyes provided a bright touch of yellow to the generally grey surroundings, but soon, my insurance policy (whereby I bring my umbrella or raincoast and it never rains) failed, and the raindrops started coming down in earnest. This stopped our walk, and we were content to just stand near the water’s edge and look out, and up, to see all the birds we could. “Chooee, chooee”, went the tailorbirds, and the “guttrr-guttrr” of the White-cheeked Barbets seem to agree that we should not be walking too far on the path that made me rename the place “Muddy kere!” We learnt about hearing the birds as well as seeing them…in such weather, a good skill to have!

Out came all our umbrellas, proving my point, that Bngbirds is the “umbrella” birding group in Bangalore!

IMG_0250

But that didn’t prevent us from seeing Greater Coucals, distinguishing between House and Jungle Crows, Common and Jungle Mynas, and Black and Brahminy Kites. We noted the presence of several Black-crowned Night Herons, along with Pond Herons and Grey Herons (er, ALL the birds were looking grey this morning!),

IMG_0254

with Little Grebes looking bright in their breeding plumage.

IMG_0236
Spot-billed Ducks and Little Grebes.

Prasad told us about the five facets of a bird which would be needed to identify them. (What are they?…come along next Sunday, to find out!) Several of us were on our first birding outing; and it was very impressive to see Manvi, Sha and Vismay there, bright and early.Children are the way to take birdwatching to the future!

Nor were the birds the only things that we observed. Acacia, Mahogany, Mango, Tamarind, Gulmohar and other trees were identified, and I showed Manvi the Passion Flower (she was unwilling to try the fruit, so I ate them!) the Devil’s Coach Whip, and other wildflowers that we often ignore on our nature walks. Beautiful Damselflies

IMG_0257

and a Scoliid Wasp

IMG_0261

kept us entranced.

The butterflies, too, were not very active because of the dull weather; a few Grass Yellows, one solitary Common Lime, a couple of little Blues, a Common Mormon and a Crimson Rose were the only ones I could see. I am sure the rest of them were sitting cosily under the sheltering leaves and thinking what fools these human beings were, to walk around in such weather!

We did make an effort to come back and walk on the deep (bund) side of the lake, but the rain put a stop to that, too…and for the first time in years, as we dripped our way, we forgot to open up and share our snacks! (I hope it will not happen again, either, for a long time!)

We learnt more about the lakes, the way they were constructed, and the way they have been encroached and destroyed; Naveen, who is a doctor,talked expressively about the need to protect our water bodies.

IMG_0226

Sri Eshwarappa also provided some fresh information, and we all dispersed, some of us going home to waiting families and engagements.

Some of us adjourned to a nearby darshini, where the absence of places to sit made us split into two groups, one eating in the “outstanding” area downstairs, and the other shivering in the unneccessary air-conditioning of “Dana Pani” restaurant, upstairs! Piping hot pongal, dosas, iddli and vadas were despatched with coffee.

IMG_0282

A lot of intormation was shared about various eating places in and around Bangalore. Prasad left early to attend the talk ( by Sri Karthik, att the National College Jayanagar) on the history of Bangalore, but not all of us were able to make it, the call of breakfast, and other commitments, being stronger!

We started birding here:

https://goo.gl/maps/WzqPpuGCu4vnRoZg8

The eBird list (49 species, an excellent count for such a rainy morning!) is at

https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S59069325

I have put up my FB album at

and for non FB friends, a Flickr Album at

IMG_0282

Glory Lily, Bhootanahalli,130719

July 15, 2019

IMG_0407

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

Turahalli State Forest, 180918

September 27, 2018

Warning, contains images that may be disturbing.

The Bangalore skyline from Turahalli

IMG_6248

Post to the bngbirds egroup:

Today was the fourth time in a few days that I went to Turahalli. After Vijetha Sanjay discovered the patch of the carnivorous plant, Drosera burmannii (Sundew plant), I have taken friends to see the plant; they have all been surprised by how tiny it is!

IMG_6266

Today was the first weekday that I have been to Turahalli in a while. As we climbed the path to the Muniswara temple, we heard the temple bells being rung and some chanting too. What, however, the three of us were unprepared for, was to have four chickens beheaded and their bodies thrown in front of us, twitching as they bled to death.

The family offering the worship included young children; they were obviously inured to this, and everyone seemed quite matter-of-fact about it.

IMG_6256

Sacrifice is a part of many rituals of worship, and I cannot presume to judge such customs. But being completely unused to it, it was very unsettling indeed. Even more upsetting was seeing the head of one of the birds lying amongst the flowers offered for worship.

IMG_6314

So if anyone is not used to watching such customs, please do not go up to the temple on a Tuesday, as it seems to be the day for such sacrifices. I have never, in all my years of visiting Turahalli, seen this before.

However, the rest of our outing was very pleasant indeed. The patch of the carnivorous plants was rewarding, as was the brightly-coloured male Red Avadavat which seems to sit regularly on some dried trees near the top of the hillock.

IMG_6253

Several kind of insects,spiders and flies showed us their beauty. Four Southern Birdwings flashed their bright yellow and black as they flew overhead near the Eucalyptus trees. A Pale Grass Blue opened up the blue as it repeatedly sat on the freshly-fallen petals of the Cassia senna.

IMG_6352

Spotted Dove
IMG_6325

A dog near us charged at a young peacock, which flew up into the Eucalypus and afforded us a shot.

IMG_6226

A young family who’d brought a professional photographer (and a plastic sign saying “BABY GIRL”) to capture their daughter’s infant moments, kept yelling at her to look at the camera. (“IL NODU, PUTTA!”) Patient for a while, she finally started her own bit of yelling when she was made to put on a pair of blue plastic butterfly wings and a blue antenna headband!

IMG_6297

Such lilttle vignettes kept us quite happy as we slowly wended our way back, and went home after a nice hot coffee at SLV Coffee, where the ever-smiling Triveni was working as hard as usual.

A fly:

IMG_6295

Blister Beetle with pollen from the Stachytarpeta flowers:

IMG_6326

I have put up the photos from the outing

here

and the Flickr album is

here

And have made a short video of the wonderful “pot” entrance that the ants were making to their nest:

Also rather struck by the exponential growth in the human habitation in the less-than-ten-years I have been visiting Turahalli, I made a quick video of the skyline:

The eBird list is

here

A flower that tricks the tricksters! Ceropegias…. endangered plants

July 31, 2018

IMG_2439

Ceropegia candelabrum, Turahalli, Karnataka,280718

We have all heard of carnivorous plants like the Venus Flytrap, that trap and devour insects. But less known is the fact that some plants of the Ceropegia species, actually deceive and entrap insects, for pollination!

Here’s how the Ceropegia flowers work, and it’s quite complicated.

Spiders and other insect predators often trap and eat honeybees, and there are some flies that love to eat these honeybees, too. The flies are able to smell the scent of the dying honeybees, and congregate to feed off the bees even as the predators are eating them. Since they are, in this sense, robbing the predators, they are called “kleptoparasites”

Ceropegias take advantage of this liking of the flies. They produce a fragrance that is remarkably similar to the “alarm pheromones” (the mixture of about 33 substances emitted from the glands of the bees under attack). This fools the flies into entering the flowers…and they find themselves falling into the flowers, to the pollen chamber (the pot-shaped area at the bottom of the flower).

Now, the flies, notorious thieves themselves, find that they have been doubly deceived. Not only are there no flies to eat, but also, there is no nectar in the pollen chamber of the flowers, to reward them. The Ceropegias are known as “deceptive flowers,” allowing themselves to be pollinated by the insects they attract without rewarding them with food.

IMG_9220

Ceropegia hirsuta, Panarpani, Madhya Pradesh, 080917

In addition to this trick, there is also the ensuing imprisonment, as the plants trap the flies in their flowers for around 24 hours. This ensures that the flies — searching for both food and a way out — do all the work when it comes to pollination. As a result of this activity combined with food deprivation, the flies are quite weak when they are finally allowed to fly away. As hungry as they are, they are magically drawn to the alluring, deceptive scent of neighbouring flowers, where they end up back at square one.

The deceit of the Ceropegias was discovered by Annemarie Heiduk, a doctoral researcher in biology at the University of Bayreuth. Scientists from Bayreuth, Salzburg, Bielefeld, Darmstadt, London, and Pietermaritzburg helped her gather the evidence. The international team has now presented its research findings in the latest issue of the journal Current Biology.

You can read in more detail about this fascinating process,

here

But the plant itself is sometimes subject to being eaten by the caterpillars of butterflies and moths. Here a Plain Tiger caterpillar on the flower of one Ceropegia:

IMG_2446

Here is a photo that I took of a true carnivorous plant, called the Sundew flower, which digests the insects caught in the sticky “dew” of its flowers.

Drosera burmanii, Panarpani,080917

IMG_9234

Just another example of the wonders of the world we live in!

4th Sunday outing, Bngbirds: Muthanallur Kere, 220718

July 25, 2018

Our group, the Usual Gang of Suspects, at MCS or Mandatory Chai Stop. The group always has different people, so this is a good way of introducing ourselves to each other!

IMG_2075

The assembled group except for MBK.

IMG_2089

Anil, Anindita, Divya, Regin, Arpita,Sushma, Imtiaz (hidden),Siri, Sanjay, Suhasini, Padma,Prathap, Ramaswamy, Gopinath, Raju, Harish, Ganesha, Priyaranjan, Subramanya, Sahas, Vijay, Arnab, Srini, Deepak. MBK is missing. Muthanallur lake,220718

With MBK, who was photographing me photographing the group!

IMG_2091

Email to bngbirds egroup:

Dear Shyam, Sorry that you had to miss a very pleasant morning, and one where two of the most experienced birders of Bangalore were present! It was very nice to have Dr M B Krishna and Dr S Subramanya, who shared some of their encyclopaedic knowledge with us.

Suhasini with MBK and Subbu

IMG_2139

All of us met at the Shani temple at Muthanallur,

IMG_2083

but when we started walking on the lake bund, it was apparent that because of the proliferation of water hyacinth, this part of the lake was completely choked and we could not see much. So we all piled into our cars and went to the Muthanallur bus stop, and from there to the path that leads past a pig farm to the shore of the lake.

Rose-ringed Parakeet

IMG_2145

The lake was brimming; this is, surely, the fullest that I have seen this waterbody.

IMG_2141

The path that we usually walked on was completely under water, so we took the higher path. This, too, was very overgrown after the rains, and we did not cover more than half the distance we usually cover in drier seasons. However enough interesting beings kept us occupied.

Pied Kingfisher

IMG_2136

Having started with Coppersmith Barbets and White-throated Kingfishers near the temple, we looked at Little Grebes, Little and Great Cormorants, Coots and an occasional Egret and Pond Heron. Black Kites and Brahminy Kites soared over the water, effortlessly riding on the monsoon wind. We heard the Common Iora before some of us spotted it. Some Purple Swamphens, Common Moorhens, and an Indian Cormorant added to our list. We watched Sunbirds and Flowerpeckers, too.

Sunbird’s nest

IMG_2153

Oriental Darter

IMG_2157

Nor was there a lack of other creatures to observe. Today certainly seemed to be Spider Day! Wood Spiders, Orb Weavers, Tent Spiders, Signature Spiders, Comb-footed Spiders, Social Spiders…what a variety of them we were privileged to see this morning!

Butterflies, dragonflies, and damselflies, too, dotted our walk and it was nice to see ants farming hoppers on the Milkweed plants. Siri was the only child on the walk, but she was most interested in everything, even though a snail shell had her drawing back in disgust!

IMG_2095

Green Lynx Spider with fly kill.

IMG_2172

A variety of wild plants were all around us. I showed them the Abutilon, the Devil’s Coach Whip, the Coat Button flowers, and the heart-shaped mark on the seeds of the Balloon Vine, that gives it the scientific name “cardiospermum” (cardio=heart, spermum=seed).Evolvulus, Justicia, Richardia, Senna, bloomed everywhere.The water hyacinth led the list of invasive plants, with Parthenium, Lantana, Eupatorium there too. We looked at the monocultures of Acacia and Eucalyptus.

Returning, we paused at the Adi Parasakhti temple that has been recently built, next to the huge old Mahua tree, which was fruiting.

IMG_2100

MBK aaked an intriguing question about why the tree dropped all its seeds near itself rather than trying to disperse it far and wide. (Want to know the answer? Email him!) We shared the variety of snacks that we brought, and having restored our tissues, walked back to our waiting commitments elsewhere and the routine of our weekday lives.

Some of us stopped for breakfast at South Inn, on Sarjapura Road, as we returned that way.

IMG_2189

Replete, and charged up with the easy companionship of a morning spent in Nature, we wended our way homewards.

Many thanks to Deepak, who came along in spite of running a fever the previous day. As one of us had locked the key inside the car, he stayed until the issue was sorted out (Gautam went to the village and got a mechanic from a garage, who opened the car in a few minutes!), before leaving.

Small Salmon Arab.

IMG_2180

MBK made the point that the walk must start later to allow students to join in. However, on my own walks, I ensure that college students and young women are provided safe transportation, and have many of them on walks that start sharp at 6.30am. It just takes a little extra effort to accommodate people in cars; and it results in everyone meeting new people and bonds the group together!

So please, if you have any difficulty with transportation on the 3rd and 4th Sunday walks, do ask on the group if someone is coming from your area; people are generally happy to share a ride, and people like me, who do not have a car, or have trouble with the low frequency and late start of public transport on a Sunday, can still enjoy these outings.

I have put up an album of my photos on FB,

here

and on Flickr,

here

I have taken a short video of the group while we took a snack break:

Shyam and others, wishing you a good time for the rest of the Sunday, (I mean the siesta as well as the time left!) and a productive week ahead.

Cheers, Deepa.

4th Sunday outing, March ’18, and bird census: Hoskote kere, 250318

March 27, 2018

Email to bngbirds egroup:

IMG_3107

I had been toying with the idea of making Hoskote kere the venue for the 4th Sunday outing, when the email from Swaroop and his team arrived, announcing the bird count there. That made the decision easy, and several of us gathered at 6.30am at the Gangamma temple on the bund of the lake.
IMG_3120

We had a good mix of experts and newbies, children and adults, binoculars and bazookas 😀

IMG_3124

Swaroop and his team

IMG_3122

sent us in several directions, to see what we could see, and document what we saw. The paths were as as follows:

Dipu K, et al: north west edge
Rajneesh Suvarna, et al: Raghavendra Talkies
Vinay Bharadwaj, et al: east edge
Ashwin Viswanathan. et al: west edge:
Deepa Mohan, et al: Meeting point plus south-west edge

I was happy to take the children from Om Shri School along, as part of the initiative to involve schools.I found the children very interested; they patiently learnt how to use my binoculars, used the scope often, and asked a lot of questions too. I was able to show them almost all the birds that we sighted, and the bird scope was used well!

I started off with group, looking at the woodland birds in the plant clutter on both sides of the road. As the mist slowly lifted, we walked down the path with the lake waters along both sides. I have never before been able to walk past the "isthmus" that juts out into the water; in fact, a couple of months ago, the lake was so brimful of water that birders could not go down at all, and had to be content with birding from the bund along the Gangamma temple.

Robins, sunbirds, prinias and others were pointed out but then we got a few Baillon's Crakes

IMG_3157

in the water hyacinth at water level, and most of us got busy clicking these usually skulky and shy birds, which will soon begin their migration.

IMG_3169

IMG_3169

Garganeys

IMG_3237

But our "regulars"….the Spot-billed Pelicans, Little Grebes, Coots, and Herons (like this Grey Heron)

IMG_3119

kept us all occupied as we watched them. There were Black and Brahminy Kites in the air, joined by a lone Marsh Harrier, another winter visitor which was looking for prey. Rosy Pastors

IMG_3212

flew over the water and settled in the dry trees. We saw Barn Swallows,

IMG_3256

as well as the Red-rumped, Wire-tailed, and Streak-throated variety.

It was nice to see both kinds of Jacanas, Pheasant-tailed

IMG_3223

IMG_3221

and Bronze-winged,

IMG_3198

in the lake; similarly, Yellow, Grey and White-browed Wagtails flew around. One "dip" was the Pied Kingfisher, but we spotted the Small Blue and the White-throated Kingfishers.

Glossy Ibis

IMG_3209

Blyth's Reed Warbler

IMG_3204

Schoolchildren, along with the teacher, using the scope and binoculars

IMG_3235

Our group

IMG_3258

The children of Om Shri School

IMG_3263

Sandpipers, too, made their appearance, flying around with their typical calls. We noted Egrets, both Intermediate and Small. Spot-billed Ducks and Garganeys flew over the water and settled down, and were quite easy to show to the children. In fact, I was wondering if the children, or the schoolmaster who accompanied them, could take so many names thrown at them at the same time! I know I would have found it difficult to remember. But their interest did not flag, and after a certain point, it was I who had to call them back to return. It is very satisfying to be able to show people a whole lot of birds on their first outing!

Ants

IMG_3246

Water cabbage, an acquatic plant:

IMG_3185

Line-up of many of my group:

IMG_3267

Valli and Janhvi helped me with the app and physical paper entries, and we had to catch up with the bird names every now and then, as each of us spotted different birds! It was nice to have a problem of plenty.

Fish caught at the lake is sold on the bund every morning.

IMG_3268

Children on the lake reaches

IMG_3183

An array of snacks, including Manoj's mom-made alu parathas, kept us going.

IMG_3240

Return we did, to a hearty breakfast provided by the Karnataka Forest Department (KFD).

IMG_3269

Some of the teams whose transects were further afield did not return for a while, but all of us were very satisfied birders that morning! It sometimes happens that some paths have less birds ( on a census/bird count, it's our duty just to record what see, whether the numbers are lower or higher) but it's a great feeling when everyone returns with a satisfactory count of species. One group sighted the Eurasian Wryneck, which is a new bird-sighting for this lake.

Thanks to Valli, I met Arun and his friend, from the Andamans, and they gave us insights into the birding scene where they come from.

Our grateful thanks to Swaroop and team who provided us a great opportunity to see the variety of birds that Hoskote kere has to offer. Swaroop, Praveen and Nagabhushana say that 126 species were sighted during the morning, by over 120 volunteers! A big thank you for providing this opportunity for the 4th Sunday outing.

IMG_3276

Fishing boats

IMG_3118

For the next few months, we will concentrate more on the resident birds in and around our city, and bid goodbye to our winter visitors.

The eBird checklist for my group is

here

Swaroop will provide the links to the other checklists.

I have put up my photographs (not by a DSLR camera, and not only birds…there is even a photo of some beautiful ants!) on my FB album,

here

Cheers, Deepa.