Posts Tagged ‘scenery’

Two Malkohas and an unknown Owl: Valley School area, 300717

August 1, 2017

The fifth Sunday of the month, when it occurs, is an occasion when the “bngbirds” umbrella birding group of Bangalore does not have an organized bird walk; it’s time for most of us to earn back some brownie points, or at least get out of the doghouse, by attending to home,families, and other social commitments.

But alas, alas, several of us don’t heed the call to redemption. When Sangita S Mani, who works for Kanha Taj Safaris, told me that she’s in town, and that though she’s been working in Madhya Pradesh for about 12 years now, she’s not birded in Bangalore…it was too good a chance to pass up! Aravind, Padma, Ramaswamy, Srini and I bore her off to the Valley School area.

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I never go to any destination with any particular bird or other sighting in mind. In general, I am content to see what comes my way. However, Sangita particularly wanted to see the Blue-faced Malkoha, and we hoped that this would not be the one day when the bird decided to skulk successfully in the foliage!

We started out with loud calls from the peafowl (though we never saw one of these birds throughout the morning), and carried on along the path,

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sighting White-cheeked and Coppersmith Barbets, and a beautiful Black-shouldered Kite perched on a bare tree. Several birds like the Ashy Prinia, a quick-fleeing Spotted Owlet, Small Minivets

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and White-eyes

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brought us just past the last banyan tree before the abandoned building. Though our names had been the first on the school register, by this time, several others had preceded us with their cameras and binoculars, and two of them were looking into an Acacia tree just beyond the stone seat in the field. “Sirkeer Malkoha,” said one of them, and yes, there the bird was…I was seeing it at the Valley after a long gap, and for some of my friends, it was a lifer, too.

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Just a little later, as we walked along looking up at the swifts and swallows swooping above us, the Blue-faced Malkoha also granted Sangita’s wish.

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Meanwhile, we’d also sighted three flycatchers: a Tickell’s Blue singing its heart out,

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a dancing White-browed Fantail, and a Paradise Flycatcher with an almost-full tail, swishing itself rufously about, to our cries of “There it is…no, it’s moved…it went there…there it is now…oh, it’s gone!”

A White-naped Woodpecker was an uncommon sighting, as it worked its way along the bark of a bare tree.

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My friends had a great experience of a mixed hunting party, quite large, all foraging in the area near the wall, and were very happy with their observation of how the different birds fed together. In many Hindu cultures, we have the concept of the “samaaraadhana” where people belonging to all castes and communities have a meal together, and this was the birding equivalent!

The plants and six-footers caught our attention too.

Crimson Rose

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Common Gull

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Psyche….it wanders about like the spirit (in Greek) it’s named after.

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Dark Blue Tiger

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White Orange-tip

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Shield Bug

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Gram Blue on Grewia sp.

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Golden Eggs of Coreidae bug:

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Bagworm Moth pupa on spiderweb

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Moth caterpillars with egg:

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Beautiful berries

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? tiny flower

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Bauhinia purpurea

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Allmania nodiflora

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We walked into the bamboo thicket and heard another Tickell’s Blue singing; several babblers gave voice in the bushes on the way there. Raptors never fail to arrive when they can be seen for the shortest time, and a Short-toed Snake Eagle shot past the small gap between the bamboo leaves.

We decide to take a calorie break, and ate some pongal with roasted appalam. Some of us were scheduled to attend formal lunches, and I hoped to avoid the usual “brefus stop” on the way home.

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(But of course, I wanted a bit of caffeine on the way home and when we stopped at Vidyarthi Grand, the coffee somehow developed into a proper breakfast! I am certainly not fast…on either expertise with the natural world, or with avoiding food!)

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We were very like the seamen of old being led on by the Lorelei, as we walked towards where we felt the call of the White-rumped Shama was coming from. As we did so, Srini sighted an owl sitting high up on a tree; it flew away almost immediately, but we feel it was not the Brown Wood Owl, but rather, a Mottled Wood Owl (I’ve seen one often in the area behind the abandoned house, which is now walled off.)

The Shama treated us to a couple of sightings in the misty morning,

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and full of its beautiful song,

we turned back towards the main gate, and so off towards what the Sunday held for each of us. Our hearts, binoculars, memory cards were all filled with images of the morning.

The eBird list, compiled by Aravind, is

here

I have put up photos on my FB album

here </a.

(as usual, documenting the morning, not focusing on any one living creature).

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Cheers, Deepa.

Yediyur kere, 250317

March 25, 2017

Email to the bngbirds egroup:

Hi everyone,

I am not immune to FB posts, so when there was a sudden rush of bird sightings from Yediyur kere, I realized that I’d not visited for many years. When Padma and Ramaswamy suggested going there this morning, I was very happy to join them.

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So many trees have fresh leaves right now, like this Peepal tree:

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I still wish we could have an ongoing online form for the lake census and keep adding our data whenever we visit any kere. This lake is maintained well, and the water quality seems good. However, the fact of its being completely fenced around, and having all growth stunted
to bush size except for a few spots, made it feel more “manicured” than I am comfortable with…but that’s a matter of personal choice!

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A seat that cannot be accessed!

We entered the area to a rising orchestra of White-cheeked Barbets, and the unmusical calls of Rose-ringed Parakeets as they flocked to the Akasha Mallige, Peepal and Dolichendrone trees. As we slowly started moving along the path, we were treated to the sights and sounds of several Koels; whether the bodies were black or spotted, the ruby eyes were the same.

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We were, of course, prepared for the “usual gang of suspects” after which our birding group is named; but as always, something unexpected, and something interesting, happened!

We were watching both a group of Spot-billed Ducks and some domesticated mallard-derivatives (I don’t know the correct name for these interbreeds!) when suddenly, a group of drakes decided to “advance” on a female. She sank into the water under their combined
onslaught. She managed to flap her way away from the other three, but a fourth was very persistent, and made quite a nuisance of himself. It was obvious that the lady was not willing.

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Another duck, who saw the fracas,suddenly decided to come to her friend’s aid. She flapped her wings at the drake until he released the besieged duck, and both the ladies happily swam away, at the end of a successful rescue mission! We could not help laughing even as we
watched intently.

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A Black-crowned Night Heron skulked under a Lantana bush in the middle
of the lake.

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An unexpected sighting was that of a Spotted Owlet as it flew for a short distance out of the large Ficus benjamina trees, and back in.

One Dolichendrone tree close to the entrance suddenly seemed to become a hotbed of small-bird activity.

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The seed-pods, with their typical spiralling shapes, had already set, and there were no flowers…but yet, Sunbirds, Tailorbirds, Pale-billed Flowerpeckers, a Blyth’s Reed
Warbler, and some Ashy Prinias…all kept the tree literally “hopping”, and we were able to listen to their calls, too. These are occasions when one can practice birding “by ear”, and have the id validated by what one sees.

I was rather intrigued by a brick “bird wall” that had been set up at one place:

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…and concrete “bird holes” in another “bird corner”. It will be fun to see if birds do take up nesting in these holes. But meanwhile, watching Black Kites bringing in twigs to make their homes was interesting enough! A White-throated Kingfisher added its bright blue back and lipstick mouth as it waited for a catch.

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It was fun to
watch a Boating Pond Heron…it just sat on one of the boats in the water (kept there to clean the lake, I think), as it scanned the water for breakfast!

Two groups of Rosy Pastors flying overhead, their local cousins, the Common and (the always well-groomed) Jungle Mynas,and the bisyllabic call of one Green Warbler (thank you for the call tutorials, Mike and Ulhas, they’ve been useful!)…between our eyes and ears, we didn’t
know where two hours went, and we left the place before the lake was locked up. I will never understand why our lakes and parks are kept locked through the day…what are we trying to prevent?

I did look at a lot of flowers, plants and trees as well:

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Finding out names (hoping to remember them, not always successfully!) will occupy me for a while. Watching some hornets beginning to make a nest on the underside of a leaf was also fascinating.

Well satisfied with our morning, we went off for khaali dosa at the excellent eatery (Brahmin’s Special, no relation to the Basavanagudi Brahmin’s!) near my home, arranging to meet for tomorrow’s outing to Hessarghatta Lake.

Spending time with good friends, looking at many things, under the
shade of greenery, dappled with golden morning sunlight…how lucky I
am to be able to do this!

Hoping to meet some of you tomorrow,

Cheers, Deepa.

My photos are on an FB album

here

The bird list (very respectable!) is

here

Birding on the first day of 2017, Ramnagara

January 2, 2017

Just four of us: Jayashree, Padma, Ramaswamy and I…went to

Ramnagara

for some evening birding, and to see the critically endangered

Long-billed Vultures

at the betta.

On the way, we saw three Spotted Owlets in a tree.

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The beautiful rocky outcrops welcomed us in the evening sunlight.

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Usually, the gates to the hill are closed, but on this day, they were open, and I clicked several cars coming down after the passengers had visited the rAmA temple at the top.

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We saw a couple of

Egyptian Vultures

first:

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and we were also able to locate their nest.

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and then I saw this

Short-toed Snake Eagle

perched high on the edge of the cliff.

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It then treated us to a flight display as well:

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Muniyappa, a young boy from the nearby settlement, came to join us. He was quite good at spotting birds, too.

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Jai lent him her binoculuars.

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Finally, a lone

Long-billed Vulture

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came out on to the ledge and preened itself, delighting all of us.

The sun sank behind the hills on the opposite side,

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and I captured Jai against the moon and Venus.

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We stopped at Bidadi for

thatte iddli

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on the way home, and though Jai had to do some marathon driving through the choked highway, we returned home content with our evening’s birding!

Pics on my FB album

here

Sunset and Sunrise on the Kaveri, 06 and 070115

January 14, 2015

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And now for the next morning’s sunrise…

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The road, the river, the birds, the beings…Galibore trip,221114

December 3, 2014

The road…

It unites so many lives.

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People drive on it

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Some just walk on it

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Some lead their animals on it..

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Sometimes buildings, especially temples, are built right on it..

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Eateries survive near it:

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Several creatures thrive near it:

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My friends discuss their photographs, standing on it:

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There are havens at the end of the road:

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On an urban road is the statue of a bird-lover:

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The River.

The Kaveri is beautiful…

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The birds:

Rose-ringed Parakeet at nest:

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Rosy Starlings and Common Mynas:

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Pied Bushchat:

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Grey Heron:

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Spot-billed Pelican:

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Spot-billed Duck:

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Fish in the water:

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Paddyfield Pipit:

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Painted Stork:

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Short-toed Snake Eagle:

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Red-wattled Lapwing:

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White-throated Kingfisher:

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Oriental Honey Buzzard:

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Plants:

Leo otis, or Lion’s Ear:

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Gall on the leaves:

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A beautiful wildflower:

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the Shankha Pushpi (Shell flower)

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A jewel bug:

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Grass Yellows mud-puddling:

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A tiny, perfect grasshopper:

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A dragonfly:

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If you want to suffer even more photos, see my FB album

here

Let me close with this view of the Kaveri:

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A movie of my favourite haunt: Bannerghatta, zoo area, 261114

November 28, 2014

Instead of the pictures, this time I decided to try and make a movie, and here goes:

Hope you enjoy the images!

More photos on my FB album,

here

Tower Grove Park with Edge Wade, 071014

October 8, 2014

Edge drove down all the way from Columbia to take me to Tower Grove Park, and it proved to be an enormously rewarding outing.

We started with cloudy and overcast weather, and it took a while for us to see some birds; but suddenly, there was an eruption of Warblers in just two or three trees,not too far from the Cypress Grove…. and other birds, too!

Edge emailed me later, ” Warblers we saw were Yellow-rumped (Myrtle subspecies), Tennessee, American Redstart and Nashville. Also saw several Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Blue-headed Vireo,Carolina Wren, Eastern-Wood-pewee, Carolina Chickadee, and Tufted Titmouse, as well as the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Hairy, Downy and Red-bellied Woodpeckers.”

I learnt a lot, too. For example, when Yellow-rumped Warblers arrive, it means that most of the other Warblers have already left. And that there are about 33 species that pass through Missouri during the migration period!

Here’s one

YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER:

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A

TUFTED TITMOUSE

pecked for insects among the leaves.

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Here’s a

BLUE-HEADED VIREO

which, Edge said, was quite a special sighting:

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I was able to catch a

WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH

on the tree-trunk:

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And just when I thought I’d hit the highlight of the morning…we saw a Red-bellied Woodpecker, and a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, on the same tree, too! It was Woodpecker Central, and we just needed a Northern Flicker, a Pileated Woodpecker, and a Red-headed Woodpecker to have a complete smorgasbrod of them!

It was quite amazing to me to be able to actually see and compare a Downy and Hairy Woodpecker at the same time, on the same tree.

Here’s the Hairy:

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Here’s the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker:

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This photo definitely shows that it’s a wood pecker!

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Here’s the

RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER:

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Look at that checkerboard back!

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An

EASTERN PEEWEE

against the light:

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Edge told me that these

WARBLERS

are very versatile; they exhibit warbler, thrush and flycatcher behaviour (flitting through the trees, turning over leaf-litter on the ground, and hawking insects from the air)…

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A female

NORTHERN CARDINAL

was around, too:

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The

CAROLINA WREN

seems to be the American counterpart of our Ashy Prinia…a loud voice in a small bird.

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Edge’s call brought the bird out in a militant mood; they do not like intruders on their territory.

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We sat for a while at the Bubbler; there were no birds to be seen, but the peace of the place seeped into my soul.

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We saw some Mallards on the water, and it struck me how, for a colourless liquid, water takes on the most amazing hues!

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It reminded me of the water around this Wood Duck in Forest Park:

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Edge shared a lot of knowledge about plants, too; this meant that when we didn’t sight birds, there was still a lot of interesting stuff to see and learn about.

This is the Hedge Apple, also called the

OSAGE ORANGE

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Here’s one fruit on the tree:

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The tree trunk is quite amazing:

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Edge said that she’s usually seen trees being much smaller than these. The fruits are not eaten by any animal or bird, and many lay there on the ground…quite an unusual sight in Nature!

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The fruit had a tart, tangy smell, and seemed very fibrous.

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the

STAGHORN SUMAC.

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is so called for the shape of its infloresence. I was lucky to see a small tree in full bloom. Here’s Edge, showing it to me:

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We saw the plaque for Torrey Berger, who, Edge informed me, invented the term “Birders’ Direct Route”…which could take a birder one to a thousand miles off the mapped route!

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These berries were beautiful.

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Here’s a

BLACK WALNUT:

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The conifer had gall that looked like brains!

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Here’s a pic to show the tiny berry-cones and the gall:

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We don’t know what tree this is, but it’s so beautiful!

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The

SYCAMORE

tree-trunk is a work of abstract art!

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Edge told me this ground cover plant is called Gill O’Ground.

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This tiny flower is Cinque, a kind of Clover:

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I clicked some of the landmarks, such as this Turkish Pavilion (dating from 1872!)

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This is the Bandstand:

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It’s surrounded by the busts of Western classical musicians.

Beethoven:

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Wagner:

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and several others.

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How old is this seat, I wonder?

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Here’s Edge, eating the Uppma that I made, and liking it…she shared some lovely dark chocolate and pickled gherkins with me!

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I loved the punny slogan on her cap!

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Edge dropped me home, and there were these two Grasshoppers, which I had to click:

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A collage of fall leaves is foliage follage!

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I hope you enjoyed my outing as much as I did…thank you, Edge, for a wonderful time!

Riverlands Bird Sanctuary, with Edge and June, 230914 (Part 2: Confluence nature trail)

September 25, 2014

When we finished at the dam, and had our coffee (thankfully, they didn’t say it tasted odd!) Edge suggested we go to the Confluence Point.

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We had lunch (I completely forgot to take a photo of it…phulka/veg wraps, and soft drinks to go with it) Here are Edge and June with the coffee, instead!

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Here they after lunch, just before starting on the trail.

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We started on the trail; the time of day, possibly, was not the best for birding, and we didn’t see any. But that bothered me not at all, as both Edge and June are so knowledgeable about everything else I saw, and I got such a lot of information!

The beginning of the trail had a lot of information:

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The pioneers of the westward expansion:

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So too did the end point, where the two rivers meet:

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Imagine the water being that high!

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Butterflies:

I watched a lot of Monarch butterflies. They weren’t migrating in clouds, like the nature documentaries showed; there was one, here and there, flying around…

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Here are a couple of un id butterflies:

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Wildflowers:

Several delighted me..

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This plant belongs to the Nightshade family:

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We found this plant had a strange aroma, but June couldn’t place the name.

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This is Bindweed, considered a pest in gardens:

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Clover family:

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Wild Gentian:

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Autumn is coming, and the plants let us know:

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Here’s a burr that inspired Velcro:

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A wildflower from the pea family:

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This is Illinois Bundleweed, in its dry form.

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Here’s the fresh variety:

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And the leaves:

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Insects:

June pointed out these larvae, which were eating the plants around:

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Several very large grasshoppers had me hopping after them!

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Can you spot the damselfly?

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Well, I managed to get a close-up:

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Several beetles zipped along our path:

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This fat spider swung in the sunshine:

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and this little jewel closer to the ground:

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Tent caterpillars are considered pests, but that doesn’t take away the marvel of their engineering!

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I got a Hornet on a wildflower:

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And, later, on a bench:

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Here’s a ground beetle on the Goldenrod:

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We discussed centipedes and whether they were poisonous:

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A Harvestman (Daddy Long Legs…just LOOK at those legs!) was a treat to see.

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So was a Cranefly.

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Amphibians:

This beautiful toad was not easy to see.

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It took a lot of effort to take a pic where the creature is not melding into the surrounding leaf litter!

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Edge caught one so I could get him (or her):

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Then I managed to get it on the path:

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The scenery:

The weather and the open countryside were both beautiful.

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The Mississippi:
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The confluence of the mighty Mississippi and the Missouri rivers:

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Here’s Edge on the trail, with those 3 extra legs of hers:

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Here’s June, trying out her new attachment, which allows her to take pics on the phone through her scope:

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The two steadfast friends walk the paths of Nature and Life together:

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We finally went to the Audubon Center to have a look around:

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Edge, my heartfelt thanks to you!

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Roxen Lake, Linkoping, Sweden, 290714

August 3, 2014

Lake Roxen

is one of the beautiful attractions in the Swedish town of Linkoping, and since I’d borrowed a small folding bike, and I decided to cycle down (we’d walked to the lake previously.)

The weather was very unusually warm even for Swedish summer, but I manfully (womanfully?) pedalled my two tiny wheels, and we started with this beautiful rainbow (though I couldn’t see any rain clouds!)

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We cycled through brown grass and green:

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We came to the place where the road to the lake branched off from the highway:

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A fleecy dolphin floated overhead:

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We explored a place where there was massive earth-moving and construction going on; Barn Swallows were swooping around, taking mud for their nests.

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Here’s my cycle, and the earthmover!

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Wildflowers bloomed everywhere:

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this is wild dill:

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Taking a rough path instead of the road, we found it very enjoyable:

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A

COMMON TORTOISESHELL

sat with its wings closed:

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So did another butterfly:

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There were several

EUROPEAN GREENFINCHES around,

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feeding on the berries:

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A

COMMON KESTREL

delighted me, high overhead:

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Roly-poly, curly-woolly sheep grazed on the farmland:

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Horses rubbed against each other, companionably:

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the golden wheat was nearly ready for harvesting:

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I could spot the lake:

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We rode up to the water:

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A beautifully-flowering acquatic plant welcomed us.

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As did a sitting

ARCTIC TERN

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and several ducks:

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The houses on the lake were picture-perfect:

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The sun in the trees and the reeds was beautiful.

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I was thrilled to spot a

MUTE SWAN

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The swan moved in front of the resting GULLS:

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It was quite far away, but my zoom came in handy:

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then I sawa whole family, with parents and three cygnets:

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This Swan family was one of the highlights, indeed, of my visit to Scandinavia.

Then came the sight of this

GREAT CRESTED GREBE

that I have seen before only in the lap of the Himalaya!

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We discovered even more when we came back to the area the next day…but that’s the next post!

Ales Stenar, Sweden, 040714

July 14, 2014

“Ale’s Stones (or Ales stenar in Swedish) is a megalithic monument in Skåne in southern Sweden. It is a stone ship, oval in outline, with the stones at each end markedly larger than the rest. It is 67-metres long formed by 59 large boulders, weighing up to 1.8 tonnes each,” says the Wiki.

We took the road from Tomelilla to Ystad:

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We passed some beautiful buildings on the way:

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It was wonderful to see so many cycles!

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One cyclist reminded me of me!

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We went through fields of poppies:

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and potatoes:

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We entered Kaseberga:

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I’d made a packed lunch, and we sat and ate it with relish!

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(That dahi is TEN PERCENT FAT!!!)

Both the cultivars and the wildflowers, like this Swedish Jasmine (or perhaps it is Mockorange?) were beautiful!

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This Hollyhock was nearly black!

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Nina id’d the Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea), which can be medicinal or toxic to humans, depending on its use:

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Bluebells nodded in the breeze:

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Poppies laughed in the wind:

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They were beautiful, whether or not I knew their names!

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Imagine having rambler roses growing wild!

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The souvenir shop was very colourful:

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Some gates were obviously not used!

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Some wall decorations were lovely:

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We walked past this ancient cottage, dreaming in the sunshine.

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Who’s more beautiful…Nina or the poppies?

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Fat, woolly sheep were grazing everywhere:

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We approached the stone “ship”:

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We found some paragliding attempts in progress, but there was not a stiff enough breeze.

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We sighted the Baltic Sea:

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the cove had a sandy beach:

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At last we were near Ales Stenar:

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But you think I’m going to let you see it? I’d got sidetracked by some beautiful butterflies in the grass:

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The sea called everyone:

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Ok, ok! Here is the stone ship, from prehistoric times…

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I was again sidetracked by many larks, that went up in the air to sing:

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They landed again (I had to keep far from them!)

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Here’s a short video of their behaviour:

Back to the awe-inspiring Ales Stenar!

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Amongst the ancient stones, a traditional pastime, kite-flying, was being tried out:

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The grasses and the sea made a stunning combination!

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So did the wildflowers and the sky:

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A puff of wind would play parent…

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The product of this seed would set me dreaming in a different way 😀

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Houses talked about the past, too:

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Windows were works of art:

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Treasures lay spilled:

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Some houses were mute; it was their thatched roofs that harked back to ancient times, and it was as if an eye was open in that roof:

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Some of the houses were pretty old, too, if not pre-historic!

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I caught these two Hooded Crows, feeding:

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Avoiding the ice-creams and other calorific snacks, we got into Nina’s car and drove to Glimminghuse Castle…but that’s the next post!