Posts Tagged ‘school’

Visit to Shivamogga, Mathur, Kudli, and Sakrebailu, 080417 to 100417

April 19, 2017

Kiran Kannappan and I went to Shivamogga to help conduct a summer camp for 85 rural children, under the aegis of

Vatsalya

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run by Shaila, Shruthi and Adarsh

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Morning prayer

Story-telling, some Sanskrit shlOkAs,

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nature around the campus, basic birding

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Red-wattled Lapwing on the school campus

basic origami,

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basic cartooning

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…these were some of the things we went through with the very receptive children.

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On the 9th evening, we visited

Mathur

where Sanskrit is taught, and still used extensively. We visited a couple who have settled down there, having built this beautiful house:

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Lakshmi Narasimha temple, Mathur

We then went to the shAradA temple at Kudli

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as it was about to close.

On 100417, we visited the Sakrebailu Elephant Camp.

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Kiran decided that we would return by the afternoon train rather than wait for the overnight one…so a memorable visit to Shivamogga came to a conclusion!

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The Valley area, 050217: Email to bngbirds egroup

February 7, 2017

Hi everyone,

As I begin to write this, my mind wanders in several directions. One, the wonderful writing of “ixedoc”, Dr Arunachalam Kumar, each of whose vignettes I look forward to reading.

Another: the increasing difficulty of going birding or “naturing” in terms of the hassle it is to drive back home.

Yet another: The increasing difficulty of access to our wildlife areas.

But I will not digress (the digress being the female of the diger) and will write about one area, off Kanakapura Road, where the wilderness of the Bannerghatta scrub jungle awaits us,and where access is relatively easy.

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The Valley, as the area where the Valley School is situated, is a place where the forest leads the nature lover into both open grassland and shaded woods.And recently, bird sightings there have been of the unusual variety. My friend Chandu sighted an Ultramarine Flycatcher when he took the children of Aarohi School there for the HSBC Bird Race (in the space of two visits, we were able to sight a Racket-tailed Drongo, and on Sunday (5th Feb 2017) we were able to sight a Brown Wood Owl (Yogesh Badri’s photo of it is

here

…he quickly followed the bird as it flew, and got the shot)

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Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher

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Verditer Flycatcher

All these “unusuals” lead to a lot of interest in a birding destination….but the true value of a birding “hotspot” lies,for avid birders, not only in the unusual, but also the usual.(MBK made this very valid point when spoke on the occasion of the 2016 Bird Race.)

What would one see,if one went, say, in the middle of summer? Would we be looking at the butterflies instead, or would we still see enough birds to hold our interest, and make an enjoyable morning of our outing? We may be more used to the burbling call of the Joker-cheek-patch Red-whiskered Bulbul, or the trill of the Small Green Bee-eaters, but they are no less beautiful than the rarely-sighted birds. Watching a Tailorbird bringing in nesting
material, or enjoying the way a Brahminy Kite soars and dips along the wind currents is as appealing as the sudden and unexpected thrill of a “rare” sighting…and on the days when the latter does not happen, the “usual” is what keeps us going back for more (the English word, not the Hindi one, though “mor” is also a bird frequently found at the Valley).

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Selfie.

As the winter mornings warm up, the thought of the long trudge back through the path where there are only the two banyan trees to give shade until we come back to the School main gate…

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may be daunting,but it’s the “usual gang of suspects” that take us through to the bamboo thicket and beyond.

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Seed pod.

Here’s a happy White-cheeked Barbet, secure in its nest, smiling at us!

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lagOri, Kaikondrahalli kere, 080117

January 8, 2017

We often lament about our children using tablets and X-boxes all the time…but I find, often that even our urban children are quite in touch with the traditional games of childhood.

Today, when I went to Kaikondrahalli lake, I found this pile of flat stones, with a young girl piling them up carefully.

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I knew that a game of

Lagori

was in progress, and waited a bit while the girls surrounded the pile of stones and began their game.

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The game involves a ball and a pile of flat stones, generally played between two teams in a large outdoor area. A member of one team (the seekers) throws a tennis ball at a pile of stones to knock them over. The seekers then try to restore the pile of stones while the opposing team (the hitters) throws the ball at them. If the ball touches a seeker, she is out and her team continues without her. A seeker can always safeguard herself by touching an opposite team member before the ball hits her.

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There are some other rules that may be added in different regions of the country.

So here, to please all of us, is the scene of children (the girls were dressed to the nines for an event at their school, which is adjacent to the kere) playing a traditional game which does not need electricity, and which is one that their parents and grandparents have probably played!

K1’s progress with Hindi: Blr, 110716

July 11, 2016

She first looked at the Hindi alphabet in March of this year…and I think her progress (while handling so much that is new and tough) is excellent. Here she is (as usual, in the car!) reciting a Hindi poem about a bird:

Both my daughter and my granddaughter continue to amaze me….!

Valley School and Vaderhalli Kere, 021214

December 2, 2014

Email to bngbirds:

Highlight of my morning!

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A quick decision made Amith

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Gayatri

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and me, decide not to go to Nandi Hills as per our original plan but to visit Valley School; the three of us set off in the pre-dawn darkness, and though birding was a bit slow as we drove down the road to the Valley, things picked up once we started walking along the periphery of the School wall.

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It was delightful to walk along the familiar path after a long absence, and the bamboo groves certainly did not disappoint us!

A new raptor added to the usual Honey Buzzards seems to be the Black-shouldered Kite, of which we saw two sitting on a tree. We therefore assume that the raptor that we saw in the distance, with hovering behaviour, was not a Kestrel but one of these birds.

The Warblers, of course, delighted us, and we were often at a loss to identify various songs, or know if it was the Black Drongo that was fooling us!

A Tawny-bellied Babbler was an unsual sighting, as was that of a Jerdon’s (I think…please confirm the id) Nightjar…not on the ground, but quite high up on a tree!

The White-rumped Shama and the Asian Paradise Flycatcher flaunted themselves briefly before us.

After the Valley, we went further to Vaderahalli Lake,

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and enjoyed the sight of many waterfowl. Brahminy and Black Kites soared and swooped, and we came to breakfast at Adiga’s refreshed in mind and spirit.

The birds (those at Vaderahalli are marked with V):

Babbler, Jungle
Babbler, Tawny-bellied

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Babbler, Yellow-billed

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Barbet, Coppersmith
Barbet, White-cheeked
Bee-eater, Green
Bulbul, Red-vented
Bulbul, Red-whiskered
Bulbul, White-browed
Bushchat, Pied
Bushlark, Indian

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Coot, Common (V)
Cormorant, Little (V)
Cormorant, Great (V)
Coucal, Greater
Crow, House
Crow, Large-billed
Cuckoo, Common Hawk
Dove, Eurasian Collared
Dove, Laughing
Dove, Spotted
Drongo, Ashy
Drongo, Black
Ducks, Spot-billed (V)
Egret, Little (V)
Egret, Intermediate (V)
Flameback, Black-rumped
Flowerpecker, Pale-billed
Flycatcher, Asian Paradise
Flycatcher, Tickell’s Blue
Flycatcher, White-browed Fantail
Grebe, Little (V)
Heron, Indian Pond (V)
Honey-buzzard, Oriental
Iora, Common
Kingfisher, White-throated
Kite, Black
Kite, Black-shouldered

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Kite, Brahminy

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Koel, Asian
Lapwing, Red-wattled (V)
Minivet, Small
Myna, Common
Myna, Jungle
Nightjar

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Oriole, Eurasian Golden
Owlet, Spotted
Parakeet, Rose-ringed
Pelican, Spot-billed (V)
Prinia, Ashy
Robin, Indian
Robin, Oriental Magpie
Sandpiper, Green (V)
Shama, White-rumped
Sparrow, House
Stonechat, Common (V)
Sunbird, Purple-rumped
Swallow, Barn
Swallow, Red-rumped
Swift, Asian Palm
Tailorbird, Common
Tern, River (V)
Tern, Whiskered(V)
Tit, Great
Treepie, Rufous
Wagtail, White-browed (V)
Warbler, Booted
Warbler, Greenish

Butterflies:

Blues, Various
Coster, Tawny

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Crow, Common
Emigrant, Common
Lime, Common
Mormon, Commn
Gull. Common

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Pioneer

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Pansy, Chocolate
Pansy, Lemon
Psyche
Rose, Common
Rose, Crimson
Wanderer, Common
Yellow, Spotless Grass
Yellow, Three-spot Grass

I have put up my eBird checklist

here

My FB album is

here

Off to Kelamangalam near Hosur, Tamil Nadu, for an overnight volunteering trip…with the children of Aarohi.

Pleasanter stuff: back with my family…..

August 8, 2014

KTB starts school on Monday, 11th August, 2014; she will attend Wilkinsons School, where she will also participate in a program for gifted children (but will be most of the time with ALL children.)

Here is the family, at the pre-school “picnic” which turned into an indoor meet because of a heavy thunderstorm:

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Here she is, with her class teacher, Miss Paige Blansett:

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With the Principal, Dr Wuchs:

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and last but not least, Our Imp of the (as yet) Illiterate:

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The painters are overrunning their schedule by over a week; the house is topsy-turvy (I can’t even unpack!), A is having an emergency at work and was out at work all night..but family cuddles go on:

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My darlings, it’s worth all the trouble and expense I go through, to see them!

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A morning with children! Valley School, 010614

June 1, 2014

Email to the bngbirds egroup:

I suppose by now everyone who went for the first Sunday outing to Hebbal would have come back, digested breakfast and settled down to the rest of the day…meanwhile, Garima, Jahnvi,Niket, Pradnya, and I went to Valley School to see what the morning would yield.

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Summer colours on the ground:

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In the trees:

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It turned to be a very enjoyable morning..and Valley School always shows us something unexpected. This seemed to be a morning of children! We saw a Jungle Babbler mother literally “spreading her wings” over her baby, as she also preened her baby.

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We saw many juvenile Small Green Bee-eaters. whose plumage lacked the bright sheen of the adults, or the distinctive tail. Coppersmith Barbet “children”, too, were everywhere; the crimson patch on their foreheads not developed yet.

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White-browed Bulbuls

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and Red-whiskered Bulbuls, too, seemed to be flying about with their young ones. We watched several Flamebacks.

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Birders at the Banyan tree near the sheds:

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Spotted Owlet in the Banyan tree:

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Young White-cheeked Barbets:

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The children were not only of the bird species. A few showers have had a magical effect on the landscape in the Valley School area; greenery is bursting forth everywhere, as fresh shoots push their way up through the wet. fecund soil.

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A couple of caterpillars reminded me that babies come in all shapes and sizes. I will be asking for id’s for these; but their beauty by any other name would remain as beautiful.

Here’s one, on a blade of grass:

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Here’s another, on the Calatropis (Milkweed) plant:

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I was also fortunate enough to meet Thomas Job and Ajit Ampalakkad…

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the latter immediately showed me the Indian Lavender plant,

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and proceeded through the morning, to edify me on matters botanical.

Hog-Plum tree:

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I renewed my acquaintance with several trees and plants, and “shook hands” with a few more.

Loranthus (epiphyte), aka Mistletoe:

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There was, indeed, one seed, round and a light mauve in colour, dispersed around one area; that we could not source the parent tree of,or id.

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Grasshopper with a spider sitting on its head:

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Plain Tiger:

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Common Gull:

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Young saplings of Flame of the Forest (Butea monosperma) seem to be coming up in large numbers. This made me dream of the day when, festooned in flame-coloured blooms, these young trees will attract a lot of birds (though Ajit tells me that only one or two species pollinate the tree!). To dream of a Nature Future is lovely, especially when all the land nearby is getting flattened….perhaps for “Prakriti View Layout”s, or perhaps, as Niket said, a temple is going to come up. The green saplings give hope in an atmosphere of pessimism!

I watched several “ant rivers” pouring along the path as their nests must have got submerged…they were busy carrying larvae along. I watched, fascinated, as two Ant-mimicking Spiders fought each other fiercely; the contest ended abruptly, and they went their separate ways.

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A Solitary Hunter Wasp flew along…where would she make her nest and stun her prey,storing it in the nest and laying her eggs on it, so that the newly-hatched children would have fresh food to eat? We just prevented ourselves from walking into a web with a very tiny spider in it…the home was ready, the next step was procreation!

I enjoyed watching the camouflage of the Malkohas, and even of a Jumping Spider that just melted into the tree-trunk with exactly similar markings.

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I did try to catch some of it on my camera…but for the most part, I just watched, and enjoyed myself hugely.

What is the need to build a temple? The whole place, with all our fellow-citizens on this planet, seems to be a temple of Nature to me. I go there, I feel peace in my heart and mind, and come away energized…to me, all of the beautiful wilderness is a temple, and God (I am an agnostic, I don’t know if there is a God or a Goddess..or not) seems to reside in every leaf, every feather, every piece of stone.

We also met several other birders there, and it’s nice to say hello to like-minded people even if one does not exchange names. Two boys from Valley School asked us, on our way out, what we’d seen…and I was happy to see these two youngsters on their way to absorb the various wonders that Nature has in store for them. A magical place, the Valley School area…long may it last!

I’ve put up my SMS (Shamelessly Mediocre Shots) on my FB album at

https://www.facebook.com/deemopahan/media_set?set=a.10152224313113878.1073742178.587058877&type=1

You can see the riotous colours of the summer blossoms, and the many tiny and large wonders that we experienced.

Garima has shared the bird list with me on E-bird. The list is at

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S18643924

I’m not sure if this is good enough, or I need to give another link? Let me know, O ye E-bird savvy birders!

Butterflies:

Blues, Various
Cerulean, Common
Cerulean, Dark
Coster, Tawny
Crimson-tip, White
Emigrant, Common
Gull,Common
Jezebel, Common
Orange-tip, White
Pioneer
Rose, Common
Rose. Crimson
Tiger, Blue
Tiger, Dark Blue
Tiger, Plain
Wanderer, Common
Yellow, Common Grass

Others

Ants, Bees, Beetles, Dragonflies, Grasshoppers, and Wasps.

One Rat Snake, scurrying away quickly from me. This Garden Lizard, basking in the sun.

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If my words make you decide to go into the outdoors next weekend…I am really happy!

Ladybug:

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Riotous colours of summer:

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The abandoned house, Valley School area, 130514

May 14, 2014

In several years of visiting the Valley School area, I’ve passed this abandoned house so many times…but it was only yesterday, when we did “waiting” birding instead of “walking” birding, and when Mark went into the house to explore, that I also decided to walk around and in it.

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I do not know for whom this house was built. It seems a roomy, spacious house. The rooms seem to be of gracious proportions. The arches outside the house look lovely:

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In fact, with the date palms they give a slightly Islamic look:

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Were these sheds, next to the huge banyan tree, meant as outhouses? They also lie abandoned:

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I googled for information, but there is nothing about it. the best guess I can make is that this was built, like the earlier (and now demolished) Art Village, on property that belonged to the Karnataka Forest Department, and was therefore abandoned.

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The windows gape open, with a ghostly look.

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And yet, after all these years, the house looks quite inviting:

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But the only residents there today are the various insects and rodents, and the nests of the swifts in the eaves of the roof. Oh, abandoned house…what is your history? With what hopes and aspirations were you built, and with what frustrations and sorrow were you left, with the construction nearing completion, to deteriorate on your own….with such good quality of construction that today, many years later, many of the panes of glass in your windows are unbroken, and the whole aspect is not that of a ruin? What a mystery!

Two kinds of birding…

May 14, 2014

The

Valley School area

is one of the favourite birding destinations in south Bangalore

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On two days, I was privileged to do two different kinds of birding there.

One outing, on 110514, started at dawn:

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On the 11th, we started from Shoppers’ Stop as a group of 9:

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At the MCS, L to R: . Karuna, Janani, Siva, Varun, Aravind, Venkat, Ragini, Janhvi, yours truly, and Ganesh.

As more friends joined us at the Valley, and we met Swethadri and Kamal Hari, the group swelled to 15!

On this outing, we walked the trail, actively looking for birds, such as this

ROSE-RINGED PARAKEET

on the Silver Oak tree:

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a

CRESTED SERPENT EAGLE:

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the

WHITE-RUMPED SHAMA:

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with many birds, we ended with this

HOOPOE

on the path:

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Of course, I like to see the trees and plants around, too. I could not id this tree:

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The beautiful trunk of a

TAMARIND:

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and its tiny flowers:

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the beauty of the

GULMOHAR

under which I sat for a while:

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the petal of its flower:

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Photography was an active pursuit, too. I am not lying, but the photographer is!

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Ganesh is carefully documenting an insect…

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When one of us got a good shot, the others enjoyed it, too:

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There were quite a few butterflies, and I clicked this

DANAID EGGFLY:

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Some of us wound up with brefus at

Udupi Banashree

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(Yashpal, extreme left, has joined us!)

This active seeking out of the birds is one kind of birding, and on this morning, we were very successful in our quest. We wandered over the bamboo thickets and liana areas, and a variety of bird sightings rewarded us.

On the 13th, it was just Rosita,

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her son Mark, who’s an excellent bird-spotter,

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and me. This was in the late afternoon and evening…

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Once we reached the end of the path where the

ABANDONED HOUSE

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(familiar to every birder, I would think, in south Bangalore…I’ll make another blogpost about it. Thanks to Mark, I entered it and looked around for the first time in so many years!)

We just stayed there, not moving very much. The Banyan tree with the last of its figs was a kind of “bird Darshini (eatery)” for birds, so we just watched the birds in, and near, the majestic tree. Later, we walked around the abandoned house.

Mark didn’t even take a minute to see the

SPOTTED OWLET:

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The

JUNGLE BABBLERS

kept us company:

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This

ASHY PRINIA

its cousin, the Plain Prinia, and the Common Tailorbird, hopped through the undergrowth:

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First one

LARGE CUCKOO-SHRIKE

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and then two, delighted us:

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The

INDIAN LABURNUM

was in flower everywhere:

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MISTLETOE

(Loranthus) grew on the nearby tree:

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Looking carefully at the adventitious roots of the Banyan showed me

ANTS

farming the aphids:

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This

ROCK AGAMA

male, coming into his breeding colours, looked askance at me:

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The difference between the two kinds of birding is very marked. One means active walking around, seeking the areas where some birds are likely to be. The other means staying in one place, passively content with whatever birds show themselves. But both are intensely satisfying.

A large group vs. a very small one also makes a big difference to what one sees. In one, the chances of sighting the birds actually increase, if everyone is a careful birder. But a smaller group can be just as good.

With both kind of birding, there is the happiness of learning from others, and being able to share a sighting…sometimes with everyone in the large group

In the “active walking” mode, it’s looking for the birds; in the “passive waiting” mode, it’s about watching the birds that do appear, and soaking in the whole atmosphere.

Morning birding and evening birding, too, have different kinds of light for photography (and sometimes even seeing the birds.)

You can click

here for the visit where 15 of us enjoyed the morning

and

here for the visit with Rosita and Mark

110514 bird list:

Babbler, Jungle
Babbler, Yellow-billed
Barbet, Coppersmith
Barbet, White-cheeked
Bee-eater, Blue-bearded
Bee-eater, Small Green
Bulbul, Red-vented
Bulbul, Red-whiskered
Bulbul, White-browed
Bushchat, Pied
Bushlark, Jerdon’s
Buzzard, Oriental Honey
Coucal, Southern
Crow, House
Crow, Jungle
Cuckoo, Common Hawk (heard)
Cuckoo-shrike, Large
Dove, Laughing
Dove, Spotted
Drongo, Ashy
Drongo, Black
Eagle, Crested Serpent
Egret, Cattle
Egret, Little
Flameback, Black-rumped
Flowerpecker, Pale-billed
Flycatcher, Asian Paradise
Flycatcher, Tickell’s Blue
Flycatcher, White-browed Fantail
Francolin, Grey (heard)
Iora, Common
Junglefowl, Grey (heard)
Kingfisher, White-breasted
Kite, Black
Kite, Brahminy
Koel, Asian
Lapwing, Red-wattled
Leafbird, Golden-fronted
Malkoha, Blue-faced
Minivet, Small
Myna, Common
Myna, Jungle
Oriole, Eurasian Golden
Parakeet, Rose-ringed
Peafowl, Indian (heard)
Pigeon, Blue Rock
Pipit, Paddyfield
Pitta, Indian
Prinia, Ashy
Prinia, Grey-breasted
Quail, un id
Robin, Indian
Robin, Oriental Magpie
Roller, Indian
Shama, White-rumped
Shrike, Long-tailed
Sunbird, Purple-rumped
Swallow, Red-rumped
Tailorbird, Common
Wagtail, White-browed
Warbler, Greenish

130514 bird list:

Babbler, Jungle
Babbler, Yellow-billed
Barbet, Coppersmith
Barbet, White-cheeked
Bee-eater, Blue-bearded
Bee-eater, Small Green
Bulbul, Red-vented
Bulbul, Red-whiskered
Bulbul, White-browed
Bushchat, Pied
Bushlark, Jerdon’s
Buzzard, Oriental Honey
Coucal, Southern
Crow, House
Crow, Jungle
Cuckoo, Common Hawk (heard)
Cuckoo-shrike, Large
Dove, Laughing
Dove, Spotted
Drongo, Ashy
Drongo, Black
Eagle, Short-toed Snake
Egret, Cattle
Egret, Little
Flowerpecker, Pale-billed
Flycatcher, White-browed Fantail
Francolin, Grey (heard)
Junglefowl, Grey (heard)
Kingfisher, White-breasted
Kite, Black
Kite, Brahminy
Koel, Asian
Lapwing, Red-wattled
Leafbird, Golden-fronted
Malkoha, Blue-faced
Myna, Common
Myna, Jungle
Owl, Mottled Wood
Owlet, Spotted
Parakeet, Rose-ringed
Peafowl, Indian (heard)
Pigeon, Blue Rock
Pipit, Paddyfield
Prinia, Ashy
Robin, Indian
Robin, Oriental Magpie
Roller, Indian
Shrike, Long-tailed
Sunbird, Purple-rumped
Swallow, Red-rumped
Tailorbird, Common

The Hoopoe, Valley School, 110514

May 11, 2014

The

HOOPOE

was called the “Common Hoopoe”, but alas, it is no longer that common a bird. However, we are lucky enough to be able to see them once in a while, in the outskirts of Bangalore. This morning, as 15 of us went to see what we could in the Valley School area, this beautiful bird was the last sighting before we left…a fitting finale to a very enjoyable morning.

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The scientific name of the bird(Upupa epops), like the English name is an onomatopoeic form which imitates the cry of the bird.

This colourful bird is found across Afro-Eurasia,, and the Madagascar subspecies of the Hoopoe is sometimes elevated to a full species.

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The call is typically a trisyllabic oop-oop-oop, which gives rise to its English and scientific names, although two and four syllables are also common.

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Most European and north Asian birds migrate to the tropics in winter. The African populations are sedentary year-round.

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The Hoopoe has two basic requirements in its habitat; bare or lightly vegetated ground on which to forage and vertical surfaces with cavities (such as trees, cliffs or even walls, nestboxes, haystacks, and abandoned burrows) in which to nest.

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The diet of the Hoopoe is mostly composed of insects, although small reptiles, frogs and plant matter such as seeds and berries are sometimes taken as well. It is a solitary forager which typically feeds on the ground.

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The diet of the Hoopoe includes many species considered to be pests by humans; for example the pupae of the processionary moth, a damaging forest pest.

Hoopoes are distinctive birds and have made a cultural impact over much of their range. They were considered sacred in Ancient Egypt, so they were “depicted on the walls of tombs and temples”. They achieved a similar standing in Minoan Crete. Theywere seen as a symbol of virtue in Persia. They were thought of as thieves across much of Europe and harbingers of war in Scandinavia. Also, in Estonian tradition the Hoopoes are strongly connected with death and the underworld, their song is seen as a forebode of death for many a people or cattle.The Hoopoe is the king of the birds in the Ancient Greek comedy The Birds by Aristophanes.

…and….The Hoopoe was chosen as the national bird of Israel in May 2008!

When we found that this bird, which has lived amongst humans for so long, was not at all disturbed by our presence, we slowly, and carefully, fanned around it, without disturbing its foraging behaviour. I took this video to show how, sometimes, a group can photograph a bird from fairly close range, without alarming or disturbing it.

We bade goodbye as as it walked along peacefully in the sunshine:

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A little later, off it flew…and we walked on with great satisfaction at having seen, and observed, this bird for a good while!

click here

for my FB album