Posts Tagged ‘sights’

Another lifer..and perhaps a record sighting, Nandi Hills, 271114

November 28, 2014

Email to bngbirds:


Brinda, Gayatri, Nitin Prabhakar and I went to Nandi Hills, and right at the end of the outing, Nitin (while driving on the road leading down) spotted a bird which we id’d as a perhaps-not-yet-fully-grown Asian Brown Flycatcher.

But when I posted the photo on Indian Birds, Tim Inskipp and Shantanu Bhattacharya id’d it as the Dark-sided Flycatcher. Since this is a lifer for all of us, I am not too ashamed of the wrong id!

I would like to know what the records are for this bird, because it doesn’t seem to occur too commonly in southern India.


Wiki entry

doesn’t seem to mention the presence of the bird in south India, and Grimmett and Inskipp (yes, that same Inskipp!)’s book of south Indian birds doesn’t mention it at all.

Well…anyway, we were quite happy even when we thought it was an Asian Brown, as we watched it for a while, indulging in typical flycatcher behaviour, swooping out from one perch, hawking insects in the air (or attempting to) and then alighting on another perch close by.

The FB photo is


and it’s on my Flickr album


Why the shy? Here the bird is!


Looking forward to learning more….

When sight begins to falter…

February 17, 2014

I’ve been having sudden flashes of “light” at the periphery of my vision; as I’d received a warning from my opthalmologist, in 2012, to go to him if ever it happened, I went immediately.

Yes, there has been retinal detachment in my right eye, but luckiy, it’s not accompanied by a tear, so it does not require surgery. However, there are developing cataracts in both eyes (a very slow growth process, though) and I have been advised a surgical procedure to dissolve and remove them.

I have been noticing just a slight lessening in the clarity of my vision over the past year, and difficulty in low-light situations.

I am now getting my insurance papers in order (quite a long and daunting task in India!) and seeing if I am eligible to claim insurance for this procedure. But meanwhile, I was pondering on how life might be if, instead, I had been told that I had a progressive condition that would lead to my blindness.


cortical homunculus

shows the amount of information about the world that we derive from our various senses, and parts of the body…the eye, and sight, play a major part in our sensory inputs.

I remember, while doing a training program for teaching blind and low-vision people, having an Orientation and Mobility session where we were blindfolded and asked to reach the main road, from the venue (Ramana Maharishi Academy for the Blind) where the training program was being held. The main road! Most of us couldn’t even make it down the stairs to the ground floor from our classroom, without falling several times, and suffering deep trauma about our ability to manage, and getting quite disoriented.

Everyone glibly claims that “those who are deprived of sight develop the other senses to a remarkable degree” but surely this cannot be true of every single person who loses sight…so I wonder how the world, and life, would change without the magic of sight. I am able to shrug my very slight discomfort off…but what must it be like for a person who knows that s/he will lose the ability to see?

It makes me grateful, all over again, for the wonderful gift of having a body and mind which are “normal” and do not need constant care. My thoughts go out to those who have to get along without one (or more) of their senses.

The Shieldtail…again, 161113

November 18, 2013

Some time ago, in Bannerghatta, I’d sighted the


which I’d posted about


On Saturday evening, I went to Nandi Hills with Naveen Toppo, his wife (and super bird-spotter) Pinky, and Sharmila Abdulpurkar. Walking along the path near Nehru Nilaya, we found some young men gently nudging something from the middle of the road on to the side, so that it would not be trodden or run over.

We went to investigate, and I found that it was, indeed, a Shieldtail.


The snake moved into some fallen leaves, and put its head into the soil. Ostrich-like, it felt that it was adequately covered, and stopped moving. (So there was no point in taking a video!)

The difficult-sounding name, “Uropeltidae” for these serpents is derived from the Greek words, “Uro” (tail) and “Pelte” (shield). This is because these snakes are characterised by the presence of the large keratinous shield at the tip of the tail. These snakes are not venomous.

They are supposed to have an exclusive diet of earthworms, but I cannot find anything on the net to substantiate this claim. However, they are reviled by farmers because of their alleged diet…earthworms, with their ability to dig through, and aerate, the soil, are farmer’s friends, and any creature that eats them is a farmer’s enemy! However, the wiki says they could also feed on other invertebrates (not specified…there can’t be too many studies on this.

In a way, these are blind snakes, because the eyes are small and dcovered by large polygonal shields.

I would like to id this one as the Elliot’s Shieldtail, because the Wiki entry says:

“They are found in southern India and Sri Lanka.[1] In India, their distribution is mainly along the hills of Western Ghats, and only one species, Elliot’s shieldtail, Uropeltis ellioti, has been reported from other areas such as Eastern Ghats and hills of Central India.”

Ganesh Raghunathan, a friend who was working at B R Hills at the time of my first sighting, told me, “We are seeing quite a few of them here at B.R hills in the past week. they were active and would push their tails hard to prick us when picked up.” So I didn’t try to touch the snake at all; in any case, it must have been distressed after having been handled by the young men, even though they were trying to help it, and probably did save its life from the passing traffic.

Another interesting thing about Shieldtails..they are ovoviviparous….All members of this family retain eggs that hatch within the body of the mother. Whether or not you can pronounce that word fast, this fact is fascinating…a mixture of laying eggs and having the young within the mother’s body!

Here’s a closer look at this not-commonly-found, amazing creation of Nature:


(You can clearly see the “shield tail” in this photo.)

We left the Shieldtail to the hills and the rainy evening, and came home, marvelling at the wonderful beings that populate our Earth.

Sometimes the attractions are closed…

June 11, 2013

I wanted to do the Miniature Museum, but here’s one review that I found very unsettling:

and the website of the Museum is also not working, so it may no longer be operational. Do check it out!

I just visited the downtown area and the Schnucks there last Saturday, with my family, and enjoyed myself very much. So (especially in view of needing someone to work from home if I am going for the walk) I think I’ll pass on that, too. The Schnucks “eatery” is great! DnA had taken the children to Circus Flora. Since I will be volunteering there this Saturday, I spent the time wandering around the area, and it was very interesting indeed! There are some lovely new and old buildings there.

I put up some photos on my FB album:

I also went, on Sunday, to attend a program where some artistes explained the science behind some of the circus acts. This took place in the Centene Center, which is in the same area. I took the bus there and back πŸ™‚

St.Louis has plenty to offer the “tourist-minded” wanderers.

Morning walk

September 11, 2012

I wake up early, and I think it’s usually the most wonderful part of the day. Yesterday’s cares seem distant and behind me; the air, and my mind, are fresh and ready for today. It feels wonderful to stretch one’s legs, and walk…not much, just about 4.5 km….and it’s a great time to think one’s own thoughts, introspect, say a few prayers….

I also love to observe the people walking, jogging and running…and the various services that have sprung up to cater to them. Green leafy vegetables being sold to them…this has now developed into a small morning market (more expensive, by a factor of 15%, than the 9th Block market, but very convenient.) which disperses by 9.30am. A young man has containers of various vegetable juices. I don’t know the merits of this, but a lot of people patronize him. Several banners announce various yoga and meditation classes.

I love hearing some of the common birds. The “trooo-trooo” call of the Barbet, the shrieking of the parakeets, the mewling noise of the Black Kites…of course, the cawing of the ever-present crows. Now, because of the heaped garbage, there are two silent birds…the Shikra and the Barn Owl, which, in the dawn light, swoop in noiseless flight on the rodents in the trash.

The smells are a great part of the walk, too. The flowers for sale have their lovely scent, as do the fallen flowers of the Akasha Mallige (Indian Cork Tree). The smell of fresh coffee wafts from the local darshini (eatery) as does the aroma of frying vadas. A lot of walkers wind up here! I am afraid I’ll have to add the smell of the garbage to the list, too.

People meet and greet each other…or go past, intent on their exercise. The walking inside the park is very regulated, with even the direction to walk in being specified…so I prefer walking outseide on the road. The tall trees come alive with bird-chatter. I enjoy watching the change of security guards in the IT companies.

The weather in Bangalore is very conducive to walks, and early morning walks nowadays mean that one can see a lot of mufflers,monkey caps, sweaters and scarves. Since I perspire a lot, I usually do not wear any of these.

Ah…while I have been ruminating, I have come back to my front gate. Off I go, climbing up to my fourth-floor flat, to enjoy some old Hindi songs on TV, read my newspaper, and sip my first hot thimbleful of coffee…I have learnt to have it the “baitu” way…just a small amount, piping hot. Good morning to you folks, I hope your days begin as happily as mine!

Migraine Auras, and Scintillating Scotomata

August 20, 2011

For more than a year or two, I have, at random times, had the experience of a brightly pulsating, geometric-design spiral “unfurl” within my vision field….

So, when it happened a couple of days ago, I suddenly decided to see if I could read up about it (Prashanth Nuggehalli Srinivas’ FB comment that “Everything is just a Google away” stuck in my mind!), and I found


is what it was.

However, in my case, migraine headaches don’t always seem to follow the scotoma event (though this time, I did get a migraine yesterday, about 24 hours after the scotoma, which made me terribly nauseous and tired after the migraine attack was over) so I guess I seem to have

acephalgic migraine

most of the time…

The scintillating scotoma is rather a spectacular display, I must say…

click here

and in that, if you see the illustration of the spiral geometricscotoma, over the title, “Entry to art contest, Migraine Images, 1991″ …that’s almost precisely what I see, unfurling and expanding across my vision.

Here’s an almos precise description of what I experience, from the webpage above:

just had my first aura, without headache, yesterday. I had a breakfast of fresh pear and banana with yogurt at 9 a.m., then had a weight machine workout at 10 a.m. 15 minutes after the workout, I sat down at my computer and opened a document to read. I immediately noticed that I could not ‘see’ the word I was focusing on! The effect was similar to the local vision loss you get after having looked at a bright light. It’s not like the local area was ‘black’ – it was just ‘missing’. After a couple of minutes, the small vision loss area began to drift to the left in my field of vision. I began experimenting with it by moving my finger horizontally and vertically through the vision loss area. I found that the blind spot remained when I covered either eye. At first, the blind spot moved left without getting any larger.

It was at this time that I witnessed the most bizarre phenomenon, which I have not read in the many personal accounts of aura on the Web. I opened a blank document on the computer and placed a letter on it. Then I adjusted my center of vision until the letter was in the blind spot. As soon as the letter was in the blind spot, the letter immediately began to reciprocate left and right in a very regular pattern both in time and space (‘tick-tock-tick-tock-tick-tock’) even though I was keeping my eyes and center of vision perfectly still. The letter moved a distance of about 1/2” and back in about 1 second for each ‘tick-tock’. It was as if my brain was trying to move the letter to a point where it could ‘see’ it, but couldn’t decide on which way to move it!!

Yes, I was focusing on a point well to the right of the scotoma. The scotoma at that time was still very small, only about the size of the letter. The letter disappeared just momentarily, then it reappeared, alternating very regularly from left of the scotoma to right of the scotoma, never simultaneously on both left and right. But I was struck that this happened even when I very consciously kept my eyes, and center of vision perfectly still. It appeared to be a succession of two stationary images. It didn’t ‘slide’ back and forth; it ‘toggled’ back and forth. I just saw the alternation of the two positions.

This phenomenon so interested me that I had not noticed something else going on further out in my field of vision. In the lower left quadrant, there was a vague sawtooth arc of scintillating images. I wouldn’t say they were ‘colorful’, yet they had a quality that was almost colorful. At first, they were just sort of superimposed on the field of vision, without blinding me to what was behind them. But a minute or so after I noticed the sawtooth arc, it suddenly expanded into a large blind area consisting of a complete semicircle ‘C’ shape covering the entire left half of my field of view, as it also expanded all the way to the edge of my field of view. I think it may even have ‘thickened’, meaning the inner edge move closer to my center of vision. Before this, I had just been fascinated, but not at all worried. But when this major progression happened so quickly, it suddenly occurred to me that I may be having a stroke or brain aneurism, and I feared that I might be losing consciousness! Since no one else was at home, I grabbed the phone and dialed 911. I also became confused and had a little trouble actually dialing the phone and talking to the dispatcher. Later after reading other migraineur accounts, I believe my confusion was probably part of the aura.

When I hung up the phone, I stood up and began to walk around a little bit. It struck me that I was not the least bit dizzy or physically sick or anything. Then, the symptoms completely receded over a period of just a minute or so. By the time the ambulance arrived 15 minutes later, the symptoms were completely gone. I sheepishly walked out to greet the ambulance crew and reported my experience. They had no idea what had happened to me. They took my blood pressure, pulse and blood sugar, all of which were normal. After they left, I went back to my office and Googled ‘temporary vision loss’ and immediately got hundreds of hits on migraine aura. The many descriptions I have read on the Web left no doubt that this is what had happened to me.

I can’t decide whether I can just leave this alone..and probably try for better sleep (which is a notorious problem for me) or whether I should go to a neurologist …I’ve already checked out with an eye doctor, who’s reassured me that it’s nothing to do with my vision.)

However, the point I want to make is…if any of you have something unusual like this happening to you…don’t, as I did, take it too casually (I thought it was something like the usual “threads” that one sees in the field of one’s vision.)…Get it checked out. It may (like in my case) be nothing very serious…but if it is, you can get treated quickly. I’m glad this turned out to be not a big deal!


May 11, 2009

I do love the walks I take; Forest Park is a beautiful place, but I like walking around the neighbourhoods, too. This evening, to walk off the excessively heavy masala dosa and upma that we all had at the St Louis temple, I went for a long evening walk too….

I’ll start with the birds…

The HOUSE SPARROW is not well-regarded here; a board on the golf course seems quite unfriendly to me, in a country where the Statue of Liberty says all refugees are welcome….

anti starling sparrow board golf course 280409

But the sparrows seem to thrive, nevertheless; this male seems to have an “open and shut” kind of dwelling!

house sparrow st l 100509

More stuff from a couple of walks

Off to Bandipur, tiger, tiger, can you burn a little brighter?

April 25, 2008

Here’s my favourite shot from Bandipur ….

Baby Elephant at Bandipur 9Jun07

Bandipur has always been one of my favourite areas…and what once used to be “Prakruthi” restaurant has now morphed into the Bandipur property of JLR . Almost every room there has a beautifully painted wildlife mural .

Well, since I can do a bit of “swalpa adjust maadi” with itsalouwelylife and her UK friend, I am executing a sneak to Bandipur tomorrow.

Alas, this time I am not going just to see what I can see. Usually, that’s what I do. And I come back happy with whatever I saw, but never a glimpse of any stripes…..Then, I was told by someone, when I said that I had never seen a tiger in south India: “You lack focus. You are too happy and contented with what you see, so you will never see a tiger.”

OK, this time, focus, focus, focus. Ever since chirdeepshetty went to take up a 2-month voluntary assignment as a naturalist there, he has apparently seen nothing but tigers. They are crawling out of the woodwork….he posted to the JLRNTP egroup about sighting 5 of them recently. And whoever has gone there from the NTP this past week….Praveen, Avinash, Amogh…have been also been doing nothing else.

So having once cancelled my train ticket for today, I went back and bought a bus ticket for tomorrow, and I am FOCUSSSSSSING as I go off. Wish me luck everyone. I have a great fear that these other tiger-sighting characters are swifty exhausting the April 2008 Tiger-Sighting Quota before I arrive there, and will do the usual “The tiger was sighted HERE yesterday” or “Look! Tiger Scat!” (That’s a polite and technical way of referring to tiger shit tiger waste-products.) I even had one naturalist who enthused, “OH! It’s FRESH and STEAMING!!!” as if it was a fragrant breakfast dish of idlies that he had found.

I don’t want tiger claw marks, I don’t want pug marks. I don’t want to listen to other people’s tiger-sighting stories. I WANT MY OWN TIGER SIGHTING IN SOUTH INDIA. This means YOU, you tiger hiding in the forests of Bandipur. Come on out you coquette, I want to see if you actually do exist, or are a piece of these other people’s fevered imaginations….

Want to see some of my Bandipur posts?

click on this

adarshraju told me he hopes I will sight one. That was nice of him.

He also told Anush not to go with me as anyone with me would never see a tiger. That is NOT nice of him. I am deciding whether to smile at him or growl at him the next time I see him….

I do love Bandipur, tiger or no tiger. But I would prefer tiger to no tiger… Sigh.

The story of others’ sightings and my sighings….

April 16, 2008

chirdeep_shetty (who last posted in Jan 2007 here ),called today, from Bandipur, where he has taken a voluntary two-month assignment as a naturalist, taking a break from his regular software development job.

Prior to this, he had SMS-ed me : “Sightings so far, 5 small Indian civet, 5 Dhole, loads of Sambar, Chital, Langur, Elephant, and of course a tiger half an hour back…”

So I thought I would ask him about them…and he broke in to tell me that today he had seen five tigers, three of them on the road, and two of whom were playing with each other.

Of course I am not going to believe stories like this; the SIT (South Indian Tiger) does NOT exist until I can see one with my own eyes.

As far as my sighting of the SIT goes, it remains a sighing…a sighing wish that one day I too will be lucky. Somehow, in the north of India, tigers don’t seem to mind my looking at them, but these (non-existent, imaginary) SIT’s are so coy and wary of me…

The same goes for the Slender Loris which I thought I might try to get a look at, in the IISc campus today. There was a showing of a David Attenborough BBC documentary, and since a day-shot of a Slender Loris had been posted on INW , I thought I would try.

But when we asked, we were told that the only reason the Loris had been seen by daylight was because one had been injured by a passing car. (Just imagine, here I am, dying to see one by daylight, and some motorist actually runs over it.) Otherwise, it is noctural, and so it can only be heard in the wilderness area near the Centre for Environmental Studies.

Yes, I did get to see a few of these shy animals in Tumkur, and got some foozly shots, too; but I certainly would like to see one by day…but seeing an injured one is the only way of doing it, I don’t want that! So…more sighing instead of sighting, and I came back home with a few shots of the very, very beautiful campus… Oh me, MICIAUA…(My Internet Connection Is Acting Up Again)…so will post some pics of an incredible vine, lovely trees, and also a Circle goddess…what’s that, you say? You will find out..tomorrow, hopefully!

Towns in Tanzania…..

August 22, 2007

Well, since I can’t possibly post ALL the pics from Flickr to LJ (like I could not post all the photos/videos from my laptop to Flickr or YouTube)…I am done with the wildlife of Tanzania…but I would like to close with a few images of the towns and the sights….here are images from Dar es Salaam, Arusha and Manyara.


As we came in to land, I took this snap of the beauty of the sea along the coast:

approaching Tanzania

And there was the city of Dar-es-Salaam,filling my window:

dar es salaam from the air

For more pics of Dar,Arusha, and Manyara, click here