Posts Tagged ‘trees’

Visit to Ziro Butterfly Festival, Sept 2-9, 2019

September 12, 2019

Since it was a very, very long trip…Bangalore-Guwahati-Itanagar-Ziro-Pange WLS and back…I simply can’t describe everything in detail, but the visual story of what I experienced, with captions, is in a series of albums on Flickr.

Day 1, 020919, Blr-Guwahati:

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Fisherman at Deepor Beel

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Yellow Helen at Deepor Beel

Day 2, 030919, Guwahati and Rani WLS, overnight journey to Naharlagun (Itanagar)

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Grey Pansy, Kirtti Inn

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Crimson Sunbird, Kirtti Inn

Day 3, 040919, Itanagar, journey to Ziro

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Sonku and her son Ranka

Day 4, 050919, Ziro to Pange WLS

https://www.flickr.com/photos/86494503@N00/albums/72157710798479712/with/48716450193/

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Tytler’s Multicolored Flat

Day 5, 060919, Pange WLS

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Bhutan Glory

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Juvenile Dark-sided Flycatcher

Day 6, 070919, Pange WLS to Ziro

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Paresh Churi’s color-pencil work of the Kaiser-e-Hind, the queen of Talle Valley

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An Apatani priest recites a prayer to save the crops from destruction by pests

Day 7, 080919, Walk in Ziro, overnight journey to Itanagar

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View of Old Ziro from Ziro Point

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Lunch at Potin, on the way to Itanagar

Day 8, 090919m Itanagar to Guwahati, and flight back to Bangalore

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Moving furniture

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Blue-tailed Bee-eater

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Ravugodlu, 4th Sunday Bngbirds outing, 250819

August 29, 2019

Email to the Bngbirds egroup:

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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,

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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

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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

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…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,

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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

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blooming wildflowers such as the Node Flower,

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Indian Cadaba,

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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

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and the Rock Agama

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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:

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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

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

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

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Jewel Bug

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Sweet Potato Weevil

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Blister Beetle

IMG_0165 Tussock Moth Cat early instar
Tussock Moth caterpillar

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

Deepa.

Ravugodlu: 4thSunday Bngbirds outing, 240219

February 26, 2019

We were 22 of us meeting up at the shrine at Ravugodlu,

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as the sun rose behind the hillocks of the beautiful scrub jungle. It is getting more and more difficult to find forest patches which are not walled off and where prior permission (often not given) is required. I do envy the birders and naturalists who could range freely over so many areas in the 60’s and 70’s! The population pressure is telling on the patches we have left, and I cannot blame the Karnataka Forest Department for being very wary of visitors, but definitely for students, research scholars and low-budget enthusiasts like me, the wilderness is increasingly either out of reach or inaccessible.

We started the walk with a kind of Coppersmith Barbet convocation, as large numbers of them flew in and settled on the tops of the trees nearby.

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So it was a while before we could move on. Already, before I arrived, the others had seen quite a few Indian Grey Hornbills flying past, and this continued on our walk.

Even when we were not sighting birds, the beauty of the rocky area and the path was delightful. We had been warned by a local farmer about the leopardess in the area (we had seen her pugmarks on the last 4th Sunday outing in July ’18) which had given birth to two cubs, but we saw no sign of her this time. Other footprints were there, though…the peafowl, and some other tracks which Mayur tried to identify.

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As we went on, we sighted birds like the Sunbirds, Flowerpeckers and other woodland inhabitants. The Bulbuls called, as did Tailorbirds…the calls of the Warblers, our winter visitors, were harder to identify. Even the call of the Drongos sounded very different when they imitated other birds! I explained to some of the others about “birding by ear”.

One of the highlights of the walk was the sighting of a Yellow-throated Bulbul, clearly if not sharply, caught on camera by one of the group. Later, Tej was certain that he’d sighted a Black-crested Bulbul, but since none of us had seen it with him, I decided to leave that out of the bird list. My apologies to Tej for caving in on this one! Another interesting sighting was that of the rarely-seen Marshall’s Iora.

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The white in the tail that marks the Marshall’s Iora

At the pond, which still has a good amount of water, we sighted some of the waterfowl…a Little Cormorant, a Common Sandpiper, and both the Common

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as well as the White-throated Kingfisher, looking for their breakfasts. Several birds, such as Swallows, flying overhead, were also noted.

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Large Cuckooshrike

Several unusual trees and plants also caught our attention, and I must thank Subbu for pointing out some of them when I was chatting to the others about the birds. Wildlfowers are stunningly beautiful!

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Now you know why they are called Bottle Gourds!

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Cochlospermum religiosum, Buttercup tree

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Indian elm (Holoptelia integrifolia)

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The inverted parachutes of Aristolochia indica, Eshwaramooli,or Indian Birthwort; critical for the Southern Birdwing butterfly

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Gmelina asiatica,Asian Bushbeech

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A Pond Terrapin that we spotted

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Crimson Tip

We stopped at the end of the trail for our variety of snacks, and both Vidhya’s “mangai thengai pattani sundal” and the masala buttermilk I brought, went down well with an assortment of biscuits and crunchy snacks. Why can’t all the vitamins be in the tasty nachos, I wonder!

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The only child in the group, Sanchana,

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proved to be very curious about everything she saw..and she quizzed me a lot, too! I am not sure if I answered her questions to her satisfaction…but it was very nice indeed to spend time with her. I do wish more parents would bring their children along, though I know the early start is a bit tough…our wildernesses are fast disappearing into residential layouts!

We dispersed at the end of the walk with some of us stopping at the Davangere Benne Dose eatery and others at Thavaru Mane (Mother’s home)Thindi,

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and went home with our hearts…and tummies…full, to face whatever the week ahead would bring.

The eBird list, compiled by Vidhya, is at

https://ebird.org/india/view/checklist/S53078827

Butterflies:

Blue, Pea
Blue, Tiny Grass
Cerulean, Common
Crimson-Tip
Emigrant, Common
Jezebel, Common
Leopard,Common
Orange-tip, White
Rose, Common
Rose, Crimson
Tiger, Blue
Tiger, Plain
Tiger, Striped
Yellow, Common Grass
Yellow, Three-spot Grass

Mammals:

A quick video of the participants , with each one announcing his/her name, is at


I have put up my photos on my FB album

here

and on a Flickr album,

here

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Monet-esque waterlilies in the pond

Campus Bird Count, IIMB, 170219

February 21, 2019

Many of us who use eBird have observed the past four days (15, 16, 17 and 18 Feb, ’19) for two bird-counts: the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) and the Campus Bird Count, both of which took place all over the world.

Experts like Suhel and Praveen can give you a very good overall picture of how these two counts went, all over India; at my (amateur) level, I can confidently say that the three southern States of Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu have had a lot of birders uploading lists from various spots and campuses. The most remote spot I’ve seen a bird list being uploaded from is Mizoram, in the north-east.

The campus I’d chosen to conduct a bird count at, for the past few years, is that of the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, on Bannerghatta Road.

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After a terror attack several years ago, the campus had been closed to visitors other than those who had business or educational appointments. I would like to credit Prof. Shainesh of IIMB, who is a keen birder, along with his wife Leena, for opening the doors to various walks: trees, butterflies…and birds! I would also like to thank Dr Selvarajan Rajeshwaran and Vidhya Sundar, who first introduced me to IIMB, and have kept up both the IIMB and our personal friendships!

This year, the decision was made to let the Environment and Nature Society (ENS) a student organization, to take the major role in organizing the event. On the morning of 17th Feb ’19, about a dozen of us, amateur birders, entered the campus, and met Pradeep Kumar, of the ENS, who had passed the word around to students and residents at the campus. Prof. Shainesh and Leena were also there, and I was pleasantly surprised to see some second-year students who, after celebrating their placements in the corporate world, yet found time to wake up early and join the walk. I was equally happy to find some of the faculty, such as Prof. Jayaram Uparna, attending. The acquaintances made during such events are a big plus for me!

We started with the two Coral trees (Palash, Butea monosperma) trees that are now in full bloom. Rose-ringed Parakeets, Brahminy and Chestnut-tailed Starlings, House and Jungle Crows, Purple-rumped Sunbirds and Pale-billed Flowerpeckers, Spotted Doves and the lone swooping Ashy Drongo…they thronged the flowers on the trees, and we spent quite a bit of time watching all of them having a breakfast feast, sprinkling the ground below the trees with fallen flowers as a result. Meanwhile we also recorded several kinds of waterfowl, such as Black-crowned Night Herons, Little and Great Cormorants, flying overhead, heading from one lake to another.

As we moved on, the many trees and the leaf clutter yielded a variety of woodland birds, too. Cinereous Tits, and some warblers appeared. We were able to let the others listen to the calls of the White-cheeked and Coppersmith Barbets, and explain how the Drongos can imitate other bird calls.

One highlight was seeing a Shikra couple bringing in twigs repeatedly, and beginning their nest high up in a tree.

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The onlookers could hear the difference between the call of the Shikra and the other common raptors of the Bangalore skies, the Black and the Brahminy Kites.

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White-cheeked Barbet eating the fruit of the Jungli Jilebi

Almost at the end of the walk, there was an unexpected delight waiting….the white ribbons of the Paradise Flycatcher, as it flitted amongst the mango trees and the faculty quarters, delighting everyone! Praveen caught an Asian Brown Flycatcher on camera, too.

Even though it was a bird count, we could not ignore other living beings. IIMB has greened the campus which was just barren some decades ago; trees like the Jungli Jilebi (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pithecellobium_dulce) the South American trees like the Golden Trumpet Flower (Tacoma aurea), the Rain Tree (Samanea saman), the Moulmein Rosewood

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… which were once upon a time imported, but have “settled down” very well on Indian soil, and our “native” trees like the Neem ( Azadirachta indica), the various kinds of Ficus (including Peepal and Banyan) the Mango (Mangifera indica), and the Silk Cotton (Bombax ceiba) were all noted. A Calabash tree ( Crescentia cujete) had its balloon-like shiny fruits on show. We noted how many birds enjoyed frequenting the Singapore Cherry ( Muntingia calabura).

Six-footers also came in for their share of attention, especially at the flower beds, where several butterflies were nectaring and also sunning. Bees such as the common honey bee (Apis dorsata) and the Blue-banded Bee (Amegilla cingulata, also an “import” from Australia, like the Eucalyptus trees!) were busy with pollen and pollination, and occasionally fell prey to some of the birds.

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We finally wound up our bird count, after a couple of the participants sighted the resident Spotted Owlets, though we could not see the Barn Owls that are regularly heard.

ENS very hospitably gave us a lovely breakfast,

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and we dispersed, very happy at having spent a productive morning, and at the same time,being able to contribute some data in the name of citizen science.

We thank IIMB, once again, for the opportunity.The campus is now a green oasis in an increasing-by-the-day concrete jungle, and the two points of view always remain as questions: Would there be more birds in this oasis because of the greenery, or would the fragmentation of the green cover reduce the number of birds? Data that such events help to provide, will give the ornithologists a clearer picture over a period of years.

The eBird list is at

https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S52805810

45+ species in an urban oasis, in the middle of a concrete jungle, where trees are being chopped down daily, is a great count indeed!

Butterflies:

Awl, Common Banded
Blue, Gram
Blue, Pea
Blue, Zebra
Brown, Common Evening
Castor, Common
Cerulean,Common
Crow, Common
Eggfly, Danaid

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Emigrant, Common
Jezebel, Common
Judy, Suffused Double-banded
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Leopard, Common
Lime, Common
Orange-tip, White
Pansy, Chocolate
Pansy, Lemon
Rose, Common
Skipper, Indian Grizzled
Tiger, Blue
Tiger, Plain

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Yellow, Common Grass
Yellow, Three-spot Grass

Looking forward to reports from other campuses and ‘backyards’,

Deepa.

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Visit to FES for Grow-Trees, Kallimapalli, Karnataka, 230618

June 28, 2018

I got a call from my friend Srinvasa Shenoy, aka Srini, asking whether I would be interested in a visit to a site where afforestation is being done, near the Karnataka/Andhra Pradesh border, in a small village called Kollimapalli.

Since I am always interested in this kind of work, I asked a few friends too, and we set off. After a productive morning of birding at

Bhairasagara lake

which delayed us quite a bit, we drove to

Bagepalli

where we met Avinash Chowdary of

Foundation for Ecological Security (FES)

Srini tries to offset the carbon footprints of his clients in the travel company he runs, by donating to

Grow Trees

and wanted to see the planting efforts on the FES site. FES is the local partner of Grow Trees for planting trees as a part of its efforts in ecological restoration in co-ordination with local rural communities.

We found the tiny hamlet of Kollimapalli nestled in a rocky, scrubby landscape:

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Blue skies greeted us as we entered the tiny village and walked up the forest path.

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The local people whom we met said that what was earlier a barren, arid area was now quite green with the establishment of the scrub jungle, with planted trees growing well.

However”The objective,” says Srini, “is not about planting trees only – rather, it is a broader perspective of ecological restoration through water conservation, planning, planting trees (local and at the right place), educating the communities, providing expertise and then working along with them and the local government. It is all about providing a sustainable solution at the local level.”

Here we are (at the end of the site visit) :

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It is critical that the rules and practices resolved by the local panchayat are followed, for the success of the project, as they allow everyone to participate in the effort.

FES follows a system of CRPs (Community Resource Persons). CRPs are not employed full time – but devote about half of their time for a fixed payment. The CRPs monitor, report, and co-ordinate with local people. Each CRP is responsible for 4-5 villages. They have 350 villages under their project.
They have corporate sponsors like Grow-trees, Say Trees, HUF (Hindustan Unilever), Axis Bank etc.. – who fund them under their CSR budgets. The Community Resource Persons we met were

Grazing is allowed in certain areas, and others are ‘prohibited’ zones for grazing, to allow for vegetative regeneration. Here is a river of cattle flowing down one of the paths in the permitted area.

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The impact of all these efforts is felt when the local stakeholders accept the results; the results are synergetically more than just the number of trees planted to prevent erosion.

Efforts also include building of bunds/tanks at strategic locations to provide for water throughout the year, and providing for ‘cattle ponds’ at strategic locations. Here is Srini, talking to Avinash and the CRPs, at one such cattle pond, which had been dug before the monsoon.

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Without co-operation from the local community, merely planting trees (even if the trees are monitored) is of no point whatsoever and is doomed for failure. It was, therefore, heartening to see the good equation that has been developed with the villagers; we were welcomed, we enjoyed seeing the children of the village playing.

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After the visit, the hospitable people gave us some delicious buttermilk to slake our thirst!

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We found that FES had planted Neem, Jamun,Indian Gooseberry, and other species of trees suited to the rocky, rain-starved environment. On our walk around the area, here are several beautiful creatures which we spotted, proving that the place is, indeed, a haven for all kinds of wildlife.

Lynx Spider

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Small Salmon Arab

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Robberfly

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Sirkeer Malkoha

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Oriental Garden Lizard male

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Oriental Garden Lizard female

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Catunaregam spinosa, or Mountain Pomegranate:

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Givotia rottleriformis, or the White Catamaran tree (Butti Mara in Kannada)

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As we walked back, a flight of Painted Storks overhead delighted us.

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In spite of the challenges, Grow Trees and FES seem to be making an impact with their work with the twin goals of afforestation and conservation.

Bird lists:

For Bhairasagara, click

here

For Kollimapalli, click

here

For Gulur Lake, which we visited on our way home, click

here

A special outing, for special children. Ragihalli, 160318

March 16, 2018

Today (16th Mar, ’18), I took the children of

Snehadhara Foundation

for an outdoor/nature trip to Ragihalli. Was the trip worth it? Emphatically, yes! The children smelt some fruit, felt the texture of some leaves, got distracted by the butterflies…and took care of each other in the most heartwarming way.

The children had visited Lalbagh and Cubbon Park and wanted to go to “actual forest” as one of the more articulate children put it. Certainly, Ragihalli, in the Bannerghatta National Park, fit the bill!

We started from Snehadhara, in J P Nagar, at about 8 am,

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and though we navigated Bannerghatta Road quite well, the road deteriorated as we approached Ragihalli, and indeed, with road-laying work, the road was blocked at the village itself, about 3km short of Adavi Field Station.

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Nagesh, Dhanu, Shivanaja, and Akshath took care of us while we were there. Dhanu,

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whose father Manjunath runs the eatery in Ragihalli where we always stop for piping hot thatte iddli, is quite a keen birder himself, having Akshath as a senior in school, and being trained by him.The field station is willing to conduct bird walks in the area for those who are interested. I took the children from Pramiti School there last month, and so had no hesitation in taking the Snehadhara children there. (Though if I’d known about the road condition, I might have asked for two vans rather than a large bus.)

Our bus negotiated the drive-around with difficulty. It also happened that the area had no power since 5pm the previous day, so Nagesh, his brother Shivananja, and my other friend Akshath….all their phones were without charge, and unreachable.

However, we reached after a delay, and before Akshath took us for a walk, we had a little bit of loosening up and a game of “actions” under the large banyan tree.

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Our walk led us through the mulberry plants, and under large trees, to a rock formation where we sat peacefully,

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admiring the view over the hill ranges of the Bannerghatta National Park.

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Though humid, the cloudy weather enabled us to sit outdoors without worrying about the heat of the sun. We walked back to the field station, where the children had their lunch,

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and then slowly drove back from the scrub jungle of Ragihalli to the concrete jungle of Bangalore.

I showed some children and adults various wild flowers, put together in a tiny bouquet

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cultivated ones like this Pomegranate,

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Cotton

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plants, and some birds. The children definitely seemed to enjoy the outing. We got a few fresh mangoes,

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and I feasted on fresh, sweet tamarind from the trees. My personal delight was sighting a rare tree (Firmiana colorata,also called Coloured Sterculia, the last two photos of the album) on the way home through a route that bypassed Ragihalli (the actual village).

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Thank you to Snehadhara for providing me with this opportunity to interact with the children. Sunny temparaments like that of Aravind (always with a smile on his face, and so curious about my camera and binoculars!), and quiet personalities like Karthik’s were equally fascinating to watch. And…I found that Swetha was my neighbour! The teachers
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were so patient and loving with the children, and there was so much happiness in the air!

The cloudy weather ensured that the children did not tire, and it was a very enjoyable trip indeed.

My photos are up on my FB album

here

No…I didn’t click the birds or the butterflies…I was concentrating on the children this time!

On Monday, all going well, I will be taking the wheelchair-bound children (who could not do the Ragihalli walk) to the IIMB campus, where very different kinds of minds will meet, as IIMB kindly allows me to bring special children into an academically high-performance campus for the first time.

Bannerghatta National Park, Monthly Bird Survey, 100318

March 13, 2018

Since I was not able to go for the inaugurual (Feb ’18) monthly bird survey, I went to participate in the March survey.

The survey is across four ranges, Anekal, Bannerghatta, Harohalli and Kodigere, and will be held on the second Saturday of every month for a year, to give a holistic picture of bird life in the Bannerghatt National Park over the annual period.

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Birds of Karnataka, display board at Kalkere.

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Volunteers gathering for the survey

I got the Kalkere State Forest transect, BTL (Bannerghatta Transect Line) 1. My team-mates were:

Forest Guard Michael
Albert Ranjith
Byomakesh Palai
Pervez Younus

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Michael, Pervez,Byomakesh, Albert

We stopped every 10 minutes, took the GPS co-ordinates, and then moved on.

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The Kalkere State Forest was much more productive in terms of birds than I thought it would be, because the city has actually spread beyond this forest patch now.

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We passed some quarried rock, which gave a sad look to the landscape.

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However, the good thing was that the depressions had formed rock pools:

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Our trail was quite scenic, even if it was not heavy forest:

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However, the scrub forest was very interesting, and we got several birds. Here are some I managed to click.

Greater or Southern Coucal, drinking water at the edge of the rock pool:

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Oriental White-eye:

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Shikra:
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Green Bee-eater:

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Jerdon’s Bushlark:

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Black-winged Kite:

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Oriental Honey Buzzard:

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Indian Peafowl (this is a peacock in the glory of full breeding plumage):

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Vipin was our organizer for the Bannerghatta range, and I found him very sincere and hard-working. Here he is, taking notes with a forest guard:

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An excellent breakfast of iddli was provided midway through the transect:

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I did not restrict myself to observing only the birds; here are some other interesting beings:

Milkweed:
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Peninsular Rock Agama:

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Two unidentified but beautiful flowering plants:

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This was a tiny plant growing in the path!

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An un-id insect with huge eyes:

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A dragonfly:

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the Flame of the Forest, Butea monosperma, in full bloom:

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Tired, but mentally refreshed by the morning, and the beauty of the scrub forest

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I left for Mysore to take part in the Ranganathittu Bird Census the next morning.

The Flickr album of the survey is

here

and my FB album is

here

Nature walk for Munchkins Montessori, Puttenahalli kere, 151217

December 15, 2017

Letter to Chanda of Munchkins:

Hi Chanda,

The walk went very well. It was very nice to meet Priti, Mythili, Anna and others.

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List of various beings seen:

Birds:

Cormorant, Great

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Cormorant, Little
Egret, Cattle
Egret, Little
Heron, Pond
Kite, Common
Moorhen, Purple
Sunbird, Purple-rumped
Tailorbird, Common
Warbler, Greenish

Butterflies:

Bob, Chestnut
Cerulean, Common
Castor, Common
Emigrant, Common
Jezebel, Common
Lacewing, Common (eggs)
Leopard,Common
Pansy, Lemon

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Lime, Common
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Tiger, Plain
Tiger, Striped
Yellow, Common Grass

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Fishes:
Tilapia

Insects:

Bees
Damselflies
Dragonflies
Spiders
Wasps

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Trees and Plants

Bougainvillea
Badminton Ball
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Date Palm
Fig Tree
Honge
Mahogany
Neem
Pride of India
Sampige
Singapore Cherry

I talked about leaf composting, clearing weeds in the lake, the way birds’ beaks have different shapes, water and woodland birds, differences in leaves and tree bark, and about how much effort it takes to maintain a lake.

When I conduct walks I generally take far fewer photos. I have posted the photos on my FB album

here

Please share this link with the others.

Looking forward to future association with all of you…the children were truly delightful!

Cheers, Deepa

The tinies of Turahalli, 120817

August 15, 2017

As my friend Janhvi was going to do a trek to Turahalli State Forest as part of her Corporate Social Initiative (CSI), a few of us decided to join in.

True to the lacklustre response from her company, the usual number of people (two!) turned up….and we promptly hijacked the trek into a nature outing.

Here we are, at brefus before beginning the walk:

Akash, Janhvi, Anand, Subbu, Shoba, Padma and Ramaswamy

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We started our walk from a point not known to regular visitors….and the lesser-travelled path proved to be extremely productive.

Several tiny flowers caught our eye.

Andrographis serpyllifolia:

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Commelina sp:

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Ground Orchid, Habenaria roxburghii:

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The “Argyreia cuneata” name of this flower won’t stick in my mind, but its common name, “Mahalungi” will, for the wrong reasons!

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We were lucky to find this Ceropagia candelarbrum:

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Tiny flowers of the Dodonea viscosa:

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Some of us took a break to look up things:

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Unknown:

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We were also enchanted by some of the six-footers we saw. Sometimes the insects and flowers were together.

Blister beetle (on Clerodendron flowers):

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Ants on Leucas species:

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Sarcostemma acidum:

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Crinium, or the Spider Lily:

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Stachytarpeta, the Devil’s Coach Whip:’

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Such small beauties:

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Gulaganji, or Abrus precatorius:

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The tiny flower of the Bastard Sandal:

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This Puffball mushroom had broken, showing beautifully-speckled spores:

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A tiny fly on the Sarcostemma plant:

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A Common Wanderer female:

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A Bagworm Moth pupa:

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A Hoverfly (that huge part of the head are just its two compound eyes!)

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A Plain Tiger caterpillar:

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A Geometer moth:

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A Peninsular Rock Agama coming into breeding colours:

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We did go over a few rocks:

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Eggs on the Bastard Sandal:

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A Shield or Stink Bug:

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Even the Giant Wood Spider was smaller than usual!

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The insects got tinier:

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Of course, one of the highlights of the morning was sighting not one, but two

Atlas Moths

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Very satisfied with all that we’d seen, we went home…looking forward to the next outing!

T G Halli, 260617

June 27, 2017

A last-minute decision, and six of us, including a birder from Noida, Delhi, who will be moving to Bangalore in a while…off we went, in the predawn dark, to T G Halli Reservoir.

Padma Ramaswamy, Akhilesh Sharma, G S Ramaswamy, Y S Prasanna, Sudha Mahalingam

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It’s getting harder for me to categorize these outings as birding trips, as there is always so much more to observe and enjoy. Just watching the lush greenery that has sprung up after the rains, with the waters reflecting the scudding monsoon clouds, lifts the heart and
brings such joy.

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As we descended towards the water, we were stopped, literally in our tracks, by a Pioneer bush. This was one where the leaves had all been stripped away by the caterpillars of the Pioneer butterfly,

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which had then pupated on the branches and twigs.

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Many of the butterflies had just emerged or were emerging…

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and those which had taken on their new form were flittering around the bush. We could not help watching this dance of new life for a while.

There was also a bird’s nest in the middle of the bush.

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As we walked along the banks of the reservoir, the birds did not disappoint us, either. Beautiful little Indian Silverbills made music scores on the wires.

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Spot-blilled Pelicans, which are now resident birds, floated on the surface,

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…as did Little Grebes and Common Coots. Cormorants…Little, Great, and the distinctive Indian…flew and swam around, occasionally diving beneath the surface in search of food.

Ashy-crowned Sparrow Larks

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and Tawny Larks

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flitted about the landscape.

Ashy Prinias went about picking up prey and going to their nests.

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A Little Ringed Plover sat on a mud flat.

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Since it is the time of year when we can only see RBI (Resident Birds of India!), we watched two Spot-billed Ducks, and a Clamorous Reed Warbler. However, some Tawny Larks, flitting about, a Whte-browed Wagtail behaving according to its name, added to our list, as did this White-browed Bulbul.

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At one point, the sounds were much more than the actual sight of the birds! The Common Hawk Cuckoo called its complaint of “brain-feeever!”, Tailorbirds, Flowerpeckers (presumably the common Pale-billed variety) and Sunbirds added their calls, Grey Francolins and Red-wattled Lapwings (we did see some later) punctuated the general bird song with their phrases, too. We heard the trilling calls of the Green Bee-eaters long before we saw any.

Both the woodland and the water birds continued to delight us as we walked along. At two spots, active colonies of Baya Weaver nests were being constructed.

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We watched these residential layouts taking shape, and also being inspected by the prospective owners (is there a word such as “owneress”? as the inspectors were the ladies!)

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Flying between the nesting tree and the thorny date palm behind, the birds kept us quite occupied.

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It was business as usual for the contract fishermen on the lake.

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The birding was interrupted by more “buttering” (as Rohit Girotra says, if birdwatching is birding, then butterfly-watching is buttering!) as Pioneers, Crows, various Blues, Pansies, and others flew about us, mud-puddling and also basking in the weak sunshine.It’s not often that one gets to photograph the Blue butterflies with their wings open, and we made the most of the opportunity.

Forget-me-not

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Blue Pansy

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Plains Cupid

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Common Banded Awl

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Indian Skipper

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Grass Yellow

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Common Leopard

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We observed some insects, too, such as this Blister Beetle

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this Green Marsh Hawk Dragonfly

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and this Jewel Bug

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this caterpillar

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a Day-flying Handmaiden Moth

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Even the common Housefly can be beautiful up close!

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But a further treat awaited us a little further. Two juvenile Green Bee-eaters, which have, apparently, not (yet) developed any fear of humans, sat quite close to the path, and flew around us as they hawked insects from the air. Their plumage, much duller than that of the
adults, allowed them to melt into the foliage of the tree they sat in.

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We walked a little further, expecting them to fly off to a distance…but they did not. All of us had goofy smiles on our faces as they flew about our heads, and landed on twigs quite close to us!

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Here’s a full-frame shot of one of them.

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If only all birds,and indeed, all wild creatures, could be (safely)thus free of the fear of humans…well, for a little while, we were in that Utopia!

Just when we thought of turning back, a nice “zebra-backed” Hoopoe, foraging along the ground,

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kept us there for a while longer…

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Reluctantly, we turned back on the path, heading back towards the chores and commitments that awaited us back home.

The wildflowers were lovely too. The Water Hyacinth, an ornamental which is now choking up our waterways as an invasive pest, still has lovely flowers:

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The Cleome had begun to blossom:

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Commelina flowers made bright sparkles underfoot.

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But the scenes. of the cloudy, cool morning on the reservoir will surely be in our mind’s eyes, recharging our souls and getting us through the stresses and strains of our mundane weekdays…We wished every devout Muslim citizen Id Mubarak, as we went home.

Oh…the food? Since we were in a rush, we did not stop for the usual post-trip brefus, but we did have fun eating Padma’s sandwiches, and some of the sweets I’d brought from the wedding I attended on Sunday.

The eBird list (and an impressive one it is, too, for a “summer” outing!) is

here

and I’ve put up my photographs of the trip on an FB album

here

Birders:

Akhilesh
Padma/Ramaswamy
Prasanna
Sudha (from NOIDA)
and I

Butterflies:

Awl, Common Banded
Blues, various (the experts are still disagreeing over the up-wing photos of some of those I clicked, so I will stop with that, instead of going into Gram, Grass, Pea and so on!)
Baronet
Cerulean, Common
Coster, Tawny
Cupid, Plains
Emigrant, Common
Emigrant, Mottled
Forget-me-not
Gull, Common
Jezebel, Common
Leopard, Common
Lime,Common
Mormon, Common
Pansy, Blue
Pansy, Chocolate
Pansy, Lemon
Pioneer
Rose, Common
Rose, Crimson
Sunbeam, Indian
Skipper, Indian
Tiger, Plain
Yellow, Common Grass
Yellow, Three-spot Grass

Already looking forward to the next weekend and what it may bring,

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