Posts Tagged ‘wiki’

The Red-breasted Flycatcher, Nandi Hills, 241214

December 24, 2014

This morning, I went with Savithri Singh, her son Kartik and his friend Karuna, Brinda, and Sharmila, to Nandi Hills.

Though it certainly didn’t rain birds, we saw enough to keep us quite happy, and one of the highlights of the outing was the

RED-THROATED FLYCATCHER

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that flew about, delighting us.

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I wanted to find the difference between the Red-breasted and the Red-throated Flycatcher, and I read that the Red-breasted Flycatcher is Ficedula parva ,” is a small passerine bird in the Old World flycatcher family. It breeds in eastern Europe and across central Asia and is migratory, wintering in south Asia:…. and “the Asian species, Ficedula albicilla, previously considered a subspecies of the red-breasted flycatcher, has the red throat surrounded by grey and a different song. It is usually now separated as the Taiga flycatcher.”

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Why Taiga? Because…this bird goes to breed in Poland! However, one disturbing fact is that
“Studies on their spring arrivals to the breeding quarters in Poland from 1973–2002 show that males are returning earlier with increasing temperatures.”

They are found mainly deciduous woodlands, especially near water. They build an open nest in a tree hole or similar recess. 4–7 eggs are laid.

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The

Wiki entry

about the Taiga Flycatcher has this to say:

“In winter they are mostly silent but have a typical chip-chip-chr-rrr flycatcher call. In their breeding season, the song consists of melodious whistles, like that of the European pied flycatcher.”

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For other photos from the outing, click on my FB album

here .

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A light breakfast, Forest Park, 140914

September 15, 2014

After I caught sight of the Osprey fishing in the Grand Basin in Forest Park, my friend Danny Brown pinged me, and we arranged to go to Forest Park again on Sunday to try our luck.

As he went to park the car near the Visitors Center, I caught sight of this

COOPER’S HAWK

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An unfortunate bird had become prey to the talons and beak of this raptor, and was being polished off on top of a light fixture!

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The Cornell Lab of Ornithology says, Cooper’s Hawk, Accipiter cooperii, is “A medium-sized hawk with the classic accipiter shape: broad, rounded wings and a very long tail. In Cooper’s Hawks, the head often appears large, the shoulders broad, and the tail rounded.”

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From the yellow eye, it was apparent that this was a sub-adult.

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This bird was named after the naturalist William Cooper, one of the founders of the New York Lyceum of Natural History.

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Their breeding range extends from southern Canada to northern Mexico.

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The sun was coming up behind the bird, and I experimented with taking the shots against it:

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The wiki says, “These birds capture prey from cover or while flying quickly through dense vegetation, relying almost totally on surprise. One study showed that this is a quite dangerous hunting style.” They even prey on other raptors if they can, or small mammals.

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During their flight displays the male will begin by diving toward the female. A slow speed-chase follows involving the male flying around the female exposing his expanded under tail coverts to her. The male raises his wings high above the back and flies in a wide arc with slow, rhythmic flapping. Courting usually occurs on bright, sunny days, in midmorning…not at all surprising weather for romance!

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Over a two-week period the pair builds the nest, and the female incubates the eggs between 30 to 36 days.

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Cooper’s hawks have been known to live as long as 12 years in the wild, and rarely fall prey to other raptors like Red-tailed Hawks, Great Horned Owls, Peregrine Falcons, Golden Eagles, and Northern Goshawks.

The Cooper’s hawk, as a natural predator of almost any North American bird smaller than itself, can inadvertently deplete populations of rarer, conservation-dependent species. The American kestrel, whose populations have experienced considerable decrease, is one species in which the extensive predation by the recovered Cooper’s hawk population is a major concern. So this is one instance where conservation has had another side to it!

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We left this fascinating bird of prey to the remnants of its meal, and went on our way.

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The Green Heron, Forest Park, 100814

August 11, 2014

It felt good to be out, after a killer few days, walking in Forest Park. I strolled on(thanks to two fractured big toes,and a sprained ankle, my walking is only strolling these days) towards the Prairie area, and the stream.

I was amply rewarded by this

GREEN HERON

fishing in the waters of the stream; I saw it sitting there, in an attentive pose:

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Then, as the fish was sighted,there was this flurry of fishing:

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The fish was well-caught:

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The Wiki entry says the Green Heron, (Butorides virescens), is “is relatively small; adult body length is about 44 cm (17 in). The neck is often pulled in tight against the body. Adults have a glossy, greenish-black cap, a greenish back and wings that are grey-black grading into green or blue, a chestnut neck with a white line down the front, grey underparts and short yellow legs. The bill is dark with a long, sharp point.” Such beautiful colours, named just as a bland “Green”!

“Green Herons are intolerant of other birds when feeding,” says the Wiki, but this Heron I saw was right next to three Mallards, and seemed pretty tolerant of their presence.

One of the amazing facts about these birds, is that “sometimes they drop food, insects, or other small objects on the water’s surface to attract fish, making them one of the few known tool-using species. This feeding method has led some to title the green and closely related Striated Heron as among the world’s most intelligent birds.”

I left this intelligent bird to the rest of its breakfast, and walked to see what other delights Forest Park had for me…and as usual, Forest Park did not disappoint me!

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Birding and bubble algae, 210714

July 24, 2014

I took this pic of a Northern Shoveller in a pond:

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And of two thorougly “ducking” into their food:

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I was very intrigued by those algae bubbles, which added quite a surreal touch to the photograph. So I googled, and ofkose, there was quite a lot of info…

here

I realized that algae bubbles seem to be classified as “pests” for reef tank enthusiasts.

“When we hear of ‘bubble algae’, one reflex is to think of the infamous “Valonia ventricosa”, without even considering the many other algae that form bubble-like structures. Premature judgment can be regrettable, but there is this added twist: the much-cited ‘Valonia’ of our nightmares is no longer Valonia, but, thanks to Olsen & West (1988) now has its own Genus, Ventricaria. ”

Suggestions were given for controlling the algae:

“e can try to manually reduce said presence to provide relief, and include in the affected tank a set of agencies that exert pressure against the problem alga. Since availability of usable nutrients fuels the alga’s aggressive growth and reproduction, we attempt to restrict such availability. That is pretty much the standard threefold approach to most algal outbreaks:

1. Manual removal of the problem alga
2. Suppression via appropriate herbivores
3. Denial of resources

Normally, there would be a fourth aspect, of fiddling with temperature, pH, or some other physical-environmental parameter to suppress the problem alga. However, the environmental tolerances of most bubble algae exceed those of most ornamentals put into reef tanks.”

I can’t find much about naturally-occurring bubble algae, though, I get only reefkeeping fora!

Therefore, I decided that for this particular (public) pond, near the Campushallen (University) where I photographed the ducks, algae bubbles, far from being a “problem”, actually food for the birds.

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So…I don’t care about the unhappy reef tank lovers, I am very happy indeed that the Northern Shovellers were happily feeding on these bubbles and enjoying themselves!

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Ducklings, water and green bubbles…is there anything else required for sheer enjoyment of the childish kind?

Interesting sculpture…and roundabout dogs….more questions! Linkoping, Sweden, 230614

June 27, 2014

As I came by bus into Linkoping, I caught sight of this very large hoop adorning one of the roundabouts:

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I caught sight of a statue (life-size) of a dog, placed looking askance at the hoop, as if to ask, “What should I do?” only when the bus sped past.

But a few days later, when PC and I walked down to Biltema and the IKEA shop, I was able to get a much better picture of this dog-and-hoop, and here it is:

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You can clearly see the dog looking at the beautifully-balanced hoop!

Trying to get more information about this sculpture, I googled the following words: “roundabout dog sculpture linkoping sweden”…and got

this very interesting link

about roundabout dogs!

“A roundabout dog (Swedish: rondellhund, originally Östgötsk rondellhund, “Östergötland roundabout dog”, a pun on västgötaspets) is a form of street inThe roundabout dogs started appearing in Linköping, Östergötland, Sweden (and were therefore originally called: de östgötska rondellhundarna), after a sculptured dog that was part of the official roundabout installation Cirkulation II (English: Circulation II) by sculptor Stina Opitz had been vandalised and later removed. The original dog had been made of concrete, and Stina Opitz was planning to make a new version of it after the vandalism, when someone placed a homemade wooden dog on the roundabout. The dog was given a concrete dogbone by another anonymous artist. Soon after the media reported these developments, roundabout dogs started appearing in various places around the country.

Peter Nyberg (maker of the first ‘Rondellhund’) of Linköping told tabloid Expressen that his dogs were intended to “mock the state-employed artists, who get so much money to make sculptures that we can do just as well ourselves”. In some smaller towns where there were no roundabouts, dog sculptures were placed in ordinary intersections with traffic islands.

The Swedish artist Lars Vilks made a drawing depicting the Islamic prophet Muhammad as a roundabout dog. This was published in a Swedish local newspaper in July 2007. It provoked accusations of blasphemy from some Muslim groups in the Middle East. (See Lars Vilks Muhammad drawings controversy.) The 2010 Stockholm bombings are considered to be sparked partially because of the cartoon.”

That was certainly something to make me think…. I read on:

“In April 2007 Bjorn Andersson started building roundabout dogs in his workshop south of Stockholm. His mission is to keep rondellhund at Philanthropic Street Art level and to give a moment of enjoyment to all people traveling by car. His dogs have traveled the world to places in the USA, in Australia and in the UK.”

How surprising! The wiki goes on further to say:

“In 2009, similar dogs started appearing on some of the roundabouts in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshirestallation, that began occurring in Sweden during the autumn of 2006, and continued for the rest of the year with sporadic occurrences since then. The phenomenon consists of anonymous people placing homemade dog sculptures, typically made of wood (or sometimes plastic, metal or textile) in roundabouts (traffic circles). Occurrences were reported all over Sweden, and the phenomenon also spread to other countries, such as Spain after it was mentioned on Spanish television (PuntoDos). Swedish tabloid paper Expressen even placed one at Piccadilly Circus.”

The dog I’ve photographed is not a wooden dog in this sense, and now I am unable to understand if the hoop was placed there first and the dog “added” as part of the “roundabout dog” theme, or whether they do belong together.

So…in the process of finding out more information on the net, I seem to have opened up more of an enigma! I wish there was someone in Linkoping whom I could ask..I’m afraid the language (and the fact of most sites being in Swedish and not translating too well) IS proving a barrier to learning a lot about what I am seeing around me.

April 11, 2014

I was dozing off in a fit of heat-inducing somnolence from somewhere out of my dull brain came the thought of my mother…and her love of wildlife documentaries. She was far, far ahead of her times…she had Salim Ali’s bird book with her, though she only watched garden birds..and we often went into the jungles of West Bengal and north India. In a time when wildlife was plentiful, she enjoyed reading about it and going to watch it. I still remember the trips we used to make to places like Betla Game Sanctuary in Bihar, where we saw magnificient tigers…

I thought of two documentaries that my mothe raved about.

One was

The Living Desert, by Walt Disney (69 minutes), made in 1953

Here’s the description of the amazing way in which this amazing, path-breaking movie came about:

Winner of the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature of 1953, Walt Disney’s The Living Desert marked a departure from earlier Disney “wildlife” productions in that it was a full-length film. All previous subjects in the studio’s True-Life Adventures series had been shorts.

Disney was inspired to make the film after viewing footage taken by a UCLA doctoral student of a thrilling battle between a wasp and a tarantula. The producer agreed to fund the project which was filmed in the southwest U.S. The film, which focused on the diversity of often unseen animal life was both a critical and commercial success, a rarity for the era.

In addition to receiving an Oscar for The Living Desert, Disney collected three other Academy Awards in 1953, at the time a record for one individual. The Living Desert was chosen for preservation in the National Film Registry in 2000 for its’ “cultural, historical and aesthetic significance.”

Here’s a snip from the documentary, choreographed delightfully to a square dance (with an observer, too!)

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Another film was “The Flute and The Arrow”, which I never saw. But the name, etched into my subconscious like many childhood memories are, suddenly re-surfaced.

I googled for “The Flute and The Arrow”, and I realized that it is actually a Swedish wildlife documentary, 88 minutes long, made in 1957:

called, ” En djungelsaga” in Swedish

and I tried to see if I could watch it online.

Here is a video about following up on the main character, a Bastar tribal, long after the documentary was made:

this, in itself, is well worth watching! But alas, I am not able to get either The Living Desert or The Flute and The Arrow online…could someone help?

We tend to think only of Discovery or NatGeo when talking about wildlife documentaries, but there must have been a solid body of work in the past, before these became household names. I’m glad I was able to dig out two out of my erratic memory!

How difficult it must have been, to make these films in times where far less technology was available

There was also the Disney documentary, “The Vanishing Prairie”…can others come up with more such wildlife films from the past?

A giant of a palm tree! Kanakapura “Pipe” Road, 280114

March 10, 2014

On the way to Sundaghatta, I suddenly was struck by a truly majestic, dead tree!

This was, I learnt from Arun Kumar,

Corypha umbraculifera, the TALIPOT PALM

which is a species of palm native to eastern and southern India (Malabar Coast) and Sri Lanka.

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It is one of the largest palms in the world; individual specimens have reached heights of up to 25 m (82 ft) with stems up to 1.3 m (4.25 ft) in diameter.[1]
You can see its height above the coconut palm trees:

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It is a fan palm (Arecaceae tribe Corypheae), with large, palmate leaves up to 5 m (16 ft) in diameter, with a petiole up to 4 m (13 ft), and up to 130 leaflets.

The talipot palm bears the largest inflorescence of any plant, 6-8 m (20-26 ft) long, consisting of one to several million small flowers borne on a branched stalk that forms at the top of the trunk (the titan arum, Amorphophallus titanum, from the family Araceae, has the largest unbranched inflorescence, and the species Rafflesia arnoldii has the world’s largest single flower).

The talipot palm is monocarpic, flowering only once, when it is 30 to 80 years old. It takes about a year for the fruit to mature, producing thousands of round, yellow-green fruit 3-4 cm (1.2-1.6 in) in diameter, each containing a single seed.

The plant dies after fruiting.

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The talipot palm is cultivated throughout Southeast Asia, north to southern China. Historically, the leaves were written upon in various Southeast Asian cultures using an iron stylus to create palm leaf manuscripts. This must have been the original “olai chuvadu”!

The tree is known as kudapana in Malayalam Language, which means “umbrella” palm tree. On the Malabar Coast, the palm leaves were used to make traditional umbrellas for agricultural workers and students in rural areas until a few decades ago.

What a wonderful amount of information from one stray look at a huge dead tree!

The Purple-rumped Sunbird, Sundaghatta, 280114

March 5, 2014

In Sundghatta, we stopped the car to watch a few birds, and as usual, these beautiful little

PURPLE-RUMPED SUNBIRDS

caught our attention as they flitted to and fro on the Calatropis bushes.

Here’s the lady…

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and the gentleman….

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The Purple-rumped Sunbird(Leptocoma zeylonica) are endemic to the Indian Subcontinent. They usually feed on nectar from flowers, but can sometimes eat insects. Purple-rumped Sunbirds are tiny at less than 10 cm long. they have medium-length thin down-curved bills and brush-tipped tubular tongues, both adaptations to their nectar feeding.I don’t know how they can eat insects with that!When the flowers are too deep to probe, they sometimes pierce the base of the flower and rob the nectar.

Their hanging pouch nests are made up of cobwebs, lichens and plant material. Imagine, collecting cobwebs and making nests out of that!

Male sunbirds can be very aggressive towards what they perceive to be rivalry.

here

is my post (July 23, 2010) about the way a male Sunbird attacked his own reflection, at JLR Bandipur, believing it to be a rival!

The Indian Silverbill, 011113

November 2, 2013

When you’ve been fasting, you tend to break your fast…and overdo it! I’d not seen anything of Indian birds for a longish time now, and when we went to

Muthur

to help my friend Shangon celebrate the life of her husband, who passed away in 2005, I just walked around the school building while the speeches were going on.

Just behind the toilets,a barbed wire fence separated the High School property from a field of millet; and there, I was delighted to find a group of

INDIAN SILVERBILLs

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alternately foraging on the ground,

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and sitting on the fence, or the telephone wires.

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So I just clicked away happily!

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The Indian Silverbill or White-throated Munia (Lonchura malabarica), the Wiki says, is a small passerine (sparrow-like) bird, which forages in flocks in in grassland and scrub habitats….and in several villages!

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They are

Estrildid finches which means they are included in the genus “Lonchura”, and are called weaver-finches.

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They are found in flocks of as many as 60 birds.

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They feed on the ground or on low shrubs and grass stalks. They constantly utter a low cheeping or chirping contact call as they forage. They visit water and drink with a rapid sip and swallow action.

It feeds mainly on seeds, but also takes insects and has been known to visit nectar bearing flowers, such as those of Erythrina trees

The breeding season is spread out and varies with region. They nest in winter in southern India and after summer in northern India. They nest, an untidy ball of grasses with an opening on the side, is placed in low shrubs, often on thorny Acacia and are known to make use of the old nests of Baya Weaver sometimes even visiting those that are occupied by the weaver birds. They will sometimes build their nest below the platform nests of vultures or storks!

Here the beak structure, suited to the cracking and eating of seeds, can be clearly seen:

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The clutch varies from 4 to 8 white eggs and these are incubated by both parents for about 11 days. Helpers may be involved in breeding as more than a pair are sometimes seen at a nest.
It’s a pity I couldn’t see any nests nearby!

I even took this ideo showing one bird foraging:

The Indian Silverbill brought me back to Indian birding, and what a delightful start it was!

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Indian Percussion Instruments

October 21, 2013

I met

Laren Loveless

a very dynamic musician and percussionist, at the Bonfire event organized by the St.Louis Beacon. I decided to send him a video featuring Indian percussion instruments.

Featured are some of the percussion instruments of classical south Indian, and one of classical north Indian music.

It starts with

the Tabla

the north Indian drum-set. Then, we come to the south Indian classical instruments, played in concert regularly. (Click on the name of each instrument for the Wiki entry on it)

the Kanjira

the Morsing

the Konnakol

or oral rendition of the rhythm patterns, called “bol” in north Indian music and “jathi” in south Indian music.

the Mridangam

the Ghatam

the Thavil

I’m sorry, the recording is not of very high quality, but I chose it because one north Indian and all the south Indian percussion instruments (which are used today on concert platforms) are featured.

We have a complex (and highly rule-bound and structured) patterns of rhythms, which are called “taala”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tala_(music)

The north and south Indian systems of classical music are quite different, but share a lot of features, too.

All our instruments are tuned to a particular pitch before being played, except, perhaps, the morsing.

Western drums (we are especially fond of the bongos!) are extensively used in our movie and light music. One of our very talented contemporary music drummers is

Sivamani .