Posts Tagged ‘wildlife’

Birding, now….

April 2, 2020

Gone are the days of birding travel.
The virus has made all my plans unravel.
From planning to see the Myzornis,
My birding world has shrunk to this:
How can I catch the Tailorbird,
Which whips in and out, and is only heard
Upon the terrace that I keep looking at? Why
Should these birds be so wary and shy?
Such a fleeting glimpse of the yellow White-eye…
What makes it so keen to zip and fly?
Why can’t it wait and pose for me
And let me take a photo…or three?
I have forgotten the forests, the deer and leopards
And even the various, colourful birds.
Mountain streams and riverside breeze,
Coastal stickiness and Himalayan freeze.
Life for me is the Barbet in the Bangalore sun.
Sighting a Koel is quite a lot of fun.
It’s the terrace that exerts a recurring pull,
For a sight of the Sunbird or the Bulbul.
Overhead, the v-shaped tails of the Black Kite.
The fluttering Pigeons, blue, grey and white.
I can’t even hear the Crows, of late,
Or see their throats of dull grey slate.
Birding is also memories: I go to my Flickr
And wish my broadband speed was quicker.
I visit, once again, birds all over the world:
Fieldfares, Bluebirds, Toucans, with their feathers unfurled.
I close my laptop and arise from my sofa,
And dream of the day when again I will go far
Looking for my beloved, favourite birds,
Which will then be real, not just photos and words!

grey-headed kingfisher

Grey-headed Kingfisher from Tanzania.

The Leaf-cutter Bee making a nest….

March 24, 2020

We were at the Kanakapura Police Station,

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trying to make a complaint to the traffic police (why and how is another long story!) and while Jayashree and I were waiting for Deepak to finish his work, we noticed a small insect flying into the open tube of the steel chair.

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I quickly realized that it was a

Leaf-cutter Bee

and that it was trying to make a nest in this space!

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I tried to take photos of it, and got just a couple of shots at odd intervals.You can see a fragment of a leaf being brought in every time.

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It was very tough to click because of the speed at which the insect went in…and since it came out even faster (it didn’t have the burden of the leaf!) I missed it several times. Then, I decided to take a video and got the insect leaving the hole.

You can see the bee zooming out:

Leaf-cutter Bees are mostly solitary, and build their nest cells in various cavities (the hollow arm of the chair appeared very suitable to this insect!) by cutting leaves or collecting resin and bringing them inside. They are, for the most part, above-ground nesters and more commonly attracted to artificial nests…and this one certainly was!

There is afossil record for megachilid from a Middle Eocene dicotyledonous leaf which shows definite semicircular cutouts along its margin, implying that leaf-cutting bees existed at that time.Amazing!

When Deepak came back after finishing his work, he might have felt that we were getting tired or bored…but thanks to the Leaf-cutter Bee, we never knew where the time went! Another opportunity for observing Nature at work in the most unexpected of places.

Documentation photography

March 5, 2020

Once again, let me state that one does not need a top-flight camera or a bazooka lens to make a significant image.

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Spotting this vulture in the air on 1 Mar ’20, from our accommodation at the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, I raised my little Canon SX50 and clicked. It is the critically-endangered White-rumped Vulture.

I am sure the photo (cropped) is not of any mention-worthy quality; but to me, it is important documentation of a bird which is being seen more and more rarely.

The Yellow-throated Sparrow, Mudumalai, 290220

March 2, 2020

Those who know their Indian bird lore know that the Chestnut-shouldered Petronia is the bird that inspired Dr Salim Ali to become an ornithologist. It was earlier called the Yellow-throated Sparrow, as the male shows a yellow throat in the breeding season. I caught these two males (you can see the yellow throat patch) at Mudumalai, Tamil Nadu, on 29 Feb ’20.

Tusker being bathed, Mudumalai, 290220

March 2, 2020

Not all captive elephants are ill-treated. I am happy to post this video of a camp elephant at Mudumalai, luxuriating in the stream. In the second video, you can see the mahout lovingly scrubbing the ears and head of this majestic tusker!

Here the mahout lovingly scrubs the ears and head:

I would love to sink down into a stream like that and have someone bathe me! Pampering is the word for it.

Email to Bngbirds about Mavathur Kere, 170220

February 24, 2020

When the first report of the “phoren birds”…the European Bee-eaters that pass through our area around this time of the year….came in, I didn’t think too much about it. After all, I told myself, I have seen them in the past…glad that someone else can see them now! I fully expected that they would be gone the next day, as usually happens.

But no! This year, the Foreign Bee-eaters seemed to have decide, partially at least, to follow the example of the Spot-billed Pelicans, many of which have practically bought 3BHK apartments and settled down in Bangalore, and can be seen all year round. They (probably expert birders refer to them as EBE, at the risk of sounding as if they are whistling at a pretty girl!) decided to tarry a while. They are not precisely in Bangalore (as in, sitting on top of Vidhan Soudha), but about 40km away. Every day, I got reports reading, “We (this ‘we’ never included ‘me’!) went and they were there”. The birds seemed to fly off at 7.30am or so, meaning that birders would have to reach Mavathur lake area at least half an hour prior to that.I looked at the BMTC bus that I usually use, and put certain “shall I?” thoughts away.

But when my friend Srikanth asked me if I’d like to come along, temptation beckoned. I had gone to Jigani campus of IIMB on Sunday morning; attended to a domestic crisis in the afternoon; conducted the 3rd Sunday walk at Madivala kere in the evening, helped someone’s parent to the hospital at night,and was (am) going to leave for the Chambal Bird Survey on Monday evening. The sensible thing was to sleep well, and forget those birds.

So of course, like Eve (not EBE) and the forbidden fruit…I fell! Being me, I quickly filled up Srikanth’s car with two more passengers (why have 2 people looking at, or for, the birds, when more could do it?), Mamta (from Bhubaneswar) and Padma, we set off in the pre-dawn darkness, with Siva’s tips to guide us.

These tips being very accurate, we arrived at the Google Maps-designated “Your destination has arrived” early enough to walk for about 15 to 20 minutes, beguiled by other birds such as Little Grebes, Coots, and a little blue jewel of a Kingfisher, to the spot where we could see the two electricity pylons. And as we neared them, I did see a few silhouettes beginning to perch on the wires.

The light improved enough to see that they, were, indeed, the European Bee-eaters; these were lifers for all three of my friends. We walked over a rickety wooden bridge, and approached the “bande” or boulders.

The other three managed to climb up; alas, my dinky knee, and the thought of a long journey to Madhya Pradesh awaiting me, kept me back, particularly because of the loose small pebbles and rocks which, I was sure, would roll me down like Jack and Jill! However, I followed a broader path that skirted the boulders, and I could soon see the bee-eaters quite well, if not very close. Since I am far from being a NatGeo photographer, the sight of these colourful beauties, and a few documentation shots, sufficed me.

There were also several kinds of Swallows on the wires; and the beautiful Common Sand Martins I had been told about were there too! I watched for a while, as the birds made their own avian music notations on the wires, as well as chittering away. The Bee-eaters suddenly flew away, at about 7.20am.

Quite content, I looked over the valley, with its check dam and little temple, on the path from which a farmer was bringing his cattle to the fields for the morning’s work. I walked about, seeing several Rufous-tailed Larks, both adult and babies (Larklings? Larkettes?) and many Munias and Silverbills.

By this time, I had armed myself with a stout stick (I’d already fallen once and pulled Mamta down with me too!) and was able to negotiate the Bridge (being a keen birder, I nearly typed “birdge”!) over the River Kwai, well, the wooden slats over the ditch, and came back to the shore of the lake, along with the others.

Here, more unexpected delights awaited us. A Woolly-necked Stork stood, plumb spang in the middle of our path as did a Pond Heron. Clicking contentedly, we also sighted several waterfowl, including a group of Northern Shovellers (I’ve never seen a Southern Shoveller, do they exist?) on the water.

Back to the where the car was parked, a Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher in the fields, and a Blue-faced Malkoha doing its usual skulking act in a wood-apple tree, made a fitting finale to a most enjoyable morning.

We stopped to have breakfast at the new outer space restaurant at Ravugodlu (it’s called NASA’s Davangere Benne Dose!) and filled up our inner space, and returned home by 11 am, well satisified with the morning’s outing!

I do hope that many of you will be going over to see these stunningly colourful visitors to our area before they decide to move on. My eBird list from the morning (what a haul!) is at

https://ebird.org/checklist/S64628920

I have put up my photos on FB at

https://www.facebook.com/deemopahan/media_set?set=a.10157323019538878&type=3

and on Flickr at

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I have included a few videos and photos in my quick-notes blogpost at

Now excuse me, while I go and pack…binoculars? check! Grimmskipp? check!

Cheers, Deepa.

Bngbirds 3rd Sunday outing: Madivala Kere, evening, 160220

February 17, 2020

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Following Deepak Jois’ suggestion that I conduct an evening walk, I met up with a reasonably large group of birders at the entrance of Madivala lake at 4.30 pm, after paying uncomplainingly for parking, entry and cameras.

I had been a little worried about the other visitors to the lake, but as it turned out, they were not a hindrance at all. From our meeting point, we could scan the lake…and the first thing that struck us was the horrific growth of the water hyacinth, which appears ready to choke off the entire water body. Boating too, has been stopped because of this. It seemed to be more of a green lawn with some stretches of water.

However, there was enough water for several birds. Purple and Grey Herons, a huge flock of Intermediate Egrets (I have not seen this large a congregation before), Purple Swamphens (no, I will not call them Grey-headed!) and Coots moved around in the vegetation. There was a lone Pelican in the water, but most of them were roosting on the island, waiting to come down to fish later, perhaps.

Moving on, we heard the calls of Barbets and Bulbuls; some of us sighted a few, too. Sunbirds flitted around on the Singapore Cherry tree, as did a solitary Pale-billed Flowerpecker (Sabyasachi told me that they are called “Tuntuni” in Bengali…I know some names like Shalik and Tiya, but this was something I learnt today).

Some Asian Openbill storks were also spotted on the island, and Job exclaimed at seeing several Northern Shovellers on the far side of the waterbody. His sharp-eyed spotting enabled all of us to enjoy a peek at these winter visitors.

Meanwhile, three majestic Marsh Harriers entertained us (and terrified the birds) throughout the walk, alternately perching on the water hyacinth or floating over the water with their whitish heads and the typical “headlights” on their wings showing, as they hunted for unwary prey.

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The light on the water turned golden as sunset approached, and it was a great time to watch the birds as they foraged for food. I enjoyed the company of several of the children. Ahana, Surya, Trayee, Vismaya…some of the names that I remember…these were some of the children whom I interacted with. Surya, in particular, seems very knowledgeable about bird names, and was often testing me to see if I knew enough! Such bright and interested minds are fun to spend time with!

We walked to the left of the entrance gate, till past 6pm. Then, as several people bid adieu, I too decided to turn back as the lake gates close at 6.15pm. We were all out of the lake, as I had said, by 6.30 pm, leaving the lake to flights of Little Egrets flying in, and bats beginning to flit about in the gloaming.

The eBird list (45+ species) is at

https://ebird.org/checklist/S64561731

I took few photographs as I was busy scanning the lake with my binoculars! My FB album is at

https://www.facebook.com/deemopahan/media_set?set=a.10157320888153878&type=3

and my Flickr album on

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Thanks to everyone for joining in, and letting me enjoy the golden sunset in the still-pleasant weather of a February evening!

Cheers, Deepa.

European Bee-eaters, Mavathur Kere, off Kanakapura Road, 170220

February 17, 2020

eBird list, 47 species:

https://ebird.org/checklist/S64628920

Vapour rising from the lake in the dawn light:

Rufous-tailed Lark parent and child:

Natural strobe at NASA’s restaurant on Kanakapura Road:

Dawn:

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European Bee-eaters:

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Small Blue Kingfisher:

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Rufous-tailed Larks:

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Woolly-necked Stork:

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Pond Heron:

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Brefus at NASA’s:

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Bngbirds 3rd Sunday walk, Madivala kere, 160220, evening

February 16, 2020

Following Deepak Jois’ suggestion that I conduct an evening walk, I met up with a reasonably large group of birders at the entrance of Madivala lake at 4.30 pm, after paying uncomplainingly for parking, entry and cameras.

I had been a little worried about the other visitors to the lake, but as it turned out, they were not a hindrance at all. From our meeting point, we could scan the lake…and the first thing that struck us was the horrific growth of the water hyacinth, which appears ready to choke off the entire water body. Boating too, has been stopped because of this. It seemed to be more of a green lawn with some stretches of water.

However, there was enough water for several birds. Purple and Grey Herons, a huge flock of Intermediate Egrets (I have not seen this large a congregation before), Purple Swamphens (no, I will not call them Grey-headed!) and Coots moved around in the vegetation. There was a lone Pelican in the water, but most of them were roosting on the island, waiting to come down to fish later, perhaps.

Moving on, we heard the calls of Barbets and Bulbuls; some of us sighted a few, too. Sunbirds flitted around on the Singapore Cherry tree, as did a solitary Pale-billed Flowerpecker (Sabyasachi told me that they are called “Tuntuni” in Bengali…I know some names like Shalik and Tiya, but this was something I learnt today).

Some Asian Openbill storks were also spotted on the island, and Job exclaimed at seeing several Northern Shovellers on the far side of the waterbody. His sharp-eyed spotting enabled all of us to enjoy a peek at these winter visitors.

Meanwhile, three majestic Marsh Harriers entertained us (and terrified the birds) throughout the walk, alternately perching on the water hyacinth or floating over the water with their whitish heads and the typical “headlights” on their wings showing, as they hunted for unwary prey.

The light on the water turned golden as sunset approached, and it was a great time to watch the birds as they foraged for food. I enjoyed the company of several of the children. Ahana, Surya, Trayee, Vismaya…some of the names that I remember…these were some of the children whom I interacted with. Surya, in particular, seems very knowledgeable about bird names, and was often testing me to see if I knew enough! Such bright and interested minds are fun to spend time with!

We walked to the left of the entrance gate, till past 6pm. Then, as several people bid adieu, I too decided to turn back as the lake gates close at 6.15pm. We were all out of the lake, as I had said, by 6.30 pm, leaving the lake to flights of Little Egrets flying in, and bats beginning to flit about in the gloaming.

The eBird list (45+ species) is at

https://ebird.org/checklist/S64561731

I took few photographs as I was busy scanning the lake with my binoculars! My FB album is at

https://www.facebook.com/deemopahan/media_set?set=a.10157320888153878&type=3

and my Flickr album on

IMG_4534

Thanks to everyone for joining in, and letting me enjoy the golden sunset in the still-pleasant weather of a February evening!

Cheers, Deepa.

Flickr albums and videos of 3rd bird survey at Satpura Tiger Reserve, 04-110220

February 11, 2020

04,05,06 Feb, train to Itarsi/Sohagpur/Madhai, and morning birding at Madhai mud flats

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7th Feb, Parraspani:

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8th Feb, Parraspani and Dhargaon:

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9th Feb, Parraspani and return to Madhai:

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Praveen was sent to Podar and returned to Churna for the last night. We took 2.5 to 3 hours to get there and to return to Madhai. No phones, no food, no forest guard.

Crossing the Denwa river at Parraspani:

Nilgai family on the way back from Dhargaon to Parraspani:

Chital swimming across the river at Madhai:

Little Ringed Plover bathing, Madhai: