?

Log in

No account? Create an account

deponti to the world

my 2 cents

Campus Bird Count, IIMB, 170219
wave
deponti
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.


IMG_0008

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.

IMG_0051

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.

IMG_0085
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


IMG_0026

... 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.

IMG_0074

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,

IMG_0124

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

IMG_0094

Emigrant, Common
Jezebel, Common
Judy, Suffused Double-banded
IMG_0098
Leopard, Common
Orange-tip, White
Pansy, Chocolate
Pansy, Lemon
Rose, Common
Skipper, Indian Grizzled
Tiger, Blue
Tiger, Plain

IMG_0093
Yellow, Common Grass
Yellow, Three-spot Grass

Looking forward to reports from other campuses and 'backyards',

Deepa.

IMG_0121

The difference
wave
deponti
Some people string together words.
They write well, and their prose
Makes one think, and muse
Upon their meaning, and one's own opinions.
But others...they pull words together
Like notes of music, and create poetry.
There may be no rhyme or prettiness...
But the words bring a fullness to one's heart,
And, sometimes, moisture to one's eyes.
What is prose, what is poetry?
The eyes and the mind may not know the difference.
But the heart knows
Poetry from prose.

Nature Feature, Feb '19: Hayath and the world of many legs
wave
deponti
For a while now, the world of insects and spiders has begun to be revealed to everyone, through the medium of photography. As the micro-sized creatures are captured through macro photography, stunningly weird-looking creatures appear on social media feeds, making us feel that these, surely, are beings from a different planet!

No, these creatures are not "out of this world" at all. It's just that their tiny size prevents us from seeing them in detail. Another reason why we know little about them is that they are often so well camouflaged, as leaves, bark, or other natural phenomena, that we overlook them completely.

Hayath Mohammed is one young man who, even as a child, was drawn to these smaller living beings. "I would walk around in the garden and find enough to interest me and keep me occupied," he says. He invested in a camera to be able to document what he saw.

His parents have been supportive of his interest in these many-footed creatures, he adds. Indeed, he says, "My mother likes to go birding with me, and since she has also observed the various kinds of spiders and insects, she's very understanding about my fascination for them".

IMG_3517
An Antlion, one of the creatures Hayath showed me

He joined several fora for various insects, and soon learned to distinguish bugs from beetles, hoppers from weevils, and wasps from flies. "I tend to only think of their scientific names, not their common ones, as the common names tend to be generic," he remarks. "When I talked about a Signature Spider, for example, I would quickly be asked which kind I meant, so I quickly learnt the specific scientific names."

During the course of our short walk together in Doresanipalya, he did bring out quite a lot of these names for the spiders. Arachnura, Argiope, Cyclosa, the names rolled off his tongue,but didn't quite roll into my ear as easily!

On the photography front, too, Hayath says, it's been a big ride. "I got started with a Sony point and shoot gifted by my uncle." he says. "I used that for a while before moving to a Sony H2."Since then," he adds, "I've moved to a Canon DSLR system and then, recently, to the micro four thirds Olympus system. My current macro equipment costs around Rs 50,000 in total." Certainly, if it should be counted as a hobby, it's quite an expensive one!

But more than a hobby, it's a matter of a passionate pursuit for Hayath. "Macro photography can be extremely satisfying as a genre, " he remaks. One need not spend so much, he adds. According to him, there are several low budget options to get started:

1. Clip on lenses for smart phones
2. Reversing short focal length lenses on an existing DSLR
3. Using a Raynox DCR 250 clip-on diopter for telephoto lenses and bridge cameras.

But sooner or later, one does wind up investing larger amounts of money to get the perfect image! "Proper use of light plays an important role in making good images, as with any other genre of photography," he is quick to point out. He uses a Rs.5 thermocole Hi board as a light diffuser with his expensive flash equipment! So the combination of expensive equipment and cheap "jugaad" works well for him.

Here is Hayath, looking around at the trees, the leaves (on, around, and under them!) with his equipment, for the various creatures that he finds so interesting, and photographs so well.

IMG_3532

Here is his incredibly beautiful image of a Cicada:

cicadahayath
Photo: Hayath Mohammed

Let's wish Hayath every success on the path he has set himself, of documenting the small creatures of the urban jungles..... creatures that most of us never get to see at the level of detail he achieves.

Madivala Kere: 4th Sunday Bngbirds outing, 270119
wave
deponti
Though Bangalore has not had too much of winter this year, it was still an overcast morning when more than forty of us met at Madivala kere (lake) for the first 4th Sunday outing of 2019.

IMG_3736

more, if you wish to look and readCollapse )

A few of us breakfasted at Check Post in J P Nagar afterwards,

IMG_3777


while others dispersed to waiting families. Well satisfied with the morning's sightings and observations, off we went to our other Sunday commitments.

K2 on his 6th birthday
wave
deponti
Me: Happy birthday!
K2: You be the Evil Grandmother for my breakfast.
Me: "pluk-pluk-pluk"...I indicate a thought bubble over my head, saying, "Aha! He isn't eating! This is a good time to go and steal his Lego Nexo Knights."
K2: Promptly swallows a spoonful of his scrambled eggs.
Me: "pluk-pluk-pluk"...indicate a thought balloon that says, "FOILED!!" (I have to underline it in the air with my hand.)
This goes on until scrambled eggs, the RB (Regulation Banana) and milk are all finished. Ask me why I am exhausted at 8am? I have already staged a full-scale drama! George Bernard Shaw has nothing on me!
Off he goes on the school bus, with me savouring the kiss the reluctant little face dropped on my cheek.

How old are you, I asked him.

IMG_3861

Here he is, quite thoughtful at his party yesterday:

IMG_3851

No, we didn't take him to McD, but Ronald was nearby and I clicked:

IMG_3782

His grandfather brought in the gods...Rama and Hanuman...to the birthday party:

IMG_3821

Here's his birthday cake, which quite aptly looks like a devil:

IMG_3794

Here he is, look at the butcher's knife he's using!

IMG_3839

Asian Waterfowl Census, Hoskote kere, 130119
wave
deponti
It's always a tug-of-war on the second Sunday of every month. I have learnt a lot on the Lalbagh walks, but since I am generally committed to the 3rd and 4th Sunday walks, I do like to go to other birding spots with my friends. Well, on the 13th of January, the tug was decided by the fact that the Asian Waterfowl Census, or AWC ) is on, and we could contribute data and pretend to be very scientific, while following the experts around and getting to see a lot of birds! So off we went to Hoskote kere, after MCS (Mandatory Chai Stop) on the way.

IMG_2917
MCS, ITI Bus Stop. Note Vidhya's gloves!

The group was not as large as I'd expected, but this lack of numbers was more than made up for, by the number of species sighted! I am not one for numbers, but definitely, between waterfowl, winter migrants, and woodland birds, we were able to sight, and observe the behaviour of, several species of birds.

We carefully turned into the toll-avoiding opening and proceeded down the bund of the lake. We opened our account with a White-throated Kingfisher and a Common Hawk-cuckoo sitting on the wire, out in the open.

IMG_2920

The fog had lifted by the time we got to the temple, and the first pale rays of sunshine showed several Spot-billed Pelicans,

IMG_2993



Painted Storks,

IMG_2952

Cormorants and Grebes on the waters.

There were two scopes on hand, and this certainly helped many of my friends, who are still new to birding, to do some Spotting of their own, apart from the bills of the pelicans and the ducks! A Pied Kingfisher hovered over the water and dove in now and then, looking for a quick breakfast.

The "spotting" extended to the far side, the scope enabled us to look at a Greater Spotted Eagle, as well as three Marsh Harriers. perched on the bare trees, and occasionally sweeping over the water, alarming all the other birds. It was delightful to see a Common Kingfisher and a Wagtail apparently enjoying a boat ride. We don't often see birds boating!

IMG_2965

On the far side, thanks to the scope, the indistinct blobs resolved themselves into Garganeys, Shovellers, and Pintails too.

IMG_3080
Capparis flowers (Caper)

We walked down to the path into the lake from the Gangamma temple,

IMG_3073
Gangamma, the deity at the lake.

and Grey and Purple Herons, pods of pelicans fishing, Yellow Wagtails

IMG_3007

living up to their name with their bobbing tails, two Wood Sandpipers having a face-off (territory? food? We didn't know),

IMG_3000

some Common Sandpipers flying with their white rumps showing. A Glossy Ibis gleamed in coppery sheen in the now strong morning sunlight,

IMG_2988

and we were able to make out the difference between Streak-throated, Barn, and Red-rumped Swallows in a birding id practical lesson.

IMG_2942
Streak-throated (L) and Barn (R) Swallows.

A Sand Martin (Common, Krishna Murthy told us) also put in an appearance. Another good comaprison study was of the three Egrets...
Little, Intermediate, and Great...It was like watching the Grimmskipp page come alive! It was lovely to see the Swallows making musical scores on the wire. I believe someone did, once, set the swallows-on-the-wire to music!

We brought out our snacks and biscuits, and stoked up enough calories to let us carry on well past the usual breakfast hour.

We then walked back up the road, doing the other part of the lake adjoining the path, and were rewarded by the sight of both the Grey-bellied Cuckoo

IMG_3043

and the hepatic morph, which is generally female.

IMG_3027

I looked at a non-singing Jerdon's Bushlark, and a Common Hoopoe (no longer common, either) A (probable) Booted Eagle gave us a fly-past finale.

IMG_3032
Bee covered with pollen, on Ipomoea flowers

Not having realized just how much time had gone by, we decided to go to Sendhoor Cafe in Ulsoor, and our greed was rewarded by the fact that it was noon when we reached there, and everything was sold out! We should just have eaten at one of the two darshinis at the lake! Well, we managed to eat at the Second Choice Darshini (Kadamba, opposite Frank Anthony School) and went home, very happy with our productive morning.

IMG_3074
Utsava murthy of Gangamma.



The eBird list, a very impressive one, put up kindly by Praveen, is at

https://ebird.org/india/view/checklist/S51618715

I've put up photos on an FB album at

https://www.facebook.com/deemopahan/media_set?set=a.10156336753578878&type=3

And on a Flickr album at

https://www.flickr.com/photos/86494503@N00/albums/72157705791476234

You can see I really concentrated on the bird count this time as there are just a couple of wildflowers and one spider in the album..and no butterflies at all!

IMG_3078
Most of the participants, at the end of the census.

It's Monday and I am already looking forward to the next weekend!

The fabric of time....
wave
deponti
Another year comes to an end.
My daily calendar has just a few pages left
That, like leaves on an autumn tree,
Will fall, and be consigned
To the past, and to memory.
It is we who mark the flowing fabric of Time
With patterns that we call days, months, years.
One such pattern is being completed
On the loom of Eternity.
Under these patterns, these motifs
Runs the lasting warp and weft
Of Time itself...moving smoothly, inexorably
One cannot predict how the patterns
Soon to come, will be shaped.
What colours will they carry?
The red of bloodshed? The white of peace?
The yellow of illness? The blue of sadness?
We do not know...
We flow on, too,
Along with the fabric of Time.

Kaikondrahalli Kere: 4th Sunday outing of Bngbirds, 231218
wave
deponti
Email to Bngbirds:

Where is the winter in Bangalore? Alas.... it seems to last only until the sun gathers power in the mornings! But in spite of the rather strong sunshine, several of us had a very enjoyable morning at Kaikondrahalli (or Kaikondanahalli...it's spelt both ways at the lake!) on the 4th Sunday outing, on 23rd Dec, 2018.

IMG_1847
KrishnaVirat, Chandu, Shubha, Subramanyam,Tarachand, Imtiaz, Mamta, Gopinath, Jagan, Rakshith, Mandar (with Srushti), Kalyani. Kaikondrahalli kere, 231218. Sushmitha and Shankar joined us later.

More if you like to see itCollapse )

Here's a short video of a Cormorant drying its wings while still swimming!



This was the last Bngbirds walk for 2018, and I take the opportunity of wishing everyone a very merry Christmas if they celebrate it, or a happy holiday if they don't...and all the best for a prosperous 2019!

Cheers, Deepa.

Why I like FaceBook
wave
deponti
Here I dip into someone's thought.
There I see what someone's bought.
I admire someone's photograph.
I wish someone would cut their rant in half.
Read someone's movie review.
Muse on someone's political hue.
I tarry over someone's art;
Someone's music, that is a class apart.
Satisfied, I go to bed.
My friends...you fill up most of my head!
I'll be back again tomorrow.
To check on you, in smiles or sorrow.
A lovely way to look and see
What's up with you.... on FB!

Kidoor Bird Fest, 10 and 11 Nov, 2018
wave
deponti
Birds know no borders; the ones that we go to see in Karnataka fly off and can be seen once we cross over into Kerala!

So when the birders of Kasargod announced the second Kidoor Bird Fest, to celebrate both the first sighting of the

Orange-breasted Green Pigeon
obgp by by Sarala Jeevanthi Gamage
Photo credit: Sarala Jeevanthi Gamage

and the birthday of

Dr Salim Ali, the noted ornithologist,

it was clear that this would be a productive birding weekend.

The participants and the organizers.
IMG_0845

The festival was a bigger event than it was in 2017, because this time, birders from all over Karnataka and Kerala attended. 65+ birders made a strong show at the fest, which was held in the hamlet of Kuntangeradka, in Kidoor.

Kidoor Post Office sign.
IMG_0443

The festival began with everyone gathering and registering.
,IMG_0452

Beautiful palm-frond birds adorning the hall.
IMG_0460

Raju Kidoor
IMG_0512

and the entire team, including Maxim and Lavina
IMG_0467

worked very hard to make the event a success.

The birders of Kasargod, and some from Mangalore, brought the following local luminaries on the dais: Sri Pundarikaksha K L, President, and Smt Aruna Manjunatha Alva, Ward Member, both from the Grama Panchayath, Kumbla; Sri Biju P, ACF, and Sri Sunil Kumar, SFO, Social Forestry Division, Kasargod; Sri Chikkayya Rai,a practitioner of traditional herbal medicine; and Sri Radhakrishna, an eco-friendly businessman of Kidoor who eschewed plastic.

Dignitaries on podium:
IMG_0472

Sri Pundarikaksha inaugurated the event, and the dignitaries from the Social Forestry Division spoke about the valuable sighting of the Orange-breasted Green Pigeon in Kidoor, on 10th Nov 2016, and the decision to celebrate the birthday of Dr Salim Ali, noted ornithologist, on 11th November as well. Kidoor has proved a birding hotspot, with sightings of several birds endemic to the Western Ghats.

Sri Chikkaya Rai, Sri Radhakrishna, and Chi. Praveen (a young student who has spearheaded several ecological initiatives in his school) were felicitated.
IMG_0470

The local birders took the visitors for an evening walk in the nearby laterite/grassland area.

Sunlight on the grasses.
IMG_0522

and a pond that they are protecting for the birds.
IMG_0510

Participants on the evening walk.
IMG_0527

Children at the evening walk.
IMG_0588

They organized a cultural program, with many people, including these ladies who sang folk songs, taking part.
IMG_0604

Untiringly, they also conducted a night walk along the village roads.

Lavina, a doctoral student, explains about pond life on the night walk.
IMG_0624

Next morning,in the dawn light, they took the visitors on a morning walk, along a scenic trail.
IMG_0763

Apart from many endemic birds , several trees also endemic to the Western Ghats, butterflies, wildflowers, insects and other creatures were sighted (see photos below). The ladies were put up in the homes of the local residents, who were very hospitable.

The family who put up visitors at Kasargod, when they alighted from the overnight bus, on their way to Kidoor
IMG_0348

The family who put up the ladies at Kidoor
IMG_0851
Photo credit: Padma Ramaswamy

One of the impressive features of the fest was that not only was it conducted on a tight budget, but there was no sense of heirarchy amongst the organizers. Every one pitched in to do whatever tasks were required, whether it was setting up a screen, serving the food, or arranging the chairs in the hall. It made for a very homely, pleasant atmosphere, and the visitors also were able to do their bit. Another great feature was that no plastic was used in the course of the meals; each person washed the stainless steel plate, glass or cup that s/he used.

The meals were traditional and were delicious.

Breakfast of iddlis, sambhar and chai.
IMG_0827

Lunch in traditional vessels.
IMG_0602

After breakfast, the gathering settled down to watch some presentations on Odonates (Dragonflies and Damselflies), and Butterflies.
Murali's presentation on butterflies:
IMG_0829

After this the participants were treated to lunch at the Gram Panchayat President's home.
IMG_0854>

Plantain leaf lunch.
IMG_0855

Full of the wonderful sightings they had enjoyed, and the new friendships they had formed, the birders dispersed.

The District Collector, Dr Sajith Babu, participated enthusiastically in the Fest.

IMG_0584

He promised to spare the laterite/grassland from human-centric "development". This makes it possible that from next year, the Kidoor Bird Fest will become a larger, well-sponsored event, attracting birders from further afield.

Participants at the end of the fest:
IMG_0845

Birds and other living beings observed during the event:

Yellow-wattled Lapwing.
IMG_0448

Yellow-footed Green Pigeon.
IMG_0481

Malabar Lark.
IMG_0566

Flame-throated Bulbul.
IMG_0692

Brown-capped Pygmy Woodpecker.
IMG_0691

Nilgiri Flowerpecker:
IMG_0791

Yellow-browed Bulbul.
IMG_0678

Grey-necked Bunting.
IMG_0819

Chestnut-headed and Blyth's Starlings:
IMG_0728IMG_0705

Curved flower or Woody Chassilia.
IMG_0769

Porcupine quill found on the ground.
IMG_0772

Blue Tiger Moth.
IMG_0759

Memecylon flowers.
IMG_0755

Nag Kuda Tree (Tabernaemontana alternifolia).
IMG_0674

Beautiful grass.
IMG_0784

Beauty of the laterite rock.
IMG_0806

Common Sailer.
IMG_0794

Weaver Ants.
IMG_0795

Red Pierrot.
IMG_0799

All photographs by the author, unless otherwise credited.