Apparently a lot of others agreed with me, so quite a large number of people gathered in front of the Glass House as Srinivas, patient as ever, began the walk. It was very nice to see several children and college students also in the group.
One of the big pluses of the Bngbirds 2nd Sunday Lalbagh walk is the presence of several very experienced ornithologists and naturalists (none of whom will agree that they are experts; they feel they are all still on the learning path!). Each of them is also generous in sharing their knowledge, so one winds up learning a lot about the natural world. So I would call the 2nd Sunday walks, Lessons in Lalbagh, of the most interesting kind!
Subbu pointed out the two kinds of Kites...Black and Brahminy...flying overhead, and sketched the difference in the shape of their tails. As we moved forward towards the Japanese (still spelt "Japanees" on the signboard!) garden and the huge Peepal tree, Prasad talked about the two common kinds of Barbets...and the nestling of the White-cheeked Barbet peeped out, delightfully, from its nest hole in the Peepal tree, looking at us with as much interest as we did at it. We learnt that the gape (the edges of the mouth) of the nestling would be black, prompting the parents to feed it.
Sunbirds and Flowerpeckers flitted about in the giant Bauhinia creeper, and Srinivas gave us some more intriguing knowledge...he pointed out the spectacular flowers of the Poison Arrow plant. Just like the better-known curare that south American tribes tip their arrows with, they also use the stropanthin from these flowers. He also told us how only one particular hummingbird can pollinate the plant.
There is not a single walk in Lalbagh with Srinivas where one will not learn something new and fascinating! Many of us have his booklet on the garden climbers of our city, and he never fails to point out other trees and plants,reeling off polysyllabic binomials with great ease and familiarity, while I struggle to remember them.
Cinereous Tits nesting in light poles, a White-throated Kingfisher flying by in a flash of electric blue, and Koels calling as they flew past, ruby-eyed and black as jet...These kept us occupied as we walked.
Near the MMT (Majestic Mango Tree!). the resident Spotted Owlet sat calmly, watching our antics as we juggled with cameras and binoculars. Meanwhile, some of us also learnt about other plants such as the Gardenia species nearby.
Being a large group, we sort of straggled apart; with some of us following Srinivas, some (especially the college students and researchers) going with MBK, who always entertains as he teaches, and some of us with Prasad. But we met up again at the lake, where a lot of waterfowl met our eyes. Little and Great Cormorants, quarrelsome Purple Swamphens, several Pond Herons looking for breakfast along the edges, a few Spot-billed Pelicans flying in formation, worthy of our Air Force...we took in all these sights, clucking over a dead Checkered Keelback (I call it an Ex-Checker!). At the ex-lotus pond (which has been cleared of all the lotus plants and now has a floating island of Canna flowers, which is not as lovely, I think!) we found a couple of Common Moorhens, black with red beaks, and some Flap-shelled Turtles sunning themselves, slick and wet from the water. As we slowly dispersed, I took some people to see the family of owlets that lives near the bamboo, and three of them sat in the Acacia tree and looked down at us, winking sleepily after their night of hunting activity.
It being butterfly season, we also spotted several butterflies, including the migrating Crows and Blue Tigers; each butterfly adds a spot of colour and interest to the walk. My nature guru, Karthik, who was responsible for introducing butterfly watching to Bangalore birders, is someone I remember with gratitude each time I see these beauties
Since we had all parked and entered from different gates, some of us who used the Siddapura gate went for breakfast and decided to try the newly-opened Puliyogare Point at the Madhavan Park junction. How was the food? Ah, that would be a restaurant review, which I must do separately!
The eBird list, compiled by Srushti (7 years old) is at
I have put up my photos on an FB album at
and on a Flickr album at
(Yes, you can see the Poison Arrow flower!)
Looking forward to meeting some of you again next weekend.