I hope all of you are observing the Covid protocols and keeping good health! After writing about Pearl Valley, I am afraid I got a bit caught up in voluntary work of the less happy kind, but today, I found time to start writing again.
One of the lakes I have loved visiting, over the years, is Muthanallur Kere (Lake).
Indian Roller, the State bird of Karnataka
It's a very large lake, in the Bommasandra area:
Try as I might, I am not able to get any information on the net about the lake's size,the depth of the water, where the inlets and outlets are or any other allied information.
Balloon Vine, Cardiospermum sp.
In earlier days, we used to meet at this spot
and then walk along the bund of the lake. But over time, we found that this side was getting filled with water hyacinth, and we could hardly find any birds, so we started near the pig-farm (lately, that too, had been vacated, and we had to bear neither the stench or the snorts of the porcine occupants!) at this spot
then proceed to the bund of the lake and walk along it, going both left and right, as far as we could, and then sidetracking into the fields and the coconut and eucalyptus groves, the mango and chikku orchards too. We have walked over dry-as-a-bone paths, clomped our way through muddy slush in the monsoons, seen the lake water-level recede and recover....there has not been a season in which we have found the lake less than interesting.
Wolf or Funnel Web Spider
One of the most beautiful landmarks of the lake is the magnificient Mahua (Madhuca longifolia) tree, that seems to be several decades old, if not actually a centenarian. Next to this, a few years ago, a Devi temple was built by the residents of Muthananallur. This has made a good spot for our groups to pause on our return, and share our snacks, images and observations.
The dead trees along the shore of the lake are, increasingly, a roosting spot for all kinds of waterfowl,of which the three kinds of Cormorants (Little, Indian, and Great), the Darters, and the Brahminy and Black Kites are the most frequent (I wish I had a rupee for every time I have confused a juvenile Black Kite and a Booted Eagle....I would be rich!) Starlings, and several kinds of Bee-eaters and Flycatchers can be seen as one walks along the bund. The occasional Hornbill (I have only seen the Indian Grey here so far), or a Spotted Owlet, makes an interesting moment too.
The lake has been a popular spot for both Deepak Jois and myself to take the third and fourth Sunday Bngbirds open-to-all outings. Lakes themselves are great for birds because one can get both the woodland birds as well as the waterfowl. And once in a while, Muthanallur gives birders quite a surprise! I can remember Thomas, Srini, Ajit and Kumar's elation when they spotted a Peregrine (or Shaheen) Falcon once, and a Black Baza on another occasion!
In the winter, of course, the lake and its bund, and the surrounding fields and bushes, yield a lot of the visitors that enrich our land by flying in from far away: the Booted Eagles (Muthanallur is particularly noted for these...on one memorable outing last year,which was the first "Covid-Careful Outing, we sighted seven of them, one after another!), the many kinds of Warblers....there was the time when several of us walked into the fields past the Eucalyptus grove, and there were the unexpected surprises...several Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters, which held us in thrall for quite a while, as they preened, and flew about, catching their breakfast.
But if you thought birds were all that the lake provides visitors, you are mistaken! A wide variety of wildflowers, interesting shrubs, climbers and trees reward those of us who are interested in these living beings. Reptiles, from the common Rock Agamas and Garden Lizards, to the rat snakes and the once-in-a-while-don't-point-it-out-to-everyone cobra, all slithering off at top speed to avoid humans; butterflies of various shapes, colours and sizes, from the large Blue Mormon to the tiny Grass Jewel (held to be the smallest butterfly in India). Insects of various kinds; handsome six-footers whom we all like to see (from a respectable distance, of course)! And, if we add a couple of legs, several species of spiders too, from the Lynx and Crab Spiders which may not weave webs, to the huge Wood Spiders whose silk can even entrap small birds.
Here's the eBird collation of the birds found in and around the lake:
(218 species observed from 560 checklists.)
I have 14 albums from Muthanallur kere:
I wonder how many times I went without a camera, too, when I depended on my friends' DSLRs!
The ancient Mahua tree and the Devi temple
Well, when this Covid leaves us, as one day it surely will, I will revive the group outings and I hope to see some of you at Muthanallur kere, enjoying the sights and sounds as much as I do!