This weekend, amoghavarsha and Sanath swanned off to Bhadra again...they took the last 2 seats on some bus and were going to do a concrete-floor-and-sleeping-bag accomodation which I can't do! So I was hoping that Kalyan would go to BR Hills...my husband said that if kalyan was there, it would be a great learning experience for both of us, on both the photography and the wildlife fronts, so he was willing to drive to BR Hills. Alas for Ms Murphy...Kalyan sprained his leg and could not go. (only I would call *myself* Ms Murphy when *Kalyan* sprained his leg!...but to me, it meant, no BR Hills with the expert guidance that I had been looking forward to....
So this morning, we determinedly set aside the Sunday morning inertia, and went to LalBagh.
We took care to be there by 7.15 am so that the regular birders, none of whom I knew, would not go off without us. (Without experienced birders to help, I am likely to see only mynahs, pariah kites, and crows.) We were very early....the birders arrived after M B Krishna who himself arrived past 7.45....but there was a very good live Carnatic flute concert in progress at the bandstand, which both of us enjoyed very much. Chirdeep Shetty joined us soon after we arrived. Sainath had wanted to come, but he had to go out of town.
The funny thing was that as each person arrived, it transpired that except for Khusro and a couple of others, ALL of us were first timers! So the ulimate group was about 22 people out of which only Krishna, Khusro and a few others were regular Bng_bird birders. Krishna gave us a short introduction and got us to spot a few birds. The first few birds we spotted were, of course, the small green barbet and the rose-ringed parakeet, and a koel which made its presence felt long before we saw it. There was a pariah kite which was bringing nesting material to the huge peepul tree above us.
While we were hoping to spot a few more birds, Krishna proved to be a mine of information on trees, too...which is my interest! He even spoke of creepers whose flowers smelt, respectively, of vanilla...and of garlic! He pointed out the cirro-cumulus clouds above us and gave us interesting facts on how to estimate the height of clouds. While the others spotted a shikra high above, I took the opportunity of finding out the names of a few more trees that I was curious about.
The shikra above us banked and swooped and was clearly having fun in the skies. We also saw some palm swifts, a smaller coucal, and Khusro pointed out a bluish wasp which was going in and out of a hole in the bark of a tree...so we watched that for a while.
The bird sightings seemed rather sparse to me, compared with the torrent of sightings I had had during the nature trails in Bannerghatta National Park....so I spotted a tree of the ebony family, a mahogany tree, and Krishna pointed out the podocarpus, which is a conifer dating back to the age of the dinosaurs! He also showed us how small bamboo plants could be also used as a hedge...Khusro said he had a creeper bamboo in his home!
We did hear the calls of a tailor bird and an Oriental white eye which some people said they spotted, but it certainly eluded MY white eye! A brahminy kite soared overhead ( we have even assigned castes to our birds too, calling them Pariah and Brahminy!), and by then we were a the overflow area of the Lalbagh lake, where we watched some cormorants having brunch in the water. Krishna took us over to the lake, where Khusro said he could see some large cormorants and some ducks...with some one challenging this statement, saying that what he was seeing was plastic bags! Of course I wouldn't want to get into THAT argument with my level of expertise! I peeped into my Salim Ali, nodded at the shoveller's picture which someone else said was what the ducks were!
We broke up at this point, and Mohan and I sat on for a few minutes, enjoying the general peace and greenery...and then we went off to look at an old house(in the art deco idiom of the forties, if anyone is architecturally interested) which we have been eyeing mainly because it is so close to Lal Bagh, on M N Rao Road. It's a beautiful house, but I wonder how much of maintainance it would take....the lady who lives there right now says she never goes to Lal Bagh, which is about 100 yards away, because she is busy supervising the servants! This seems such a tragedy to me....
We then went on to our other activity, viz. breakfast, at a Darshini nearby, and drove home, having enjoyed a great morning, however scanty the bird-spotting might have been!
We are off to Binsar National Park, Munsiyari and Corbett in Uttaranchal for 2 weeks on Wednesday, and we are looking forward very much to seeing what we can spot there. I don't know who my guide will be in Binsar, but through Abhijit Menon-Sen who has just finished a census of Quails and Partridges in Uttaranchal, I have emailed Manoj Sharma, who will be my wildlife/birding guide in Corbett. Will post, hopefully, with lots of interesting sighting-stories, when I get back....