deponti (deponti) wrote,

The Nokia trip to the Shivanahalli Ramakrishna Ashram, 240710

Just when I had decided to take Sunday very easy (always a fatal thing to do!) Chandu called me up with a too-good-to-be-true plan... two busloads of volunteers from Nokia were going to the Ramakrishna Ashram at Shivanahalli, to do some tree-planting (well, sapling planting!) there. And before that, Chinmayi, one of Chandu's friends, wanted a group of volunteers to introduce the group to birdwatching.

Imagine, me talking to people who actually believe I knew something more than they did! The temptation to perpetrate this fraud was too strong, and I agreed.

Here we are:

krupakar chinmayi prasad swamiji shreeram abhilash 240710

Krupakar, Chinmayi, Prasad, who is very active in supporting the Ashram activities, Swamiji, Shreeram, and Abhilash, a youngster I found very keen on both birding and astronomy:

The Swamiji of the Ramakrishna Ashram is a most unusual person. He always prefers giving the children hands-on exposure to class-room lessons, and is always very supportive when we go to take the children out. He has also been taking a lot of care to forest the 37 or so acres on which the Ashram stands, and the planting was part of this effort.

Here are some of the Nokia volunteers (many turned up with all their families) as we walked across the Ashram campus, on the sheet rock that is one of the most ancient exposed rock on the face of Earth:

some of the Nokia volunteers 240710

However, the weather was so overcast that I realized it would be better to convert the walk into a nature trail, rather than a birding trail, so I talked about whatever I knew as we walked....and it was not difficult to repeat the several things I have heard from the experts.

Here's an un-id wildflower:

un id wildflower

and an un-id creeper, too, on the rock, with beautiful double fruits:

un id creeper on rocks

The Ashram has plentiful plantations of coffee and, here,



cocoa? 240710

There was even a tree with


star fruit tree 240710 ashram

We went to the pond area, but could not see much except a White-breasted Kingfisher, but in the small well, we saw two of these beautiful


checkered keelback well 240710

staring up at us unwinkingly as they awaited an unwary breakfast!

We came back from the walk via the Ayyappa Temple:

ayyappa temple shivanahalli 240710

The only bird that I really photographed was the common but so-beautiful


red-vented bulbul 240710

the MOSS made lovely green, soft patches all over:

moss 240710

the mushrooms were, er, mushrooming all over!

mushrooms 240710

Shreeram told us how the large snails we saw were from East Africa, and were now pests that were destroying the crops.

An insect that is useful and not a pest is this beautiful


ladybird 240710

We finished our walk, and were treated to a wonderful, hot breakfast back at the Ashram:

breakfast at the Ashram 240710

Ah, the kesari bhAth and the uppittu were piping hot and so welcome!

Here I am, with Meghna, whom I found very knowledgeable, and great company, too! (Thanks for the photo, Shreeram!)

dm and meghna bhise 240710 shivanahalli

Shreeram, Krupakar, Chinmayi and I left the Ashram, thinking that it was the end of our morning...but OUR adventure was just beginning! Almost immediately, we found that the road back to the Jigani road was completely blocked by a tractor with its axle broken. People were gathering around contentedly, and some film music was also playing...sure indications that the road was not about to get cleared in a hurry.

So we decided to explore another route back to Kaggalipura, and it was rally driving at its rural best, as we bumped and lurched over a succession of what seemed like a combination of the Andes, the Rockies and the Vindhyas....

It was most impressive that Chinmayi and her mother seemed quite far ahead of us...we were speculating on what speeds they might maintain when we got to the main road, when alas! their car, negotiating a particularly tricky and muddy corner around a field, got stuck.

Helpful villagers immediately appeared, and there was one particular Director of Operations who succinctly told us all that we had done wrong, and also expertly supervised rescue operations!

Here's Chinmayi's car,over a tough patch, with Krupakar's car negotiating the same patch gingerly...

car in the mud 240710

We arrived on the main road after having thanked the villagers...and though it was late, didn't want to go home without visiting the Ragihalli pond! So off we went, and the first sight was this fluorescent


in the mud:

colourful fly ragihalli kere 240710

We wanted to see the


that the others had seen before in the ruined temple; and they did not disappoint us!

We first found where at least one was sitting, by seeing its droppings:

240710 owlet droppings

here are three views of two of the birds; they were very alert, and moved from one tree to the next to try and avoid us!

ragihalli spotted owlet 1

spotted owlet 2 240710 ragihalli pond

owlet 3 240710

Shreeram has also seen an Eurasian Eagle Owl at the same area, so he waited for a while to see if it would show up:

shreeram with camera ragihalli 240710

...but alas, it didn't, and we decided that we'd better head home before we got divorced by our respective spouses! But meanwhile, the sight of the blooming white lotuses was wonderful, and I took a short video of the pond in all its glory:

No flower is quite as beautiful as the white totally pure in the midst of stagnant water:

lotus full bloom 240710

I must thank Chandu, Chinmayi, and Nokia for a most enjoyable and adventurous morning!
Tags: bangalore, bannerghatta, birding, forest, insects, karnataka, lotus, owl, photography, video, volunteers, weekend

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