Tag Archive: karnataka

World Environment Day, 050614

Does it move?
Kill it!
Does it sting?
Squash it!
Does it grow?
Cut it down!
Done with it?
Throw it out of your window!
Need to go somewhere?
Take the car!
Have some money?
Consume more!


Then, have plastic posters printed, saying, “World Environment Day”, with the photos of prominent pols, put it up in a public place, and feel happy that a praiseworthy effort has been taken.


Rosita called and invite me to go with her and Mark to his yoga teacher, Rama’s farmhouse in Bannerghatta, and I immediately said yes.

It was a quick visit, but it was so pleasant and enjoyable. The farmhouse is situated right behind that of Fred and Clare Pais..and I had a wonderful time looking at two feet (and a huge beak) (Loten’s Sunbird)



The beak amongst the blooms:


Six feet:


Six very tiny feet with a very business-like sting:


Tiny jasmine:


Two feet that have difficulty, yet go everywhere:


A place for feet to pass:


A beautiful place for feet to tread:


Here are Mark and Rosita, four feet, posing happily for me:


Other photos from the visit, click on my FB album


Great company, the great outdoors…a great pleasure, indeed!

As we went around the grassland landscape during the Volunteer Training Program, Kiran spotted this large Scorpion, and I took a short video of it as we slowly passed in our vehicle. The creature was on the banked slope of the hill, and it was both rainy and late evening.

I am not sure if this is the Emperor Scorpion, which is the largest of scorpions, but not the longest. The emperor scorpion (Pandinus imperator) has a dark body ranging from dark blue/green through brown to black. The large pincers are blackish-red and have a granular texture. The front part of the body, or prosoma, is made up of four sections, each with a pair of legs. Behind the fourth pair of legs are comb-like structures known as pectines – these are longer in males and can be used by man to distinguish the sexes. The tail, known as the metasoma, is long and curves back over the body. It ends in the large receptacle.

Well…it certainly was a sight to see, in the misty, rainy dusk on the grasslands of Kudremukh!

You can click


for the photos of the first day from the VTP, which was held at the Bhagavathi Nature Camp, about 20 km from Kalasa, Karnataka.

In several years of visiting the Valley School area, I’ve passed this abandoned house so many times…but it was only yesterday, when we did “waiting” birding instead of “walking” birding, and when Mark went into the house to explore, that I also decided to walk around and in it.


I do not know for whom this house was built. It seems a roomy, spacious house. The rooms seem to be of gracious proportions. The arches outside the house look lovely:


In fact, with the date palms they give a slightly Islamic look:


Were these sheds, next to the huge banyan tree, meant as outhouses? They also lie abandoned:


I googled for information, but there is nothing about it. the best guess I can make is that this was built, like the earlier (and now demolished) Art Village, on property that belonged to the Karnataka Forest Department, and was therefore abandoned.


The windows gape open, with a ghostly look.


And yet, after all these years, the house looks quite inviting:


But the only residents there today are the various insects and rodents, and the nests of the swifts in the eaves of the roof. Oh, abandoned house…what is your history? With what hopes and aspirations were you built, and with what frustrations and sorrow were you left, with the construction nearing completion, to deteriorate on your own….with such good quality of construction that today, many years later, many of the panes of glass in your windows are unbroken, and the whole aspect is not that of a ruin? What a mystery!

The Hoopoe, Valley School, 110514



was called the “Common Hoopoe”, but alas, it is no longer that common a bird. However, we are lucky enough to be able to see them once in a while, in the outskirts of Bangalore. This morning, as 15 of us went to see what we could in the Valley School area, this beautiful bird was the last sighting before we left…a fitting finale to a very enjoyable morning.


The scientific name of the bird(Upupa epops), like the English name is an onomatopoeic form which imitates the cry of the bird.

This colourful bird is found across Afro-Eurasia,, and the Madagascar subspecies of the Hoopoe is sometimes elevated to a full species.


The call is typically a trisyllabic oop-oop-oop, which gives rise to its English and scientific names, although two and four syllables are also common.


Most European and north Asian birds migrate to the tropics in winter. The African populations are sedentary year-round.


The Hoopoe has two basic requirements in its habitat; bare or lightly vegetated ground on which to forage and vertical surfaces with cavities (such as trees, cliffs or even walls, nestboxes, haystacks, and abandoned burrows) in which to nest.


The diet of the Hoopoe is mostly composed of insects, although small reptiles, frogs and plant matter such as seeds and berries are sometimes taken as well. It is a solitary forager which typically feeds on the ground.


The diet of the Hoopoe includes many species considered to be pests by humans; for example the pupae of the processionary moth, a damaging forest pest.

Hoopoes are distinctive birds and have made a cultural impact over much of their range. They were considered sacred in Ancient Egypt, so they were “depicted on the walls of tombs and temples”. They achieved a similar standing in Minoan Crete. Theywere seen as a symbol of virtue in Persia. They were thought of as thieves across much of Europe and harbingers of war in Scandinavia. Also, in Estonian tradition the Hoopoes are strongly connected with death and the underworld, their song is seen as a forebode of death for many a people or cattle.The Hoopoe is the king of the birds in the Ancient Greek comedy The Birds by Aristophanes.

…and….The Hoopoe was chosen as the national bird of Israel in May 2008!

When we found that this bird, which has lived amongst humans for so long, was not at all disturbed by our presence, we slowly, and carefully, fanned around it, without disturbing its foraging behaviour. I took this video to show how, sometimes, a group can photograph a bird from fairly close range, without alarming or disturbing it.

We bade goodbye as as it walked along peacefully in the sunshine:


A little later, off it flew…and we walked on with great satisfaction at having seen, and observed, this bird for a good while!

click here

for my FB album

When we went to meet Gundappa Master, at Tumkur, he told us that a


had also been rescued from a villager’s house. The villager was very scared and worried that it was a venomous snake, and wanted to kill it, so it was taken away for release in the forest.

We only witnessed the release; we did not want to touch the snake as it was already rather distressed.

Gundappa Master opens the bag, after we reached the interior of the Devarayana Durga State Forest, well away from the road:


He puts it on a tree:


While giving the snake a little time to calm down, we take our shots:


Long, slender, smooth-scales.
Head distinctly broader than neck; snout bluntly rounded.
Large eyes have round pupils.
Tail very long, thin and wire-like.
This species has a dark blue tongue.

The snake’s blue eyes mean that it is at the beginning of ecdysis…the process of shedding its old skin. At this time, the reptile’s vision is not good, and it would like to be undisturbed.


Diurnal. Arboreal; inhabits low bushes, thorn trees, indian date palms, and palmyra.
Feeds on frogs, garden lizards, geckos and small birds, even entering thatched houses to feed.
Extremely fast.
Notched sharply defined edges of belly scales help it climb.
Females lay 6-8 long, thin eggs in tree holes and rotting vegetation.
Nervous disposition, if cornered, some will strike repeatedly while expanding forebody to show light blue/white color at lower edge of each scale.

The blue scales showing on the back also show that it is distressed.





In this shot, the blue scales on the back (that only show when the snake is in distress) are not showing. The snake is definitely calmer.


Here we are, photographing it while it collects itself:


The snake then quickly drops to the ground, once again showing the blue scales of distress:


The snake then slithers off over the rocks, and is gone.


Both Gundappa Master, and we (Chandu, Gopal, Yash and I) hope our release is a successful one and that this beautiful, non-venomous snake has a long life….

Thomas Job and his friend Sushil Nahar, who was coming on a birding trail for the first time, picked me up, and off we went, to Valley School.


Several of us walked down the trail together:


Even at the height of summer, birding is an enjoyable actitivy in the early morning!


The path led through this beautiful



Here’s the tree from a distance:


Another banyan tree which we usually go past:


A peaceful scene of cattle grazing under its shade:




is in full bloom everywhere:


Falling around on the plants, the petals look so beautiful:


I loved the sight of this




In the ruined Art Village, I found this pottery figure, representing Ganesha on one side and Nandi on the other:


The birds included:





INDIAN PITTA (we saw three of them!)


WHITE-RUMPED SHAMA (which the mobile phone of one birder had turned to Shame)


There were butterflies, too, like this



We enjoyed the morning, and the brefus at Udupi Banashree, very much indeed!

click here

for my FB album.

The bird list:

Babbler, Jungle
Babbler, Puff-throated
Babbler, Yellow-billed
Barbet, Coppersmith
Bee-eater, Small Green
Bulbul, Red-vented
Bulbul, Red-whiskered
Bushchat, Pied
Coucal, Southern
Crow, House
Crow, Jungle
Cuckooshrike, Black-headed
Egret, Little
Flameback, Black-rumped
Flowerpecker, Pale-billed
Flycatcher, Asian Paradise (heard)
Flycatcher, Tickell’s Blue
Flycatcher, White-throated Fantail
Francolin, Grey (heard)
Heron, Indian Pond
Honey-buzzard, Oriental
Junglefowl, Grey (heard)
Kingfisher, White-throated
Kite, Black
Kite, Brahminy
Koel, Asian
Lapwing, Red-wattled
Leafbird, Jerdon’s
Malkoha, Blue-faced
Malkoha, Sirkeer
Minivet, Small
Myna, Common
Myna, Jungle
Parakeet, Rose-ringed
Peafowl, Indian (heard)
Pigeon, Blue Rock
Pitta, Indian
Prinia, Ashy
Prinia, Grey-breasted
Robin, Indian
Robin, Oriental Magpie
Shama, White-rumped
Sunbird, Purple-rumped
Swift, Little
Tailorbird, Common
Tit, Great (Cinerous)
White-eye, Oriental

Don’t you agree, this is a dream list, especially for the first week of May?

I’ve been lucky enough to spot the



at several places in Karnataka: the campus of the Indian Institute of Science, the Ramakrishna Mission Ashram at Shivanahalli, and at Nagavalli village, in Tumkur District.

Yesterday, we got a call from

B V Gundappa ,

affectionately called “Gundappa Sir” or “Gundappa Master” (he teaches in Nagavalli village), who has been caring for these shy, elusive creatures, and raising local awareness about them, so that they are not poached or killed.

Here are some facts about Slender Lorises, which are called “thEvAngu” in Tamizh, and “kAdupApA” (baby of the forest) in Kannada, from the wiki:

The gray slender loris (Loris lydekkerianus) is a species of primate in the family Loridae. It is found in India and Sri Lanka. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forests and subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests. It is threatened by habitat loss.


Despite the slew of studies on their behaviour and ecology in the last decade, they still remain among the least known of all primate species] Like other lorises, they are nocturnal and emerge from their roost cavities only at dusk.

They are mainly insectivorous. In southern India, the nominate race is often found in acacia and tamarind dominated forests or scrubs near cultivations. Males hold larger home ranges than females. They are usually solitary while foraging, and it is rare for them to be seen in pairs or groups. However they may roost in groups of up to 7, that include young of the recent and older litters. Adult males and females have individual home ranges and sleeping group associations are usually composed of a female and her offspring. They communicate with a range of vocalizations and also use urine and scent marking.

Although considered a Least Concern on the IUCN Red List and classified under Schedule I (Part 1) of the Indian Wildlife Act, 1972, the threat to these primates is increasing. Loris is used to make love potions, treat leprosy and eye ailments.Habitat fragmentation is also a threat to the loris population, as well as loss of acacia trees, which is a preferred tree species for the loris.

Well, that’s all the information. We were privileged to be able to see this animal in daylight!

Gundappa Master said that an adult male had been found in the home of a villager in Hebbur, about 11 km from his home. By the time we reached his place, he had rescued the creature and brought it home. It was decided to release the Loris in the heavy-foliage Devarayanadurga State Forest.

We were eager to take a look at the little fellow before we took him to the release area, and Gundappa Sir opened the shoe box in which he’d kept him, ready to be taken on his journey to freedom.


An arm and a leg show themselves:


At last, we could see the little primate. He didn’t seem stressed at all.


Gundappa Sir sets off on the release. The sack contains a Bronzeback Tree Snake, also rescued from a village house, to be released.


We went to the Devarayana Durga State Forest, and went into the interior area, away from the road. Here, in a rocky clearing, Gundappa Master opened the box again:


Gundappa Master takes out the little primate on a twig.

Here it is, climbing around on the twig:


In Tamizh, we say, “thEvAngu mAthiri muzhikkAthEy!” (Don’t stare at me like a Loris!)…now you can understand that!


Yash (in the pic), Gopal and I took photos. Chandu was content to enjoy the moment.


Gundappa Sir has been dealing with these animals for many years now, yet treats them with gentleness.



He shows the animal on the twig; it’s an adult male, about two years old, he says. (I am asking in the video.)

In the video above, you can also see the Loris using its urine to wet its feet. Gundappa Sir said that this was partly territory marking behaviour, and partly to cool its feet. Something else that I learned about this creature!

He puts it on a small bush, first, and it looks around, getting its bearings:


He finally releases the animal into a tree with plenty of foliage, where it proceeds to promptly hide itself:


Off it goes:

Shortly after its release, the Kadupapa was hidden in the foliage. A pair of huge eyes looked out at us for a while..and then he was gone, the Baby of the Forest, elusive as ever.


Here we are, trying to see whether it might be a leopard that is causing so much of alarm calls amongst the Hanuman Langurs around:


Now we are satisfied (we didn’t see any leopard) and happy!


Here’s a warm salute to Gundappa Sir and the beautiful animal he works to protect.


Would you….?


Would you like to be a god
Symbolized by stones..
Or rest in eternal peace,
Your world-weary bones
Under the spreading shade
Of majestic trees
That Nature made?
Would you also say,
Would you agree
With the poet’s words,
“Only God can make a tree”?

Amith, Deepak, Sachin and I went to do a bird census for some friends, on their coffee estate in Sakleshpur. I must say, I didn’t expect such a dream list of birds at the end of April!


Signboards to various places.

The estate is about 450 acres, so, the best of our ability, we divided it into four quadrants and tried to cover one during each outing.

What a difference between a tea and a coffee plantation! Tea plants need the sun, so no other trees are grown; but since coffee needs to grow in shade, a coffee plantation has a variety of trees, and majestic trees are the rule rather than the exception. It was wonderful to see so many spices, beverages, and condiments…pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, coffee, cocoa…all growing together. What a magical region the Western Ghats are!

The fact that the estate had both a small pond and a running stream, even in summer, made for sighting of many more bird species. And perhaps thanks to the elevation, we found many of the migrants still around.



Deepak, checking the map with Mr Dicky, the manager, to decide on the next place to go birding in:


Another check:


On the birding trail:


Deepak, Sachin, Mr Dicky, and Amith:


Stream and bamboo thicket:



A tiny frog:




Common Crow on Latana:


Blue Tiger on Lantana:




Palm beetle (not the Arecanut farmer’s best friend):


Magical hills…



“Magizham Poo”:


Tiny wildflower.


Datura (the fruit of this plant is very poisonous, but it’s used as an ornamental)


One of the coffee growing areas on the estate, and the year of planting.


Plantation workers streaming in to work at day-break.


Mayflower (Gul Mohar) in full bloom on our way to Sakleshpur:


Wild Jasmine:


Un id wildflower:


Beautiful new leaves:


Un id plant.


Waterlilies at Harley Estate.




Confederate Rose:


Un id Wildflower:


Bay leaf :


Lures set out to trap Coffee-berry borers, which destroy the coffee crop:


Coffee-berry Borers caught in the lure:


Red-vented Bulbul back!


Red-vented Bulbul front!


Asian Fairy Bluebird:


Jungle Myna:


Scarlet Minivet:


Syke’s Lark:


Chestnut-headed Bee-eater:


Dusky Crag Martin:



Laundry gets done the old-fashioned way, with a washing stone, at Harley Estates.


Deepak and Shravan.


Four-poster bed at Harley Estate:


Beautiful antique mirror at Harley Estate:


House dating from 1959 at Sakleshpur:




Enjoying watermelons and sugarcane juice in the summer heat:


We stopped at this restaurant, named after the imaginary town created by R K Narayan,for an afternoon snack.

The estate census list is compiled by Deepak, and below that is the list I compiled, of the birds we saw on the drive to and from Sakleshpur. Any mistakes are mine.

On a non-birding note, Sakleshpur seems to have some great eating places, and we enjoyed some excellent akki roti!


Consolidated bird list at the coffee plantation:

Gray Junglefowl – Gallus sonneratii
Indian Peafowl – Pavo cristatus
Asian Openbill – Anastomus oscitans
Little Cormorant – Phalacrocorax niger
Intermediate Egret – Mesophoyx intermedia
Little Egret – Egretta garzetta
Cattle Egret – Bubulcus ibis
Indian Pond Heron – Ardeola grayii
Oriental Honey-buzzard – Pernis ptilorhynchus
Crested Serpent-Eagle – Spilornis cheela
Crested Goshawk – Accipiter trivirgatus
Shikra – Accipiter badius
Brahminy Kite – Haliastur indus
White-breasted Waterhen – Amaurornis phoenicurus
Rock Pigeon – Columba livia
Spotted Dove – Streptopelia chinensis
Emerald Dove – Chalcophaps indica
Gray-fronted Green-Pigeon – Treron affinis
Banded Bay Cuckoo – Cacomantis sonneratii
Southern Coucal – Centropus sinensis
Little Swift – Apus affinis
Asian Palm-Swift – Cypsiurus balasiensis
White-throated Kingfisher – Halcyon smyrnensis
Chestnut-headed Bee-eater – Merops leschenaulti
Malabar Gray Hornbill – Ocyceros griseus
White-cheeked Barbet – Megalaima viridis
Malabar Barbet – Megalaima malabarica
Brown-capped Pygmy Woodpecker – Dendrocopos nanus
White-bellied Woodpecker – Dryocopus javensis
Lesser Yellownape – Picus chlorolophus
Common Flameback – Dinopium javanense
Black-rumped Flameback – Dinopium benghalense
Greater Flameback – Chrysocolaptes guttacristatus
Heart-spotted Woodpecker – Hemicircus canente
Plum-headed Parakeet – Psittacula cyanocephala
Malabar Parakeet – Psittacula columboides
Vernal Hanging-Parrot – Loriculus vernalis
Malabar Woodshrike – Tephrodornis sylvicola
Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike – Hemipus picatus
Ashy Woodswallow – Artamus fuscus
Common Iora – Aegithina tiphia
Small Minivet – Pericrocotus cinnamomeus
Orange Minivet – Pericrocotus flammeus
Large Cuckooshrike – Coracina macei
Black-headed Cuckooshrike – Lalage melanoptera
Brown Shrike – Lanius cristatus
Indian Golden Oriole – Oriolus kundoo
Ashy Drongo – Dicrurus leucophaeus
Bronzed Drongo – Dicrurus aeneus
Spangled Drongo – Dicrurus hottentottus
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo – Dicrurus paradiseus
Black-naped Monarch – Hypothymis azurea
Rufous Treepie – Dendrocitta vagabunda
White-bellied Treepie – Dendrocitta leucogastra
Large-billed Crow – Corvus macrorhynchos
Dusky Crag-Martin – Ptyonoprogne concolor
Barn Swallow – Hirundo rustica
Red-rumped Swallow – Cecropis daurica
Black-lored Tit – Parus xanthogenys
Velvet-fronted Nuthatch – Sitta frontalis
Flame-throated Bulbul – Pycnonotus gularis
Red-vented Bulbul – Pycnonotus cafer
Red-whiskered Bulbul – Pycnonotus jocosus
Yellow-browed Bulbul – Iole indica
Square-tailed Bulbul – Hypsipetes ganeesa
Greenish Warbler – Phylloscopus trochiloides
Common Tailorbird – Orthotomus sutorius
Oriental White-eye – Zosterops palpebrosus
Dark-fronted Babbler – Rhopocichla atriceps
Indian Scimitar-Babbler – Pomatorhinus horsfieldii
Puff-throated Babbler – Pellorneum ruficeps
Brown-cheeked Fulvetta – Alcippe poioicephala
Rufous Babbler – Turdoides subrufa
Jungle Babbler – Turdoides striata
Asian Fairy-bluebird – Irena puella
Oriental Magpie-Robin – Copsychus saularis
White-rumped Shama – Copsychus malabaricus
Tickell’s Blue-Flycatcher – Cyornis tickelliae
Malabar Whistling-Thrush – Myophonus horsfieldii
Orange-headed Thrush – Geokichla citrina
Southern Hill Myna – Gracula indica
Jungle Myna – Acridotheres fuscus
Common Myna – Acridotheres tristis
Malabar Starling – Sturnia blythii
Golden-fronted Leafbird – Chloropsis aurifrons
Nilgiri Flowerpecker – Dicaeum concolor
Purple-rumped Sunbird – Leptocoma zeylonica
Crimson-backed Sunbird – Leptocoma minima
Loten’s Sunbird – Cinnyris lotenius
Little Spiderhunter – Arachnothera longirostra
White-browed Wagtail – Motacilla madaraspatensis
House Sparrow – Passer domesticus

​Here​’s the bird list for the journey to and from Bangalore to Sakleshpur:

Babbler, Jungle
Babbler, Rufous
Babbler, Yellow-billed
Bushcat, Pied
Barbet, Coppersmith
Barbet, White-cheeked
Bee-eater, Small Green
Bulbul, Red-vented
Bulbul, Red-whiskered
Coot, Common,
Cormorant, Little
Coucal, Southern
Crow, Jungle
Dove, Spotted
Drongo, Black
Duck, Spot-billed
Egret, Cattle
Egret, Intermediat​e​
Flameback, Black-rumped
Flowerpecker, Pale-billed
Heron, Grey
Heron, Indian Pond
Heron, Purple
Hoopoe, Common
Ibis, Black-headed
Iora, Common
Jacana, Bronze-winged
Kingfisher, White-throated
Lapwing, Red-watt​l​ed
Lark, Syke’s
Martin, Dusky Crag
Moorhen, Common
Myna, Common
Myna, Jungle
Openbill, Asian
Owl, Rock Eagle
Parakeet, Rose-ringed
Pigeon, Blue Rock
Prinia, Ashy
Pygmy-Goose, Cotton
Robin, Indian
Robin, Oriental Magpie
Roller, Indian
Shrike, Brown
Shrike, Long-tailed
Sparrow, House
Starling, Brahminy
Starling, Chestnut-tailed
Stork, Painted
Sunbird, Purple
Sunbird, Purple-rumped
Swallow, Red-rumped
Swamphen, Purple
Swift, Asian Palm
Tailorbird, Common
Tit, Great
Treepie, Rufous
Treepie, White-bellied
Wagtail, White-browed
Wagtail, Yellow
Warbler, Booted
Waterhen, White-breasted
Whistling-Duck, Lesser
White-eye, Oriental
Woodswallow, Ashy

Butterfly List:

Blue, Various
Bush Brown, Common
Bush Brown, Glad-eye
Castor, Common
Crow, Common
Crow, Double-banded
Coster, Tawny
Damselflies, Various
Dragonflies, Various
Emigrant, Common
Jezebel, Common
Rose, Common
Skipper, Indian
Tiger, Plain
Tiger, Striped
Wanderer. Common
Yellow, Common Grass
Yellow, ​Three-spot ​ Grass


Macaque, Bonnet
Mongoose, Ruddy


Agama, Peninsular Rock
Bullfrog Indian
Frog, un id, Fejarvarya sp.
Snake, Rat

​My photos (er, mixed bag, don’t look if you only want birds!) are on my FB albums at





Hope you enjoyed the e-trip!

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