Tag Archive: video

The complete Indian National Anthem

Though not greatly impressed by the self-conscious “I am a star singing” rendition of the singers…it’s still a very beautiful poem, and very rarely does one hear all the stanzas sung (just like many other national anthems, I suspect!)

The translation is very good, too.

Now, if we could translated the emotion of pride that we feel into less corruption, lesser litter, less unkindness towards our fellow citizens(and less apathetic acceptance of all these)….that would make for a better India.


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.

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

I’ve always been drawn to owls, and the


also called the Indian Eagle Owl, has been one of my favourites; I’ve sighted it at Bannerghatta, Turahalli, and at various other locations.


For the past few years, we’ve been watching some of these majestic birds making their home on the rocky outcrops of the highway built by Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprises (NICE), around Bangalore.


As we were returning from our trip to Sakleshpur, where we did a bird census for a coffee estate (a very satisfying assignment, more about it later!) we decided we would detour on to this toll road and try our luck with the owls. And we were rewarded for our efforts!


The Rock Eagle Owls were earlier treated as a subspecies of the Eurasian Eagle-Owl (Bubo bubo) but are now considered as separate.


The wiki says, “They are seen in scrub and light to medium forests but are especially seen near rocky places within the mainland of the Indian Subcontinent south of the Himalayas and below 5000 feet elevation.


“Humid evergreen forest and extremely arid areas are avoided. Bush-covered rocky hillocks and ravines, and steep banks of rivers and streams are favourite haunts.


Here’s a view of the habitat…can you see one of the Owls here?


I zoomed in further:


and some more, to show the excellent camouflage when the bird’s head is turned away, and those amazing eyes are not visible:


Here, one eye is visible:


“The nesting season is November to April. The eggs number three to four and are creamy white, broad roundish ovals with a smooth texture. They are laid on bare soil in a natural recess in an earth bank, on the ledge of a cliff, or under the shelter of a bush on level ground. The nest site is reused each year. The eggs hatch after about 33 days and the chicks are dependent on their parents for nearly six months.”

They were quite enjoying the breeze, closing their eyes and letting their feathers ruffle:


Nowhere is the usefulness of a good zoom illustrated more in the ability to “approach” these birds while keeping one’s distance. Here are the lesser and higher zoom images:



“It spends the day under the shelter of a bush or rocky projection, or in a large mango or similar thickly foliaged tree near villages.”


Their diet seems to be very varied: “Their diet through much of the year consists of rodents, but birds seem to be mainly taken towards winter. Prey species of birds include partridges, doves, Indian Roller,the Shikra and the Spotted Owlet. Birds the size of a peacock are sometimes attacked; Bats were also preyed on, and mammals the size of a Black-naped hare may be taken.” As if to bear this out, we saw several Peafowl on the fence nearby, and squirrels scampering around the area.

Alas, all is not well in the world of the Owls. The Wiki notes:” Like many other large owls, these are considered birds of ill omen. Their deep haunting calls if delivered from atop a house are considered to forebode the death of an occupant. A number of rituals involving the capture and killing of these birds have been recorded. Salim Ali notes a wide range of superstitions related to them but notes two as being particularly widespread. One is that if the bird is starved for a few days and beaten, it would speak like a human, predicting the future of the tormentor or bringing them wealth while the other involves the killing of the bird to find a lucky bone that moved against the current like a snake when dropped into a stream. Belief in these superstitions has led to the persecution of the species in many areas by tribal hunters. The capture of these birds is illegal under Indian law but an underground market continues to drive poaching.”

It is sad that superstition seems to rule the life prospects of these beautiful birds…and another matter of concern with the owls shown here is the rampant construction going on in the area where the Owls are.

But as of now, the birds seem to be holding their own. I do hope the Rock Eagle Owls of the NICE Road remain, sentinels of our urban wildlife, for a long time to come!

Here’s a video of two of the birds, and the rocky habitat:

Should you go to the NICE Road to sight these birds, please keep your distance from them, and use a good pair of binoculars or good zoom lenses to observe and document them. They are under enough threat from urban development, let us not add to the difficulties of their survival! Also, remember that you are on a highway, so keep the car moving slowly. If you stop the car and get out…be quick, and be careful..remember that on the highway, you yourself are at risk!

Lion-tailed Macaques, Valparai, 18-200414

On Good Friday, Anjali, Gopal, Rohan, Tharangini, Yeshoda and I went to


in the aNNAmalai range (Coimbatore district) in Tamil Nadu.




was one of the several creatures we hoped to see on our trip to Valparai. The lion-tailed macaque (Macaca silenus), or the wanderoo, is an Old World monkey endemic to the Western Ghats of South India.

The hair of the lion-tailed macaque is black. Its outstanding characteristic is the silver-white mane which surrounds the head from the cheeks down to its chin, which gives this monkey its German name Bartaffe – “beard ape”


it lives in hierarchical groups of usually 10 to 20 animals, which consist of few males and many females. It is a territorial animal, defending its area first with loud cries towards the invading troops.

It primarily eats indigenous fruits, leaves, buds, insects and small vertebrates in virgin forest, but can adapt to rapid environmental change in areas of massive selective logging through behavioural modifications and broadening of food choices to include fruits, seeds, shoots, pith, flowers, cones, mesocarp, and other parts of many nonindigenous and pioneer plants.


The lion-tailed macaque ranks among the rarest and most threatened primates. Their range has become increasingly isolated and fragmented by the spread of agriculture and tea, coffee, teak and cinchona, construction of water reservoirs for irrigation and power generation, and human settlements to support such activities. They did not, in the past live, feed or travel through plantations, but this behaviour has changed.

Destruction of their habitat and their avoidance of human proximity have led to the drastic decrease of their population.

Here’s one swinging about on the wire:

It then proceeds to lick the raindrops off the leaves of the plant:

I loved watching this mother and child:





Gestation is approximately six months. The young are nursed for one year. Sexual maturity is reached at four years for females, and six years for males. The life expectancy in the wild is approximately 20 years

Here’s a small, funny incident as a macaque jumps up as something bothers it, and starts running away:

Here’s one eating the seeds from the seed pod of the Spathodea (African Tulip), which is an exotic tree:


I took a little more…

This troop of Macaques did forage and travel through the coffee plantation. They did not disturb us, and we did not disturb them.


Here are a group, enjoying themselves (yes, that’s what I feel!) in the evening:


Having gone thrice to the zoo area in the course of a week, I was able to see the camp elephants being brought back from their foraging trips in the periphery of the Bannerghatta forest area.


I must say, I am very impressed with the health of these camp elephants, and their excellent relationships with their mahouts.

They are fed large balls of rAgi (a kind of millet that Karnataka is famous for…Kannadigas love rAgi muddhE, small balls of rAgi flour, with sAmbhAr), every day, and are given enough fodder, too.

As they come back towards the Kingfisher Pond, they seem to love having dust baths. Here are the females, lying down in the dust:


They are helped by their mahouts…the second one is just about settling down!



Look at the little one nuzzling up!


The amount of dust that a female human being would instantly set about cleaning, seems welcome to a female elephant!



A young one comes along curiously (she’s called Roopa):


There’s work to be done…this wood has to be carried inside the zoo, but neither youngster is doing to do that (just like humans!)


The little one, indeed, roots along happily:



They start walking towards the rear entrance of the zoo:


Here’s a short video of their gait:

It’s left to the adults to bring the baled wood:



The elephant’s trunk and mouth are such amazing things!


Obediently, El Nino follows his mother and aunts:


Now, it is the turn of the tusker (in India, only male elephants have tusks) to come and settle down:



Not an appealing sight, the rear of an elephant? I found it quite interesting…


Because, as the mahout dusted him down, I saw a part of an elephant I’ve never seen before (no, not THAT, you dirty-minded lot!)


The soles of an elephant’s feet!


This tusker is called “Vanaraja” (King of the Forest):


After his dust bath, he headed in the opposite direction, back into the forest periphery:


Here’s the tusker getting up:

We watched him as he swayed off, majestically:


After being brought back into the Zoo, they seemed to be very happy in their enclosure:


Throwing dust over themselves, or dusty stuff, seems to be a way of relaxing:


The unnamed baby was especially happy, lolling about in the fodder:


“Lattu”: Traditional tops

Playing with tops is a boy’s sport in India.

This is not a sexist statement, it quite simply is so; I have not seen girls playing with tops, from my childhood, till date. As I grew up, I found that there was a season for tops (referred to as “lattu” in Hindi and Bengali), much as there was a season for marbles, kite-flying, cricket, football, and gilli-danda.

Tops came traditionally as wooden globes, with nails sticking out of them. Thin ropes were wound round and round the lower part of the top, which had grooves to accommodate the string. Then, with a sharp whip-like movement, the rope was thrown, and the top would land on the ground, spinning at top speed. Boys could often throw the rope around the nail on the spinning top and get the top to fly up into the air, to be be caught triumphantly; or actually spin along the tautly-held rope itself, like an acrobat on a high wire. It was a magical sight to see the dexterity with which some top “players” could handle their tops.

I took a video of one boy in Anekal, some time ago: You can see how the top is spun, and then gathered on the string again.

The upper part of the top would be painted in bright, solid colours which could change in appearance as the top spun.

I’ve seen other tops being sold, recently, especially wooden tops, brightly coloured, made in Channapatna, Karnataka. But these, to my knowledge, are not “competition” tops.The string, in these tops, was much thinner, or some of them were just spun by hand.

The whole subject had been forgotten when, walking down Bannerghatta Road yesterday evening, I saw some Rajasthani boys playing with tops:


Each boy could throw the top up by putting the rope around it and whipping it up. (You can see one boy doing it in the photo.)

And apart from this, one boy would, with deadly accuracy, release his top so as to land exactly on an other spinning top, and knock it out of its spin. This, obviously, constituted a victory of sorts in the game.


You can see a top lying on the ground in this photo, having been “knocked out” in this way. It was definitely quite an organized, competitive game and took me back to my childhood when my brother and his friends played each evening with them, winning and losing tops, until the “season” ended…in the same mysterious way that the boys knew when the season started, they knew when to put their tops away and go on to the next kind of game!

More affluent children may have their computer games and their X-boxes…but I was glad to see that such fun sports, which do not need batteries or electricity, still survive amongst children.

Many Rajasthani families migrate to our cities to work as construction workers, carpenters, and makers of ceramic and glass artefacts…it was the children of some of these families that I photographed yesterday.

Something I’d like to share with all of you is this wonderful video by a couple who are good friends, Raghunath Belur and Sugandhi Gadadhar. The audio for this is a percussion “conversation” between different south Indian musical instruments that often form a part of a classical Carnatic music concert. Apart from the great visuals, they have very creatively incorporated this percussion passage, which, in my language (Tamizh) we call a “thani Avarthanam”.

After the flute,you hear the

MRIDANGAM , a south Indian classical music percussion instrument

alternating with the

TABLA , a north Indian pair of drums used in all forms of music.

They alternate to a diminuendo and then join in and build to a crescendo, after which the flute picks up the melody again and brings the thani Avarthanam to a conclusion that the creatures dance to!

It’s 3’14” long.

Ganeshgudi, in Karnataka, lies in the Western Ghats, with is a World Biodiversity hotspot, and all these birds can be seen in just a day or two.

Here’s a detailed list of what you see:

The opening music is that of the Malabar Whistling Thrush, which our foremost birder, Dr. Salim Ali, has dubbed the “Whistling Schoolboy”.

Cast in order of appearance:
# Malabar Pied Hornbill in flight
# Malabar Pied Hornbill feeding on fig
# Southern Birdwing butterfly – largest butterfly in Southern India
# Blue-eared Kingfisher
# White-rumped Shama
# White-bellied Blue Flycatcher
# Ruby-throated Bulbul and Oriental White-eye (top left)
# Malabar Trogon
# Cruiser butterfly
# Asian Paradise Flycatcher Male
# Black-naped Monarch
# Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher
# Forest Calotes
# Chocolate Pansy butterfly
# Draco (flying lizard)
# Unidentified moth
# Ground Skimmer dragonfly
# Green Bee-eater with dragonfly kill
# Crested Goshawk
# White-bellied Woodpecker
# Blue-capped Rock Thrush
# Yellow-browed Bulbul
# Crested Serpent Eagle
# Grey-headed Fish Eagle
# Grass Funnel Web Spider
# Rat snake
# Cruiser butterfly
# Malabar Barbet
# Oriental Magpie Robin
# Common Emerald Dove
# Unidentified Warbler
# Verditer Flycatcher
# Coppersmith Barbet
# Malabar Pied Hornbill (left: male, right: female)
# Indian Pitta
# Pompadour Green Pigeon
# Malabar Whistling Thrush
# Cruiser butterfly
# White-rumped Shama
# Orange-headed Thrush
# Five-ring butterfly (?)
# Southern Birdwing butterfly
# Blue-capped Rock Thrush
# Coppersmith Barbet
# Blue-capped Rock Thrush (female)
# Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher (female)
# Brown-Cheeked Fulvetta
# Blue-capped Rock Thrush
# White-bellied Blue Flycatcher
# Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher
# Indian Yellow Tit
# Brown-Cheeked Fulvetta
# White-rumped Shama
# Ruby-throated Bulbul
# Indian Yellow Tit
# Asian Paradise Flycatcher
# Indian Yellow Tit
# Purple Sunbird
# Ruby-throated Bulbul
# Forest Calotes
# White-bellied Blue Flycatcher
# Dark-fronted Babbler
# Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher
# Brown-Cheeked Fulvetta
# Blue-capped Rock Thrush
# Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher (female)
# Oriental White-eye
# Asian Paradise Flycatcher
# Yellow-browed Bulbul
# Hanuman Langur
# Malabar Giant Squirrel
# Indian Palm Squirrel
# Unidentied ants
# Malabar Trogon with kill
# Thrush (?)
# Ants – Pachycondyla rufipes
# Gladeye Bushbrown butterfly
# Great Hornbill
# Indian Pitta
# Malabar Pied Hornbill

Some bird behaviour, Nandi Hills, 070214

Our visit to Nandi Hills provided me a great opportunity to watch several birds’ behaviour. I found that several birds, such as the Orange-throated Thrush, or this


forage amongst the dead leaves, turning them over to get at the insects:

Birds such as the


are more shy and keep to the tree canopy:

Other birds forage along the pathways. I’d never previously seen a


do the same thing. He only flew away when some visitors approached too close, and was not disturbed by our prescence at all.

It’s wonderful to be able to spend a little time, watching these beauties and not have to rush off. so..it was a productive, enjoyable morning at Nandi Hills.

I often notice that two, and sometimes three, female Bonnet Macaques join together to care for a baby. This morning, at the Nursery area in Nandi Hills, I watched these two females. The one on the right is the “actual” mother; you can see the afterbirth, still, around her tail.

The baby is still wet from the birth and looks quite rat-like. The two seem to be checking him out. Surprisingly, with such a tender little one to care for, they were both sitting on the ground, right out in the open. I must google whether monkeys give birth on trees or on the ground…

The experience awed me…it was one of many wonderful things we saw, Kamal and I, this morning, at Nandi Hills.

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