Tag Archive: youtube


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.

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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

here

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

The

HOOPOE

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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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 been lucky enough to spot the

SLENDER LORIS

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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.

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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.

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An arm and a leg show themselves:

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

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

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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:

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Gundappa Master takes out the little primate on a twig.

Here it is, climbing around on the twig:

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

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

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

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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:

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

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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.

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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:

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

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

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Lion-tailed Macaques, Valparai, 18-200414

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

Valparai

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

The

LION-TAILED MACAQUE

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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”

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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.

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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:

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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:

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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.

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

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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.

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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:

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

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Look at the little one nuzzling up!

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

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

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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!)

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The little one, indeed, roots along happily:

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They start walking towards the rear entrance of the zoo:

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Here’s a short video of their gait:

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

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

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Obediently, El Nino follows his mother and aunts:

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

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

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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!)

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The soles of an elephant’s feet!

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

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

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Here’s the tusker getting up:

We watched him as he swayed off, majestically:

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

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

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

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“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:

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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.

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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

Hosakote kere, Karnataka, 230213

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Kamal pinged me past 10pm yesterday…and off we went,early this morning, to Hosakote Kere, with Vasuki, and having picked up Binu on the way, too.

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At the MCS (Mandatory Chai Stop).

We stopped at the bund of Hosakote Kere, with the sun still low in the eastern horizon, silhouetting the swallows…

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A

BLACK-WINGED KITE

sub-adult seemed to have wings of black…and silver…

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There were already other photographers at the kere:

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And we joined them:

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The marshy area of the kere was aglow with green algae:

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I followed some PLAIN PRINIAS through the bushes:

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Several WOOD SANDPIPERS waded around:

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It seemed as if this GREATER CORMORANT was lifting its wings in benison:

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PHEASANT-TAILED JACANAS strutted their paisley shapes about:

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a vee-formation of Cormorants went past:

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At full zoom, my camera caught these two SILVERBILLS on a little pot!

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A GREY-BELLLIED CUCKOO delighted us very briefly:

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A GLOSSY IBIS sat in the reeds

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All of a sudden, a huge flock of ducks appeared in the sky, wheeled around, and came to settle in the waters of the kere. We watched, spellbound:

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Two SPOT-BILLED PELICANS landed, and floated lightly about:

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BLACK-WINGED STILTS were in plenty:

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It was a stunning sight when at some mysterious signal they all took off:

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There were many LITTLE GREBES:

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A great sighting today by Kamal was of the

GREAT REED WARBLER

in the reeds of the lake. Alas, he could not get a shot.

There were many fishermen on the kere, in plastic coracles (though I saw the traditional bamboo ones on the bank, too.)

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The trishool of the Gangamma temple was decorated:

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The temple is the Om of the Goddess!

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You can see Shiva sitting with Parvati, with Ganga on his head:

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Everywhere, TENT SPIDERS had spun a mist:

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We took a breakfast break, and went to Sri Krishna Upahar on the main highway:

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On the bund, a borewell was being dug, and rice and freshly-caught fish were ready for cooking:

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Birds:

Babbler, Jungle
Bee-eater, Small Green
Bulbul, Red-vented
Bushchat, Pied
Bushlark, Jerdon’s
Coot, Common
Cormorant, Great
Cormorant,Little
Coucal, Greater
Crow, House
Crow, Jungle
Cuckoo, Grey-bellied
Dove, Laughing
Dove, Spotted
Drongo, Black
Duck, Spot-billed
Egret, Cattle
Egret, Great
Egret, Intermediate
Egret, Little
Flowerpecker, Pale-billed
Francolin, Grey
Garganey
Grebe, LIttle
Harrier, Eurasian Marsh
Heron, Grey
Heron, Indian Pond
Heron, Purple
Ibis, Glossy
Jacana, Pheasant-tailed
Kite, Black
Kite, Black-winged
Kite, Bramhiny
Koel, Asian
Lapwing, Red-wattled
Lark, Ashy-crowned Sparrow
Moorhen, Common
Moorhen, Purple
Myna, Common
Myna, Jungle
Oriole, Eurasian Golden
Parakeet, Rose-ringed
Pelican, Spot-billed
Pigeon, Blue Rock
Pipit, Paddyfield
Prinia, Ashy
Prinia, Plain
Robin, Indian
Roller, Indian
Sandpiper, Green
Sandpiper, Wood
Silverbill, Indian
Sparrow, House
Starling,Rosy
Stilt, Black-winged
Sunbird, Purple
Sunbird, Purple-rumped
Swallow, Barn
Swallow, Red-rumped
Swallow, Wire-tailed
Swift, Asian Palm
Tailorbird, Common
Wagtail, White-browed
Wagtail, Yellow
Warbler, Blyth’s Reed
Warbler, Booted
Warbler, Clamorous Reed
Warbler, Great Reed

Sorry, didn’t keep track of butterfies today. Was somehow tired and a little sleepy, off my form!

Photos on my FB album,

click here

I took two short videos; one, of a shimmering black line of Swallows, and a white line of Egrets:

Another of a flight of ducks, swirling over the lake, not landing but wheeling around:

Let me close with a pic of this bAginA (offering) that someone had made. A baagina usually contains a packet of arshina (turmeric), kumkum, black bangles, black beads (used in the mangalsutra), a comb, a small mirror, baLe bicchoLe, coconut, blouse piece, dhaanya (cereal), rice, toor dal, green dal, wheat or rava and jaggery cut in a cube form. The baagina is offered in a traditional mora (winnow painted with turmeric).

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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

PUFF-THROATED BABBLER

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

Birds such as the

NILGIRI WOOD PIGEON

are more shy and keep to the tree canopy:

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

TICKELL’S BLUE FLYCATCHER

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.

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