It was a day where all the senses were fully engaged, at Devarayana Durga (Phonetically, dEvarAyana durgA…durgA means ‘fort’.) The Devarayanadurga State Forest (DDSF) area is one of the most beautiful I have seen, in the District of Tumkur, which is also home to the the endangered Slender Loris and the Blackbuck . The awe-inspiring rock formation, and the variety of fauna and flora that can be found, made me decide to visit the place.
I have already talked about the macaque antics, and will be describing the places and the landmarks of Devarayanadurga in a later post. Here is what Nature shared with us that day:
As we walked along the track into the forest area, Seshadri, who is a good tracker, spotted these marks at our feet:
How lovely to think that a LEOPARD had passed that way a while ago, and much more recently, a PEACOCK had come along the same way, flaunting his feathers! Predator and prey, using the same jungle track...
Seshadri says he always carries a small scale with him for size documentation, so we put that down for a measure, too:
At almost the same place, we also saw these marks of the CIVET:
And then the marks of a BLACK-NAPED HARE:
We actually did see a WILD BOAR, but it quickly disappeared into the undergrowth and we could not sight it again.
Many of the trees that I looked at I could not identify; here are a few beauties:
That one had lovely flowers; this one below seemed to be some variety of silk-cotton, though it looked as though eggplants or brinjals were fruiting on the tree!
Update: Karthik tells me it is the Yellow Silk Cotton - Cochlospermum gossypium.
Er....a silk-cotton tree that gossips? ;)
A few of the fruits were on the ground, broken open, and I saw the silk inside. I have done my usual ASK (Ask S Karthikeyan) and am waiting for his id. Here is the seed pod:
Here is another tree with pretty flowers:
Update: Karthik says, "Tabebuia pallida - not sure".
One did not have to look up; at one' feet, there was beauty, too. Here is a stand of clover and wildflowers:
Update: Karthik says that it is indeed clover, oxalis sp.
And the trees seem to be in a hurry this year; the Gul Mohar, which is called the May Flower because of the time of its flowering, was in a hurry to flower in April!
Some trees had no flowers; the leaves themselves were as attractive as blossoms:
Update: Karthik says it could be Terminalia bellirica.
We smelt a few of the fruits, but could not identify them:
And after the few days of heavy rain that we had, the countrside was washed clean; we did not know it was dew or raindrops on the leaves.
But spring was in the air; apart from the mating butterflies and dragonflies, new life was sprouting all around us:
And new life was being prepared for, too. I found these lovely "shaving-brush" -like seeds, ready for the wind to carry them away where they would turn into fresh seedlings:
And just to keep things interesting, we had a mystery that had nothing to do with Nature. Tucked away under a rock was this pair of sandals; through the day, no one came to claim them. , you are welcome to spin a tale of imagination and fantasy about how they got there!
We decided to have a break for snacks and much-needed water; I looked down at Ani's camera and the 20 D, and it struck me as funny, because normally, Nikon and Canon users are very vociferous about the respective merits of their cameras, and here they were, peacefully co-existing!
Some of the insects we saw were lovely, too. Apart from the butterflies, we spotted this nest of the SOCIAL SPIDERS that I had earlier photographed and written about :
Here's a little SNAIL ( here's my post and verse about one and another snail as part of some sightings here .....it was making its way at a.....snail's pace, and all of us clicked it:
We stopped for our break near a large Ficus tree; the green of the leaves and the orange of the figs made a beautiful picture.
The id: Karthik says, "There are 60 odd species of figs in Karnataka" so he cannot commit to saying another other than "it's a Ficus"!
But we soon realized that the colour combination made a fantastic camouflage for some of the birds, too. You can see a COPPERSMITH BARBET flying out of the foliage, and see how well its' red head and coloured feathers help it to blend into the tree:
And the PLUM-HEADED PARAKEETS,too, blend in beautifully with their heads among the orange figs and their feathers among the green leaves:
We saw plenty of the YELLOW-THROATED BULBULS, which are the "speciality" of this region. Even though I knew the name, when Arun and Seshadri kept referring to its initials, I heard it as "White E B". ..."what's this white E B that they are talking about, is it a White Egret Bird or something ?" I wondered, "and why can't I see any?" It took my cement-brain a few minutes to work out that it was "Y T B" (Yellow Throated Bulbul) and not White E B! Much mental head-slapping ensued, and I was laughing at myself.
All the Yellow-Throated Bulbuls were deep in the foliage of the trees, and none of us could get proper shots. Here's a shot of the bird that I took in December, in the Ramagiri temple at Ramnagara, Tumkur:
The same problem happened with the SMALL MINIVETS that we saw; when I finally saw one, the face was hidden by a twig:
but then I decided to leave this shot of its flight feathers still out, as it settled into the tree, as the angle is so unusual:
Even a WHITE-BROWED BULBUL would not pose properly for me:
You can barely see the white "brow" and the eye under the leaves!
But I am happier with this shot of the TICKELL'S (or PALE-BILLED) FLOWERPECKER:
These are small, restless birds, and I have found it very difficult to get them on camera at all!
We saw some raptors overhead, enjoying the thermals. Here's a CRESTED SERPENT EAGLE, which was calling too:
And here's an ORIENTAL HONEY BUZZARD:
We later also saw a WHITE-EYED BUZZARD, with its distinctive "plaintive mewling call" as Salim Ali describes it; but the picture I have is of a black blob in the far distance!
Kiran and Arun (sounds like twins, doesn't it!) went furhter past the temple, and there, they saw the SHAHEEN FALCON, which they had to use my S3 to capture. They have still managed to get a picture that shows the eye, at that great distance, too:
On the way back, we saw this BUTTERFLY (BLACK RAJAH, thanks for the id, Karthik!) , sitting and feeding on monkey scat; it was interesting, but the smell was not very attractive!
But...smell WAS a major feature of the beauty of the day. Throughout the woods, the WILD JASMINE spread its heady scent, attracting honey bees as well as delighting us:
And the SAMPIGE/CHAMPA trees bloomed and sent their scents through the jungle, too. The clean smell of EUCALYPTUS, the fruity smell of the FIGS, the general smell of the greenery...
Indeed, a day that feasted our senses, as we saw, smelt, heard and touched many things...and then, of course, we enjoyed the samosas, kachoris, buttermilk and coffee that I had brought along, and the soak-and-eat "avalakki" that KKI had brought...and in the rising heat, every mouthful of water was a great treat, as well.
We had a hearty laugh as soon as we entered, for Seshadri pointed out to a yellow-and-black animal sitting on the road in the far distance. "Tiger!" he cried; and we looked, only to realize that he was pulling a fast one on us...it was a dog! then had us in splits by explaining that she was instantly ready to run away!
"What sort of naturalist are you, to run in the *opposite* direction from a tiger sighting?" we teased her. Then it occurred to me, probably a very smart one, to run off and leave us to the tender mercies of the tiger! Mamta, you are not going to hear the last of this for a long time! And the irony is, Mamta just adores snakes, and wants to become a herpetologist...snakes OK, stripes not OK! :)))