Volunteer birding at Bannerghatta

February 17, 2009

My friend Geetanjali Dhar started a very worthwhile initiative for the children in the gated community where she, her husband Subir, and daughter Avantika, live. They go regularly for adventure activities in the weekends, and part of this is a birding trip, conducted by volunteers.

Vittal , his 10-year-old son Aditya (who is a better birder than his dad, and sometimes I think, a better writer too!) Anush , and I are regulars, but this time we co-opted Chandu and Mahesh . Except for Mahesh (who missed taking the NTP because of illness), all of us are NTP members.

Geetanjali and Subir took all of us…several children and some adults from their community…to an area beyond the huge quarry in the Bannerghatta area. This part, except for the communicating road, seemed to be not disturbed, and we walked around for about an hour; I can confidently say that no matter how the conductees felt about the trip, the conductors had a great time!

What was sad was the way all our wildernesses are being converted to housing layouts…I like this image because it shows what’s happening…

construction bg 160209

The mango tree is in full bloom, but right in front of it is the construction worker carrying material to put up more habitation…and soon, the trees, the grass, the flora and fauna will all go….

Oh well, who am I to complain, probably the apartment block that I live in also despoiled the forest area in a similar way, twenty years ago!

Here's the beauty of the fresh leaves on the tree: mathi mara bg 160209 Here's most of the group, on the pathway: nisarga layout group 160209 bg And here's the volunteer group, tucking into breakfast at the excellent restaurant in Nisarga Layout: volunteer group nisarga layout 160209 The morning sun came up over the slopes, but didn't warm us up for quite a while... 160209 sunrise bg Here's the view of the stream, with a path cutting across it in the form of a causeway: stream bg road 160209 As we drove to a stop to start our Nature walk, I looked up and saw this EURASIAN MARSH HARRIER (much lively discussion ensued about its id, it was Geetanjali who id'd it correctly!)flying right overhead. marsh harrier 160209 bg I struggled to get some shots before the beautiful bird disappeared over the treetops: marsh harrier one wing 160209 We walked on the road, with a tinkling stream meandering along to our left; on the slopes on both sides of the road were lots of birds. Here's the WHITE-BROWED BULBUL, that Chandu carefully showed the youngsters, asking them to mark its various attributes.... 160209 white-browed bulbul bg I showed them how the LITTLE GREEN BEE-EATERS flew around in the air, hawking for insects, which they then sat on the trees or bamboo plants, and breakfasted on quickly: bee-eating bg 160209 The children were intrigued by the complexity of the nests of the SOCIAL SPIDERS: social spiders' nest bg 160209 Kiran Srivastava, whom I met on INW and whom I regularly email about cabbages and kings, sent me this monograph about these spiders. If you can wade through it, good for you! :) Apart from showing them this extremely tiny (large as the tip of my little finger) butterfly, I was able to photograph it, too! Photobucket Update: Karthik tells me it's the TINY GRASS BLUE.

But to me, the most interesting part of the trip was this BLACK-SHOULDERED KITE, which, for the first time, I saw perched on a tree instead of its usual telephone-wire roost! The bird was “wagging” its tail in a metronome-like fashion for quite a long time….


Here’s the video that I took of this behaviour…

I have never seen this behaviour before, and I don’t think the bird was balancing itself, as there was no breeze at all, and the movement of the tail was too regular for that, too. First time I have seen a Black-Shouldered Kite pretending to be a WAGTAIL! :)

Well…whether I get an explanation or not…the Bannerghatta forest area is just wonderful, and we had a great morning!