The 3rd Sunday bngbirds outing, Kalkere State Reserve Forest,Bannerghatta, 170710

July 19, 2010

As Sesh mentioned (already!) on Facebook, it was a record turnout for the 3rd Sunday bngbirds outing, at Kalkere, on Bannerghatta Road. I thought we might be 70, but Sesh’s tally was 120!

The walk also lasted much longer than any bngbirds outing I’ve ever been to…we broke up only past noon, I think!

Here’s our starting point, the office of the Deputy Conservator of Forests:

dcf office kalkere 170710

Let me start with a very big thank you to Geetanjali and Subir Dhar, who’ve been tirelessly promoting nature trails and birdwalks for everyone, in the Bannerghatta area:

170710 geetanjali and subir

and to the Forest Guards, of whom I was able to photograph Kuppiah and Shankar:

kuppiah (l) and shankar (r)

Here are a few of us, gathered together, trying to look at dim shapes in the dim light that the experts assured us were warblers and sunbirds: bngbirds members 170710 kalkere I decided to take a panning shot of our group, which was one of four before we all finally met up: and here's Subbu, with binocs, and his knowledge... ready to share both with anyone who asked! 170710 subbu here's just one shot of the beautiful scenery that we walked through: scenery rock pools 170710 I woud call this a nature ramble, rathen than a birdwalk, as we certainly didn't see too many birds (as Sesh said, more birders than birds!)...and the only two I managed to snap were this beautiful (though moulting) SHORT-TOED SNAKE EAGLE short-toed snake eagle 170710 (I must add that many experienced birders have the habit of shortening the name and just saying "Short-toed!" when they see the bird, giving the impression to newbies that there is a short toad flying in the sky.) This SMALL GREEN BARBET was sitting rather far away, but was at least photographable in the grey, dim light... barbet 170710 Could someone put up the birdlist, please? We did see several Red-Wattled Lapwings, Warblers, Sunbirds, and Flowerpeckers, an Eurasian Eagle Owl, a Blue-faced Malkoha, a pair of Grey Francolins, and perhaps others saw more birds.... But the "various curious" things that I mentioned were numerous, and fascinating. We started with the common CHELORODENDRUM flowers: cholordendrum sp. 170710 MBK pointed out the ASPARAGUS plant....(I didn't know this is the origin of the asparagus on my table!) and Karthik told me that the red leaf in the photo belongs to the INDIAN SARASAPARILLA: asparagus fern and indian sarasaparilla I loved the red berries of this plant, with the dreadfully difficult scientific name of Erythroxylon monogynum...but Karthik tells me it's called the BASTARD SANDAL as the plant has a scent similar to sandalwood: bastard sandal Subbu picked some of these delicious SCUTIA berries for us, and told us how birds feast upon them (so did I!) scutia berries 170710 These bushes had beautiful flowers, but were also infected with GALL: kalkere bush with gall We had a discussion on the difference between thorns and prickles; these "wait a bit" prickles, explained Subbu, are curved backwards, so that they make you pause and "wait a bit" as you extricate yourself and your clothes from them! wait a bit thorns 170710 MBK asked us to look at this flowering tree, but alas, I never found out what it was, hoping to be enlightened now! un id flowering tree 170710 Karthik pointed out this beautiful GROUND ORCHID: ground orchid 170710 Update: Sangeeta Kadur tells me it is the Habenaria roxburghii (Thanks, S!) Everywhere, these brilliant,tiny flowers (belonging to the Commelinacae family, Karthik tells me that they are the Cyanotis sp.) were blooming...I call them the Deepavali firecracker flower! commelina sp. 170710 MBK explained some of the techniques of plant census and interpretation, with help from A K Raju, at one of the rock pools (we also had a great time looking at the tadpoles and hoppers!) plant census 170710 MBK showed us this fluid oozing through the rocks. It is emitted by a small creature called the Diatom... and it was amazing to think of the fact that such fluids are what, ultimately, are converted into petrol! dation in rocks 170710 This was also a nostalgia trip for the experienced birders/naturalists amongst us. In the "good old days", experienced naturalists like Karthik, MBK and Subbu would walk along the path and this HANUMAN STONE was a landmark for them: hanuman stone kalkere 170710 We found this piece of QUARTZ, mbk holding quartz which this gemmologist (do give your name!) identified: the gemmologist who id'd the quartz We had an interesting discussion about quartz and agate! Even s*&t is interesting in Nature...these are the droppings of a BLACK-NAPED HARE (there are no "rabbits" in India, technically!) black-naped hare droppings But by far the most interesting things on the outing was what I call "Life Under Foot"...the life that exists under foot, and is under a foot, and often under an inch, in size. On a nearby plant, this PLUM JUDY posed: plum judy 170710 we were enchanted by the beauty of this GREEN LYNX SPIDER: kalkere green lynx spider Subbu showed us this pupa of the BAGWORM/CASEWORM: bagworm/caseworm We were also told that these HAIRY CATERPILLARS were delicacies for the birds: 170710 hairy caterpillars Subbu pointed out that very often, Sunbirds make their nests in the nests of SOCIAL SPIDERS: subbu near social spiders' nest We spotted this jewelled beauty, which Subbu id'd as a CETONID BEETLE (Karthik says its common name is LEAF CHAFER): cetonid  bug 170710 kalkere even the children were enchanted by the camouflage of the STICK INSECT: stick insect 170710 Here it is: stick insect kalkere One of my fellow birders held this MILLIPEDE spiralling into itself, for me to photograph! kalkere millipede 170710 Subbu took off the top of one of the living TERMITE NESTS and showed us the structures inside: termite nest top taken off 170710 he explained how the temperature was maintained at a constant level inside, and showed us the beautiful entrance channels: termite nest top showing entrances 170710 He gave a delightful short dissertation on termites, the males, the queen, and the lifespan of such nests. We were entranced by this beautiful caterpillar, which Karthik tells me is that of the BLUE TIGER butterfly: blue mormon caterpillar170710 Another beauty was this SIX-SPOT GROUND BEETLE: six spot ground beetle 170710 Karthik cautioned us about the creatures powerful mandibles, which could deliver a painful bite, but Subbu expertly picked it up...and Karthik allowed me to take a pic of those mandibles, holding a twig! beetle mandibles 170710 Uma showed me this pupal case of a DRAGONFLY: pupa case of dragonfly At the end of the walk I suddenly found all the cameras out again..and realized we were walking into a "field" of GIANT WOOD SPIDERS: photographing the wood spiders 170710 We had to walk carefully, to avoid walking into a web....I joked that this was the cyberspace area of Kalkere as there were so many websites. Here's one: giant wood spider 170710 We also found a lot of MUSHROOMS, ALGAE and FUNGUS on our ramble. Here's Karthik taking his usual trouble (with some help from Raju!) to capture a mushroom: SK capturing mushroom Here's the mushroom, (it was so small, I could hardly see it!) karthik's mushroom Karthik tapped open this PUFFBALL MUSHROOM and explained how it would propogate millions of spores: puffball mushroom 170710 The moss formed bright and soft patches of brilliant green all over, and at the rock pool, MBK encouraged everyone to touch the algae in the pond and feel it. I loved the beauty of the moss on this tree-trunk: moss on treetrunk As we were having chai right at the end of the ramble, I enjoyed the abstract pattern of the moss between the bricks, worthy of any painting! moss among the bricks 170710 Meanwhile, Rohit Girotra has also put up a few photographs online... here is the link to Rohit's photographs...thanks, Rohit! If you see his pics, you'll realize just why the particular dragonfly he's photographed, is called the Granite Ghost!

It was amazing how each person spotted something different, and all of us benefited from the knowledge that our guides imparted to us. It was a most enjoyable way of learning!

Alas, I was too busy eating, when we all stopped for a variety of snacks during the walk…but my thanks to everyone who took care of the rumble in everyone’s tummies, with a variety of goodies!

One of the highlights of the walk was Chandu (who, with a few of us, has been active in doing the Bannerghatta birdwalks for the children of the area) calling from Boise, Idaho, to find out how the walk was going. Chandu, we missed you very, very much!

Though we had started out as separate groups, we all met up in the middle of the forest area, and it was a most enjoyable and pleasant morning. Some of us later had breakfast together at Adigas, where MBK, at Karthik’s request, showed us his famous “sugar trick” (link sent on request!) and a few of us came over to my place where we looked at our photographs and teased each other a little more!


Let me close with this image of MBK at the rock pool….which tells me that I must, er, reflect on all that I learnt on the outing, and process the information into knowledge.

mbk reflection rock pool

Thank you, bngbirds, for a very informative, educational, and fun-filled outing to Kalkere. I now have three mottoes….ASK (Ask S. Karthikeyan), KKP (Krishna Ko Pakdo), and SSP (Subbu Se Poocho)….to increase my knowledge about Nature!