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:
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:
and to the Forest Guards, of whom I was able to photograph Kuppiah and Shankar:
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:
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!
here's just one shot of the beautiful scenery that we walked through:
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
(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.)
SMALL GREEN BARBET
was sitting rather far away, but was at least photographable in the grey, dim light...
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
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
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
as the plant has a scent similar to sandalwood:
Subbu picked some of these delicious
berries for us, and told us how birds feast upon them (so did I!)
These bushes had beautiful flowers, but were also infected with
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!
MBK asked us to look at this flowering tree, but alas, I never found out what it was, hoping to be enlightened now!
Karthik pointed out this beautiful
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!
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!)
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!
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
was a landmark for them:
We found this piece of
which this gemmologist (do give your name!) identified:
We had an interesting discussion about quartz and agate!
Even s*&t is interesting in Nature...these are the droppings of a
(there are no "rabbits" in India, technically!)
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
we were enchanted by the beauty of this
GREEN LYNX SPIDER:
Subbu showed us this pupa of the
We were also told that these
were delicacies for the birds:
Subbu pointed out that very often, Sunbirds make their nests in the nests of
We spotted this jewelled beauty, which Subbu id'd as a
CETONID BEETLE (Karthik says its common name is LEAF CHAFER):
even the children were enchanted by the camouflage of the
Here it is:
One of my fellow birders held this
spiralling into itself, for me to photograph!
Subbu took off the top of one of the living
and showed us the structures inside:
he explained how the temperature was maintained at a constant level inside, and showed us the beautiful entrance channels:
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:
Another beauty was this
SIX-SPOT GROUND BEETLE:
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!
Uma showed me this pupal case of a
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:
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.
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:
Here's the mushroom, (it was so small, I could hardly see it!)
Karthik tapped open this
and explained how it would propogate millions of spores:
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:
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!
Meanwhile, Rohit Girotra has also put up a few photographs online...
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.
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!