T G Halli, 260617

June 27, 2017

A last-minute decision, and six of us, including a birder from Noida, Delhi, who will be moving to Bangalore in a while…off we went, in the predawn dark, to T G Halli Reservoir.

Padma Ramaswamy, Akhilesh Sharma, G S Ramaswamy, Y S Prasanna, Sudha Mahalingam


It’s getting harder for me to categorize these outings as birding trips, as there is always so much more to observe and enjoy. Just watching the lush greenery that has sprung up after the rains, with the waters reflecting the scudding monsoon clouds, lifts the heart and brings such joy.


IMG_6220 As we descended towards the water, we were stopped, literally in our tracks, by a Pioneer bush. This was one where the leaves had all been stripped away by the caterpillars of the Pioneer butterfly, IMG_6327 IMG_6182 which had then pupated on the branches and twigs. IMG_6183 Many of the butterflies had just emerged or were emerging... IMG_6201 IMG_6199 and those which had taken on their new form were flittering around the bush. We could not help watching this dance of new life for a while. There was also a bird's nest in the middle of the bush. IMG_6193 As we walked along the banks of the reservoir, the birds did not disappoint us, either. Beautiful little Indian Silverbills made music scores on the wires. IMG_6212 Spot-blilled Pelicans, which are now resident birds, floated on the surface, IMG_6221 ...as did Little Grebes and Common Coots. Cormorants...Little, Great, and the distinctive Indian...flew and swam around, occasionally diving beneath the surface in search of food. Ashy-crowned Sparrow Larks IMG_6230 and Tawny Larks IMG_6248 flitted about the landscape. Ashy Prinias went about picking up prey and going to their nests. IMG_6266 A Little Ringed Plover sat on a mud flat. IMG_6255 Since it is the time of year when we can only see RBI (Resident Birds of India!), we watched two Spot-billed Ducks, and a Clamorous Reed Warbler. However, some Tawny Larks, flitting about, a Whte-browed Wagtail behaving according to its name, added to our list, as did this White-browed Bulbul. IMG_6214 At one point, the sounds were much more than the actual sight of the birds! The Common Hawk Cuckoo called its complaint of "brain-feeever!", Tailorbirds, Flowerpeckers (presumably the common Pale-billed variety) and Sunbirds added their calls, Grey Francolins and Red-wattled Lapwings (we did see some later) punctuated the general bird song with their phrases, too. We heard the trilling calls of the Green Bee-eaters long before we saw any. Both the woodland and the water birds continued to delight us as we walked along. At two spots, active colonies of Baya Weaver nests were being constructed. IMG_6304 We watched these residential layouts taking shape, and also being inspected by the prospective owners (is there a word such as "owneress"? as the inspectors were the ladies!) IMG_6305 Flying between the nesting tree and the thorny date palm behind, the birds kept us quite occupied. IMG_6311 It was business as usual for the contract fishermen on the lake. IMG_6267 The birding was interrupted by more "buttering" (as Rohit Girotra says, if birdwatching is birding, then butterfly-watching is buttering!) as Pioneers, Crows, various Blues, Pansies, and others flew about us, mud-puddling and also basking in the weak sunshine.It's not often that one gets to photograph the Blue butterflies with their wings open, and we made the most of the opportunity. Forget-me-not IMG_6330 Blue Pansy IMG_6253 Plains Cupid IMG_6343 Common Banded Awl IMG_6225 Indian Skipper IMG_6342 Grass Yellow IMG_6229 Common Leopard IMG_6350 We observed some insects, too, such as this Blister Beetle IMG_6210 this Green Marsh Hawk Dragonfly IMG_6367 and this Jewel Bug IMG_6287 this caterpillar IMG_6419 a Day-flying Handmaiden Moth IMG_6426 Even the common Housefly can be beautiful up close! IMG_6274 But a further treat awaited us a little further. Two juvenile Green Bee-eaters, which have, apparently, not (yet) developed any fear of humans, sat quite close to the path, and flew around us as they hawked insects from the air. Their plumage, much duller than that of the adults, allowed them to melt into the foliage of the tree they sat in. IMG_6373 We walked a little further, expecting them to fly off to a distance...but they did not. All of us had goofy smiles on our faces as they flew about our heads, and landed on twigs quite close to us! IMG_6396 Here's a full-frame shot of one of them. IMG_6404 If only all birds,and indeed, all wild creatures, could be (safely)thus free of the fear of humans...well, for a little while, we were in that Utopia! Just when we thought of turning back, a nice "zebra-backed" Hoopoe, foraging along the ground, IMG_6382 kept us there for a while longer... IMG_6399 Reluctantly, we turned back on the path, heading back towards the chores and commitments that awaited us back home. The wildflowers were lovely too. The Water Hyacinth, an ornamental which is now choking up our waterways as an invasive pest, still has lovely flowers: IMG_6270 The Cleome had begun to blossom: IMG_6281 Commelina flowers made bright sparkles underfoot. IMG_6306 IMG_6308 But the scenes. of the cloudy, cool morning on the reservoir will surely be in our mind's eyes, recharging our souls and getting us through the stresses and strains of our mundane weekdays...We wished every devout Muslim citizen Id Mubarak, as we went home. Oh...the food? Since we were in a rush, we did not stop for the usual post-trip brefus, but we did have fun eating Padma's sandwiches, and some of the sweets I'd brought from the wedding I attended on Sunday. The eBird list (and an impressive one it is, too, for a "summer" outing!) is here and I've put up my photographs of the trip on an FB album here Birders: Akhilesh Padma/Ramaswamy Prasanna Sudha (from NOIDA) and I Butterflies: Awl, Common Banded Blues, various (the experts are still disagreeing over the up-wing photos of some of those I clicked, so I will stop with that, instead of going into Gram, Grass, Pea and so on!) Baronet Cerulean, Common Coster, Tawny Cupid, Plains Emigrant, Common Emigrant, Mottled Forget-me-not Gull, Common Jezebel, Common Leopard, Common Lime,Common Mormon, Common Pansy, Blue Pansy, Chocolate Pansy, Lemon Pioneer Rose, Common Rose, Crimson Sunbeam, Indian Skipper, Indian Tiger, Plain Yellow, Common Grass Yellow, Three-spot Grass

Already looking forward to the next weekend and what it may bring,