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Lion-tailed Macaques, Valparai, 18-200414

On Good Friday, Anjali, Gopal, Rohan, Tharangini, Yeshoda and I went to

Valparai

in the aNNAmalai range (Coimbatore district) in Tamil Nadu.

The

LION-TAILED MACAQUE

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was one of the several creatures we hoped to see on our trip to Valparai. The lion-tailed macaque (Macaca silenus), or the wanderoo, is an Old World monkey endemic to the Western Ghats of South India.

The hair of the lion-tailed macaque is black. Its outstanding characteristic is the silver-white mane which surrounds the head from the cheeks down to its chin, which gives this monkey its German name Bartaffe – “beard ape”

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it lives in hierarchical groups of usually 10 to 20 animals, which consist of few males and many females. It is a territorial animal, defending its area first with loud cries towards the invading troops.

It primarily eats indigenous fruits, leaves, buds, insects and small vertebrates in virgin forest, but can adapt to rapid environmental change in areas of massive selective logging through behavioural modifications and broadening of food choices to include fruits, seeds, shoots, pith, flowers, cones, mesocarp, and other parts of many nonindigenous and pioneer plants.

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The lion-tailed macaque ranks among the rarest and most threatened primates. Their range has become increasingly isolated and fragmented by the spread of agriculture and tea, coffee, teak and cinchona, construction of water reservoirs for irrigation and power generation, and human settlements to support such activities. They did not, in the past live, feed or travel through plantations, but this behaviour has changed.

Destruction of their habitat and their avoidance of human proximity have led to the drastic decrease of their population.

Here’s one swinging about on the wire:

It then proceeds to lick the raindrops off the leaves of the plant:

I loved watching this mother and child:

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Gestation is approximately six months. The young are nursed for one year. Sexual maturity is reached at four years for females, and six years for males. The life expectancy in the wild is approximately 20 years

Here’s a small, funny incident as a macaque jumps up as something bothers it, and starts running away:

Here’s one eating the seeds from the seed pod of the Spathodea (African Tulip), which is an exotic tree:

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I took a little more…

This troop of Macaques did forage and travel through the coffee plantation. They did not disturb us, and we did not disturb them.

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Here are a group, enjoying themselves (yes, that’s what I feel!) in the evening:

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David Frye (seen here, posing with all the wildlife on sale at the Zoo) is a birder from Detroit, and the previous week we had taken him to Hoskote Lake. We had a good time, too!

In the zoo, we hunted for this

GREAT PIED HORNBILL

all over the cage, and finally found him right next to us, huddling in the corner of the cage (not distressed at all!) and looking at us with a beady eye.

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We saw a

JUNGLE MYNA

trying, literally, to feather its nest:

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This

TICKELL’S BLUE FLYCATCHER

deighted us:

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The

GULMOHAR or the MAYFLOWER

had started blooming:

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The flowers of the

RAIN TREE

looked lovely, too.

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The Kingfisher Pond (I was very happy to hear the guard in charge of boating call it by this name, and say, “A naturalist has named it!”) looked green and peaceful:

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Here’s David, documenting something:

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I couldn’t id this tree:

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the

QUEEN’S FLOWER

is another tree in full bloom everywhere now:

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A

GARDEN LIZARD

displayed its scales:

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Chandu and David walk down Flycatcher Avenue:

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See the beauty of Flycatcher Avenue:

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This is the only SMS I could get of the

GREY-BELLIED CUCKOO:

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This

PALE-BILLED FLOWERPECKER

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looked quite greedy as it took a whole Singapore Cherry in its mouth (but it only sucked at the juice and threw the fruit down.)

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this

PADDYFIELD PIPIT

foraged along the path to the Quarry Pond area:

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perky little bird:

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the

RED-WATTLED LAPWING

made its characteristic “Didyoudoit?” call:

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It was lovely to see the Champaka Dhama temple on top of the sheet rock, from the orchard area:

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a

PENINSULAR ROCK AGAMA (male)

showed its breeding colours:

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This is a very non-green “green” photograph, of broken glass litter left behind by visitors:

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Some of the animals on sale were very realistic!

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We saw these two, with a net and a cage, and we hope they wer
e not going to catch butterflies, because that is illegal:

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Everywhere, the

DARK BLUE TIGERs

were flitting around, on their annual migration:

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David appeared to enjoy his morning, and we gave him a really democratic experience..we took him from my home to the zoo area by one rickety bus and brought him back in an even more rickety one!

Let me close with this close-up of the Queen’s Flower:

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Am mad about Am….

Mangifera Indica-Summer in India

When you’re facing the summer sun
When your skin burns and it’s no fun
To walk in the sunshine, it’s too bright
The summer glare hurts your head and sight…
You’ve got mangoes on your mind….

You pick up the fruit, scattered all round
Or in the market they can be found.
Small and raw, or with golden ripe sheen
Or any of the stages that happen in between,
You’ve got mangoes on your mind….

Made into pickle or eaten with salt
Made into milkshakes or a thick juicy malt
Any of the numerous varieties you get
To crunch, or down your throat the smooth fruit you let
You’ve got mangoes on your mind….


Other times of the year, you may not really see
The beautiful leaves, the bark of this tree
But when the fruit in bunches is hung
About the mangoes paeans are sung!
You’ve got mangoes on your mind….

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Summer is awful, hot and sticky,
About many fruits you’re choosy and picky:
But when it comes to the King, mango…
Into transports of delight you go…
You’ve got mangoes on your mind!

here

are pickles

and

here

is the fruit

Oh, this wonderful delectation…I am an Am aurat, and I am certainly an “Am Admi Paati”!

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Having gone thrice to the zoo area in the course of a week, I was able to see the camp elephants being brought back from their foraging trips in the periphery of the Bannerghatta forest area.

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I must say, I am very impressed with the health of these camp elephants, and their excellent relationships with their mahouts.

They are fed large balls of rAgi (a kind of millet that Karnataka is famous for…Kannadigas love rAgi muddhE, small balls of rAgi flour, with sAmbhAr), every day, and are given enough fodder, too.

As they come back towards the Kingfisher Pond, they seem to love having dust baths. Here are the females, lying down in the dust:

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They are helped by their mahouts…the second one is just about settling down!

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Look at the little one nuzzling up!

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The amount of dust that a female human being would instantly set about cleaning, seems welcome to a female elephant!

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A young one comes along curiously (she’s called Roopa):

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There’s work to be done…this wood has to be carried inside the zoo, but neither youngster is doing to do that (just like humans!)

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The little one, indeed, roots along happily:

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They start walking towards the rear entrance of the zoo:

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Here’s a short video of their gait:

It’s left to the adults to bring the baled wood:

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The elephant’s trunk and mouth are such amazing things!

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Obediently, El Nino follows his mother and aunts:

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Now, it is the turn of the tusker (in India, only male elephants have tusks) to come and settle down:

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Not an appealing sight, the rear of an elephant? I found it quite interesting…

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Because, as the mahout dusted him down, I saw a part of an elephant I’ve never seen before (no, not THAT, you dirty-minded lot!)

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The soles of an elephant’s feet!

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This tusker is called “Vanaraja” (King of the Forest):

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After his dust bath, he headed in the opposite direction, back into the forest periphery:

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Here’s the tusker getting up:

We watched him as he swayed off, majestically:

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After being brought back into the Zoo, they seemed to be very happy in their enclosure:

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Throwing dust over themselves, or dusty stuff, seems to be a way of relaxing:

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The unnamed baby was especially happy, lolling about in the fodder:

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The Sun, Fire, and Outer Space, 050414

As we waited for dusk, so that the Slender Lorises would become active, we were treated to the sight of a beautiful sunset.

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However, as the sun sank, I watched a villager set fire to the edges of his field:

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When I asked him, he said he was burning the Lantana bushes.

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I am still not sure why he had to burn them, but the sun and the flames seemed to compete.

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It seemed that, along with the fires, the whole sky was aflame:

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I watched the fires rage…

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I walked away, down the trail, and watched the moon and stars come into their own:

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Lovely to see out into space, while waiting to see something in our little world!

As I boarded the bus to go and meet my friends (we were going to Nagavalli, in Tumkur District, to sight the Slender Loris, aka kAdupApA), I saw this artwork silhouette of a tree on the bus:

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As we drove into Tumkur district, it struck me more, and more, how beautiful roads look when they are avenues, that is, shaded by trees. So…here are some shots of roads with trees, showing how inviting they can be…you can also see the variety of transport vehicles that we use in our country, which makes our traffic so haphazard and difficult to negotiate!

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Why do we not think of trees as living beings who share this earth with us, and must not be murdered to make more room for us?

Gopal called me and asked if I’d like to go to Nagavalli village, in Tumkur District, where there is a colony of

Slender Lorises .

So off I went, though I had just returned from Hoskote lake!

As I got into the bus to join Gopal and friends, I saw this beautiful piece of artwork on the window!

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Here’s one cyclist, getting a free, if illegal, ride:

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We lost our way and reached Guleharavi, with this beautiful temple:

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The region is so beautiful, with plenty of trees:

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We stopped at Nagavalli village:

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At the High School, a sign about the Slender Loris was put up:

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We had pAni pUri and masAl pUri at this pushcart:

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Mr Gundappa, affectionately known as “Gundappa Master” (he is a teacher in the High School) came and met us.

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He led the way to the place where the Slender Loris could be found.

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This villager looked at us curiously, as we passed:

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Here’s Gundappa Master with us:

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We had arrived too early, and had to wait until dusk. Here we are: Davis, Gopal, Gundappa Master, Samrat and Tharangini:

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The area was beautiful and I walked along the road:

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Gundappa Master had a word or two with the villagers as they passed, including this man bringing his cattle green fodder:

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Meanwhile, I was looking at the birds, and got this

ORIENTAL MAGPIE ROBIN:

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In one field, a scarecrow guarded the crops:

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The sun sank westwards:

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It was gO dhUli lagna…the “hour of cowdust”..when the grazing cattle are brought home:

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As I walked further, I found a farmer setting fire to the area along the road:

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He told me that he was burning Lantana bushes:

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The sun and the fire made a good counterpoint:

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I was a little intrigued about why Lantana bushes should be set fire to at this time, but did not ask further.

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The sun set, shimmering in the heat waves from the fire:

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It seemed the whole sky was aflame:

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Manu, one of Gundappa Master’s assistants, brought us fresh cucumbers to crunch on!

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Meanwhile, Samrat entertained us with various amazing wildlife videos on his mobile:

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We began the walk into the fields to try and sight the “kAdupApA” as it is known locally:

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A half-moon shone overhead, along with the first few stars:

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We followed Gundappa Master as he went around, looking for the elusive mammals:

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We did manage to find two, but the shy creatures immediately retreated into the foliage, so photography was just not possible. We decided not to disturb them too much, and ended the trip into the fields.

On our way back, we saw this Russell’s Viper disappearing into the bushes:

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This brick cottage looked beautiful in the dim moonlight:

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We were happy with our sightings of the kAdupApA (baby of the forest), but decided that trying to see them was certainly causing them some disturbance and distress. So another trip is not likely!

click here

for my first visit to Nagavalli, on Oct 12, 2007, when I got a shot of this beautiful creature:

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For more photos of the evening,

click here

for my FaceBook album.

Gundappa master says that the group has increased in numbers. I will be talking to Ameen Ahmed,of Wildlife And Nature Conservation (WANC) and will find out the facts of this conservation effort.

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Since David Frye, of Detroit, Michigan, had contacted Chandu to go to Hoskote, Thomas, his son Aakash, and I also joined in from south Bangalore.

We crossed the K R Puram bridge as dawn was breaking:

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This palm tree was bouncing an orange ball as we reached the lake:

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The lake was a mirror:

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There were an amazing number of swallows on the “bund” or the shore of the lake.

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Here’s my short video of the surfeit of swallows:

Here are two, preening:

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They sat on the dried-up trees in the lake, too:

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David Frye and Chandu arrived as we were observing the birds:

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I was very impressed with his sketching and documentation:

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Here’s our little group against the morning sun:

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L to R: Chandu, David, Vignesh( who also arrived at the same time), Thomas, and Aakash.

On the lake bed, we found an ex-crab:

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We consulted to get id’s….

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Especially one bird that was a lifer for me, the

COMMON GREENSHANK:

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Meanwhile, Sanjeev Managoli also drove up on his way to his teaching duties, and in his car, I saw this delightful Ganesha, with a laptop and a mouse:

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We took a brefus break, and here are all of us:

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And here’s IVC (Iddli, Vada, Coffee!)

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Suvarchala, Chandu’s wife, had made these delicious gulab jamuns, so we ate them, too:

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For more bird photos,

click here

to go to my FaceBook album of photos taken with the Sony,

and

click here

to go to my FaceBook album of photos taken with the Canon 30D.

I’ll add some photos from the 30D after I upload them to Flickr!

Recently, I found that several of my older friends are unaware of their rights on Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC).So I decided to clarify about this.

Here is confirmation that BMTC offers discounts of 25% to Senior Citizens.

.BMTC cites 60 years, though the Hindu report cites 65 years.

The fact, however, is that most conductors do not give the Senior Citizen discount unless one is aware of one’s rights and asks for it. So…keep your id cards handy, and insist on your right if you are entitled to the discount.

Here’s the extract from the BMTC charter:

***************

iii) Concessional travel facility to Senior Citizens (on tickets and pass rates) a) 25% concession on ticket rates to persons having attained an age of 60 years and above in compliance of Government directions.

b) 10% concession on Monthly Commuter Pass rates to persons having attained an age of 60 years and above. Introduced in the year December 2006 to mark the Golden jubilee of Karnataka.

This scheme is an exclusive initiative of BMTC.

Note : Personal documents such as Voter ID card, Driving license, Pan card, ID card issued by KSRTC etc are honoured for substantiating age claim.

****************

Reservations of seats on buses:

Here’s the extract from the BMTC Charter:

***************

i. Reservation of seats to special categories of commuters eg : ladies, senior citizens, disabled persons.

BMTC keeping in view the constraints faced by traveling women, aged and disabled persons reserves certain number of seats to them in all its ordinary buses to make their journey comfortable. The category wise reservations are as below.

Category No. of seats Ladies 16

Seats in the front portion of all Ordinary buses are earmarked for ladies. These seats are indicated as reserved by exhibiting “Ladies Only” stickers on them.

Senior citizens

6 seats in all ordinary buses are reserved for Senior Citizens – two of the 16 reserved for females are earmarked for senior female commuters and two seats near center door for male senior citizens.

Disabled persons

One seat each near the front and the rear doors in all Ordinary buses and two seats near the middle in Vajra Servicesare reserved for Physically challenged persons. These seats are identified with a notice “Physically Challenged Persons” pasted on the respective windowsills.

******************

The ladies’ seats reservations are, in general, well observed, but the reservations for the physically disabled, and the senior citizens, are a joke. No passenger ever gets up from one of these, and when I request for the Women’s Senior Citizen’s seat for an elderly lady, I have actually been abused by conductors…who are supposed to be the ones who should ask the person occupying the seat to get up, and help a Senior Citizen get the seat reserved for them.

So…Senior Citizens….be aware of your rights, and insist on them when travelling by BMTC.

Here is a short video Abhisheka Gopal and a few of her friends made, about the Malleswaram Central Library:

Do send feedback to

abhishekagopal@gmail.com

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