Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Winter months

Most of us urban folks in the North, spend the winter months, tucked in cozy quilts filled with fine cotton, eating “makki ki roti and saag” and showing off designer woolens which are taken out for the few cold months.

Wrapped in a woolen shawl, comfortable in a closed car traveling up the mountains, the windscreen in front of the car suddenly showed up fellow trotters on the road.

Hundreds of sheep and goat with tending shepherds, watch dogs and carry mules occupied the road ahead. While clicking the pictures, I also started to wonder what we would do without the warmth provided by the wool on the back of these animals.

Reaching back to our village home, I took a walk in the fields. The bright sun shone during the day, streaming in through the pure mountain sky. It seemed to reassure everyone that "all is well" with the world. The foggy air and grey skies of the city were soon forgotten.

A pretty jezebel danced on the flowers, soon followed by a blue tiger and a high brown silverspot(?)

Butterflies I had not set my eyes on in Gurgaon. Here, in this small Himalayan village, they merged with everyday life.

So did the beautiful plum headed parakeets which descended in hundreds to peck on the grains thrown in the front yard. There were wagtails, tree pies, jungle crows, mynahs, white cheeked bulbuls and sparrows vying for the grains.

But when the parakeets landed as if on cue, all the others stepped back and here is the pretty picture they made.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Need to conserve water to save wildlife

Need to conserve water to save wildlife and stop desertification-Listen to an audio clip by clicking on the link.

Mansoor Khan from Bilaspur is talking about the need of wildlife conservation. He says water is the most important link for it. We need to save water. If we allow the rain water to flow to sea and continue to take out ground water at such a speed then we are inviting deserts. We need to stop cutting of trees. If you want to save tiger then you will also have to save sambar, its prey, he says, who is dependent on trees and entire nature and environment.

CGNet Swara

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Kanha National Park

Here is a very economical offer to visit Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh!

Three days standard itinerary

2 Nights/ 3 days stay charges


Meals (Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner)

Pick up and drop facility from Gondia Station and back

Two visits to Kanha National Park

Rs 18400/- per batch of six persons

This offer is courtesy Kanha Village Camp

Sunday, July 11, 2010


Feral cats are descended from domestic cats but are born and live without human contact. Any environment that sustains people can sustain feral cats, who are known to have thrived in urban, suburban, and rural areas in all parts of the civilized world.

Feral cats may be apex predators in some local ecosystems.

Feral cats can be effective hunters of small animals.

Felidae is the biological family of the cats. Felids are the carnivores. The most familiar felid is the domestic cat, which first became associated with humans about 10,000 years ago, but the family includes all other wild cats including the Tiger.

With the above background knowledge, when I saw mother cat training the younger one in the art of holding a prey down, I had to record the event even if it meant shooting through a glass!

See the video at

Cats can be wild too! Feral cats are descended from domestic cats but are born and live without human contact. Cats belong to the family ' felids', with strong, flexible bodies, quick reflexes, sharp retractable claws, and teeth adapted to killing small prey.
Here the mother cat is teaching its young one how to hold on to prey just caught. The play of motherly affection interspersed with strict injunctions made this video interesting. This was shot through a glass partition separating the lawn from my house.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

To help or not to help....

When I photographed this plump larva on the small lime plant, I had visions of it metamorphosing into a beautiful lime butterfly.

Two days later I saw that a group of babblers had entered the garden and were busy scouting for food with their sharp eyes focused on plants like a search light. Watching from the kitchen, my first thought was "should I drive them away, because I could see that there is little chance of the lime larvae escaping attention.

Then the thought came "Who am I to play God, after all the babbler has as much of a right to live as the larva. So I watched.

Sure enough, within minutes, the loudest and and biggest babbler had got his prize-a plump green larva in his beak- the very same one which I was waiting to see the transformation into a lime butterfly. All visions of the flitting butterfly crushed in a moment!

Few days later

This white eye chick has just fallen from its nest. It is so motionless, yet a mild quiver of the body says it is alive. I resist an urge to pick it up and put it on a nearby tree. Soon I hear the frantic parents on another tree.

White eyes are usually very muted in their songs-one has to strain the ears to hear them while they are foraging. But just now the parent birds were ballistic- flying about and chirping continuously. Again I watched from a distance.

As if motivated by the coaxing of the parents, the chick flew a short distance. The coaxing continued and the chirping shriller.

About half hour later, I found the chick had managed reaching the nearest bush-a jasmine plant. It kept sitting there while the parents came with morsels of food.

So this story ended happily- it was clear that the chick had overcome the fall and was on its way to start life again.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

It is hot 40 degrees plus in May

garden lizard

Weather has been rather unpredictable-with temperatures going up almost every day with brief preludes of showers. Much like the chameleon who is half rusty and half brown, we have got used to the hot and hotter days interspersed with mild showers.

The butterfly population has been low, with the rare specimens making a brief appearance immediately after a shower. I was surprised to see the striped tiger resting on my chinese orange plant one day. Last year I had spotted plain tiger butterflies but not the striped one. Nature never fails to amaze in my small back garden!

Striped tiger butterfly

The newly born (?) butterfly also appeared immediately after a rain

unidentified butterfly

The blue jays are not yet seen here though I am sure they are just waiting in the wings for the right temperature in the environment.

The cackling babblers appear in large numbers every morning and I have a vague suspicion that many larvae are ending up as food for these sharp eyed birds.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

World Housesparrow Day

Why celebrate a house sparrow day? Because, the lowly but sturdy sparrows are a good indicator of bio diversity and their decline in urban areas is proof that we have succumbed to chemical fertilizers and pesticides, not only in agricultural fields which are around us but also in the small kitchen gardens next to our homes.

20th March 2010 was celebrated as the first Worldhousesparrowday. Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dixit unveiled a nest box for sparrows made by "NatureForever" while Mr. Asad Rahmani of BNHS looked on.

That the Chief Minister of Delhi spared time for the cause is proof that organic gardens in and around our homes must show the way for sparrows. The CM herself has converted the compound of her bungalow to a "Green Canopy" open to public for nature trails. Fruit bats outside the CM's house kept a caophony going at the inaugural function held at her residence.

Write-up about fruit bats at the interpretation Centre at 3, Motilal Nehru Place

Mrs. Barack Obama hosting organic lunches for children from produce of her kitchen garden made news recently. Realization is dawning worldwide that we need to say no to chemical fertilizers and pesticides, to protect ourselves, if not the sparrows. Sparrows are but an indicator of what is in store for our future generations.

The vermi compost pit

Sheila Dixit's organic garden

Ms Lima Rosalind explaining the digital kiosk at the interpretation centre to a visitor.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Viewpoint of a green barbet

We, barbets are great at home building. Apart from finding something to eat, pecking a hole on the tree keeps us occupied for the best part of our life. (After all we are related to the famous woodpeckers!)

When this neat hole on a wild neem tree was complete, we had reason to be proud of our handy work. We managed raising two broods inside during the summer months and our chicks are now grown up and flying about on their own.

During winter, we normally fly away to warmer climes, what are wings for anyway.
It seemed appropriate to rent out our premises to other needy folks. But look at what the ants have made of it. They are really dirty housekeepers.

When the squirrels came and cleaned up the mess, we were happy. The squirrel kids were snug and warm for the winter. Not one but two families lived inside.

The parakeets need a spacious bungalow and are now checking out the squirrel home. We barbets are sitting on the fence and watching the fight between the parakeet and the squirrel.

Hey, but why is the tree looking shrivelled up? The squirrels have been extending the house illegally from inside, eating away the sap inside.

Looking at the withering tree, we know that it will not be able to weather the next winter storm. May be it is time for us to move on to another tree!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Spring Again!

At last the cold winter of 2010 is on its way out and spring is here again. The redstart which heralded winter for us, is all set to disappear to higher plains till the weather beckons again.

The nasturium flower smiling at the sun gives itself completely to the grass blue butterfly.

A peacock balances itself on the wall as the clouds proclaim a mild shower coming.