Bandipur diaries 3

Apart from the carnivorous tigers and leopards, and the hundreds of elephants, Bandipur has many other animals that are necessary for survival of the forest ecosystem, and its quite exciting to see them in their natural habitat.

Safari bus
A safari bus in the Bandipur forest
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Bandipur diaries 2

“Any sighting today?” is a common question after a jungle safari. By “sighting” one usually means the tiger. In our desire to spot the tiger in Bandipur, we often overlook the amazing smaller creatures.

The vast Jungle Lodges & Resorts (JLR) campus itself is home to many birds. On our arrival, we could hear the distinct chirp of the sunbirds as they hopped all over the banyan tree at the entrance.

Purple-rumped sunbirds
Purple-rumped sunbirds
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Bandipur diaries 1

Bandipur Forest has been a family favourite ever since my children were little. We usually drove to Bandipur from Bangalore, pausing at Mysore for a break on the way. The last couple of times though, we took the train to Mysore, and then road (either bus or taxi) to Jungle Lodges and Resorts (JLR) at Bandipur, where we always stay. From Mysore, the bus service to Ooty is very convenient with the bus halting, on request, right at the gate of JLR.

This new year, we were fortunate to be able to go for a couple of days during the week just before Sankranti (12th-14th Jan 2023), and off the peak holiday season, when there are fewer visitors to JLR and Bandipur Tiger Reserve / National Park.

About Bandipur Tiger Reserve board at JLR
Board at JLR
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Open wells in the city

Open well to be dug? Recharge well? Desilting for your well?
Call Muniraju at 9620008709.

Muniraju and his team of well-diggers in Bangalore
Muniraju and his team of well-diggers, March 2022

In my earlier post Woes of suction pumps on BWSSB water lines I wrote about how humans can create water shortage problems for other humans, through selfishness and greed. We have experienced living in the city with uncertainty about water. We have encountered situations of no water, even if we are willing to pay the sky for it.

Currently we are fortunate to be getting a good supply of corporation water (from the Cauvery River), but often reminded about the stories of how cities can go dry in the foreseeable future.

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Glasgow and climate change

The world’s eyes are on Glasgow, the city of James Watt, where the future will be decided.

It was in Glasgow, in 1776, that James Watt introduced the world’s first* steam engine, an engineering marvel that set the ball of industrialisation rolling, leading to the current pollution woes we are all hoping to fix.

[* Watt’s engine was really an improvement on the Newcomen engine that was already invented.]

From Berlin 1995, our leaders and the United Nations have been trying to save the world. The climate change conferences held almost every year since then (twice in some years) are great occasions to be seen and make plans. As we have realised, things have only got worse, and today we need a dinosaur to make us think about how we should live our lives so that there is a future for the human race.

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Purple pursuits

World Migratory Bird Day is celebrated twice a year, on the second weekend of May and October, to raise awareness of migratory birds and the need for international cooperation to conserve them. So today, 9th October, is the day. Migratory birds are a clear example of how the world is so closely connected and how everyone plays a role in conserving our ecosystems. Something happening in the harsh cold of Europe can affect us here in India, through the passage of these resilient creatures. We currently haven’t encountered any of the migratory birds in our limited urban space in Kandivali East, but realise that our local resident birds are very important too, and we must ensure that we do not destroy their habitats.

When you think purple, which birds come to mind? Having lived near a lake in Bangalore, the Purple Heron and Purple Swamphen are the ones I immediately used to think of. These days, it’s the Purple-rumped Sunbird (Leptocoma zeyonica), found only in the Indian sub-continent, and a resident of our park.

Distribution of purple-rumped sunbird
(Source: Wikipedia)

Tiny at just about 10 cm, and very light, weighing about 10 grams, the sunbirds are delight to watch – if you can keep track of them.

Purple-rumped Sunbird
The male is very colourful, appearing in different shades as the sun shines on it – purple above the tail (which is how it gets its name), maroon, red, brown, green, blue, black, yellow, white.
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Butterflies in our complex

[This post was updated with new sightings till December 2021. A total of 38 species were identified.]

All of us have surely encountered butterflies at some point in time (apart from the butterflies in our stomachs!). We learn about them in primary school. Sometimes they fly into us and make us jump. Often we see them just flutter by, so quick that we can’t even give them a second glance.

Ever since lockdown, we haven’t really been anywhere in Mumbai. No restaurants, no malls, no parks – except for the park in our Whispering Palms Complex, that is usually quite empty. Over the last few months during our daily walks, we looked forward to seeing the different birds in our backyard. More recently though, we noticed the many different butterflies – not surprising, given the sprawling gardens with abundance of trees and flowers, some wild and some nurtured.

Great Eggfly butterfly
Great Eggfly male sucking out nectar
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Let the lions roar!

During our childhood, we regularly went to Mysore from Bangalore. We would usually stay at the Mysore Sports Club, where the early morning roars of the lions and trumpeting of the elephants of the Mysore Zoo, would wake us up. The visit to the zoo was the highlight of every trip, and sometimes we would go more than once.

Sometime in 1975 probably, the zoo had three Asiatic Lion cubs (Panthera leo persica) and they had been left to roam in the open, with light chains. Everyone was very excited to see them so close up. I think I had to hold my little brother to stop him from running to play with the cats.

Lion cubs at Mysore Zoo (circa 1975)
Asiatic Lion cubs at Mysore Zoo (circa 1975)
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Birds in our backyard

One of my earlier posts was about some of the purple and pink flowers currently seen in our Whispering Palms Complex. Where there are trees and flowers, there will be birds and other living creatures!

Over the last few weeks we’ve been trying to catch some afternoon sun between the rains, and in the process, we’ve become more aware of the presence of the birds in the campus. The silence during lockdown has made the bird sounds more audible and we try to search them out in the direction of their calls. Many of the birds have their favourite trees and branches, so these days, we look out for them at the same spots, and usually they’re somewhere around there. [Now we know how the guides on jungle safaris know exactly where to stop to show you certain animals.]

Some of the birds sit still for extended periods of time, and even if they fly off, they return to the same place. Like the Coppersmith Barbet that allowed me to go all the way back home to pick up my camera.

Coppersmith barbet
Coppersmith barbet
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Purples and pinks

During our daily afternoon walks, we can’t but notice the hundreds of types of flowers just within our campus. Some have been specifically planted and are lovingly nurtured, but there are many that don’t need any special attention. Just the rain and sun.

The basic construct of a flower is pretty standard, but flowers are found in a variety of sizes, shapes, scents and shades. The range of colours is quite amazing, and this, along with the fragrance, is what attracts birds and insects (and humans as well) to flowers. While the green in flowers comes from chlorophyll, the other colours come from two classes of pigments – anthocyanins and carotenoids. The purples and pinks are a result of anthocyanins.

Here are some of the purples and pinks in varying shades in our campus.

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