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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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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Mumbai parody

We often wish things for ourselves and our cities that may be wild dreams. I came across this entertaining parody of sorts. Pictures with a “desired” (or undesired) location caption. One needs to be familiar with Mumbai to get the essence of the creativity. No offence intended. Pictures / links from Twitter.

Enjoy!

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Sustainable decentralised waste management

This article about the Solid and Liquid Resource Management (SLRM) model of waste management has been published on Citizen Matters, Mumbai. In two parts, it can be read on these two links:
> Let’s not waste ‘waste’: In pursuit of the ideal waste management solution
> COVID-19 lockdown: how waste segregation methods derailed in one Mumbai township

Image source: harmony1.com
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The importance of urban wildlife

From a distance, they look like a whole lot of black plastic garbage bags blown into the trees by a strong gust of wind. As darkness falls, one can see their arms unfold and they take off, flying between the multi-storied buildings in our Lokhandwala Township. As you have probably gathered, I’ve spent quite a few hours over the last few years watching these bats, amazed at their human-like mannerisms. Or maybe it’s the other way, where human vampires mimic bats.

Bats
Like black plastic garbage bags on the trees (Pic taken in Feb 2013)

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Electricity bill shocks

scared of light

Electricity bills have been soaring. With many of us staying home 24×7, it is quite expected that electricity consumption would be more compared to when we were going to work, going to school and going out in general.

Electricity distribution companies were unable to take meter readings during lockdown, so they were issuing estimated bills. The result was that people got shocks when they started receiving their bills after meter readings. Wrong readings? Unfair calculations?

I’ve tried to explain why the bills seem overtly high, how you can raise grievances and tips to minimise power usage. Read my post on mumbai.citizenmatters.in here.

The last 100 days

Half of 2020 gone, and over half of this under lockdown/unlock with restrictions. Yesterday July 2, was the 100th day of lockdown that started nation-wide on March 25 in India. how lockdown feels now

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Back to work

Tomorrow, Monday 8th June, it will be back to work in an office environment for many. Mumbai is allowing upto 10% of the workforce to be present in offices, though work from home and staggering of working hours has been recommended. Religious places, restaurants, malls are all set to open too. People are free to get back the services of their household helpers, subject to approval by the societies/resident welfare associations where they live.

practicals

waiting to go back
Waiting to go back to work!

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