Monday, May 23, 2011

Nature trip to Elephanta Island, 22nd May

After a longish period of no outings to fan my desire to see more of nature and specially birds, I finally went with the BNHS to Elephanta Island, where we went on a trail that cuts through the native village that is located on the island, looking for and hearing several birds and other living and non-living wonders of nature. This trip coincided with an important family function, but I decided to go anyway, mentally prepared to leave early if the trip lasted beyond half past eleven a.m.

I left home at half past six, reaching the BNHS office a little before 7 o'clock. There were very few enthusiasts when I reached, but they collected over the next half hour, and when we finally left for the Gateway of India (from where a ferry boat would take us to Elephanta Island (locally known as Gharapuri islands), the group of eager bird watchers and nature lovers had swelled to over 35 persons, some of them old faces, while the rest were new. Our guides for the trip would be Mr. Vandan Jhaveri and Mr. Vithoba Hegde. While the former is someone I have been with in many of the previous outings, Mr.Hegde is actually a taxidermist with the BNHS but today fulfilled the role of a field guide.

Within a few minutes of hitting the trail, we saw our first bird, viz. the red-whiskered bulbul. From then on, the next two hours saw us trying to spot, seeing and learning to identify many birds, the complete list of which is at the bottom of this post.

We started our return at about 11:30 a.m. and reached the jetty a little before 12 noon. We were quickly bundled into a boat, but the sea was choppy, and hence the return trip took a little over 1 1/2 hours. I touched the stones at Gateway a little before 2:00 p.m.

Okay, so I made new friends, among whom Meghna Kashte, Apoorva Rao, Amogh Wagh and Akshata Par are people whom I talked with and acquainted myself. And of course, I had my FIRST sightings of the Red-wattled Lapwing, Spot-billed ducks, Little Grebes, and some more feathered friends.

To see the photos, please visit this link.

Here is a list of the birds we saw: .

Oriental Magpie Robin
Red-wattled Lapwing
Spot-billed Duck
Black Kite
Little Grebe
Little Egret
Great Egret
Indian Pond Heron
Yellow sparrow (Petronia)
Red-whiskered Bulbul
Black-headed Ibis
Purple-rumped sunbird
Asian Hornbill (some of the others saw this, but I missed it)
Common Iora (only heard)
Common Tailor bird (only heard)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Backyard: Two birds and a butterfly

I have been away from nature-watching for over two to three weeks, and as a result, I decided to watch outside my window, carefully, and see if I could, anything worth recording. I wasn't disappointed! Yesterday, I stepped out of my home in the afternoon, armed with my Canon DSLR 550D primed with the zoom lens, and waited, waited and waited, till the COPPERSMITH BARBET couple rewarded me with a very close look as they flitted from one low branch to another, of the giant Tamarind tree that graces our compound's terrace garden.  I kept taking pictures, and they kept obliging with one pose after another. Here are the best of the lot:
These photos are of two birds, but I cannot tell one from the other. Both of them kept much to each other, separated barely by a few feet. They kept at this dance for nearly 10 minutes, before deciding to pull the curtains down on their show and fly away.
The Coppersmith Barbet is a Sparrow minus sized bird that looks colourful and very attractive. Its call, the repetitive tuk, tuk, tuk, can be heard in most parts of Western India, and particularly in Mumbai, on almost all mornings , especially in summer, which is its breeding season. The call resembles the sound made by a copper smith as he beats the sheet of copper in his copper smithy. A resident bird, it belongs to the family of whiskered "barbets". Recently, it was voted as the "Bird of Mumbai" in an online poll, where it was pitted against the ubiquitous house crow and the rock pigeon.                                                              
 Okay, so here I was, happy to have done some nice watching, capturing etc. done on my camera. Today, I was getting ready to leave for the day, when I saw movement outside my bedroom window. There were at least three birds, possibly the same species, that were moving among the leaves of the tree right in front of me. Then, I got my first good look at the bird that floated on to the exposed branch of the tree. It was either a black headed munia, or, wait ... could it be the PURPLE-RUMPED SUNBIRD? It was! I ran inside the room and fetched the camera to take pictures. The birds obliged, and I clicked, first one, then the other, then the third ... They stayed for about 3 minutes, but I got my snaps, and also my positive identification. They were, indeed, purple-rumped sunbirds. Here are the photos.

The Purple-rumped sunbird is a sparrow-minus sized bird that feeds on nectar from flowers. While the male is colourful, the female is relatively less remarkable. Uttering brief and repetitive chirps (not more than 4-5 in each burst, though), the bird is a delight to watch.

I also took some photos of a bunch or two of flowers, and a species of butterfly that I do not recognise, while it sat upon some leaves, unmoving, doing what butterflies do best. Here are the few pictures that passed the grade for publishing on this blog: 

 I will post a little more about the birds featured in this post at a later date. In the meantime, do leave your comments about the photos and the overall presentation of this post. Thank you.

For links to the two birds in the post, go here and here.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

10 Good Reasons To Not Live Near Relatives

Occasionally we may have the opportunity to live close to some of our relatives. It could be our parents or a sibling. Or it may be members of your extended family, such as aunts and uncles, or cousins. Living close to our relatives is not always a positive thing. Here are ten reasons why such a choice can have negative results.

Privacy – If you have relatives living in your neighborhood, they are more likely to pay more attention to what you do or don’t do, than the average neighbor. They are also more likely to share that information with other relatives, as well.

Interference – For some reason, relatives are more likely to give unrequested advice on how you should live your life or raise your children. Having relatives nearby can mean unwanted interference in your personal life.

Expectations – When you live close to relatives, you can’t use distance as an excuse for not spending time with them. There may be a greater expectation of involvement in their lives because of your close proximity.

Appreciation – ‘Absence makes the heart grow fonder’ is the old saying. When relatives are located nearby, we often don’t appreciate our time with them as much as we would if our access to them was more limited.

Holidays – There can be expectations on their part or your part, that you will spend holidays together, because of living near each other. This expectation can cause misunderstandings and friction when both families don’t share that same expectation.

Birthdays – Having relatives who live close by can mean lots of birthdays where you are either expected to attend the celebration or at a minimum provide a gift. If you lived in different towns, the expectation would not be as great.

Unexpected Visits – When relatives live close by, it can be very convenient for them to stop by and visit without giving you any notice. Some people are comfortable with these types of visits, but many people prefer to be consulted before visitors show up on their door step.

Favoritism – Other relatives can easily make charges of favoritism being shown between the relatives that live near each other. This can cause unnecessary friction within the extended family.

Guilty by Association – Just because a family is related to you, doesn’t mean that they will have the same kind of lifestyle or reputation that you have. Your family may gain negative associations from others in your community simply because of your family connections.

Offense – All the things listed above can lead to members of your families being offended by the actions, or lack thereof, by your two families. This kind of emotional drama can be an added source of stress.  

There can be many benefits to having relatives living close to your family. Unfortunately, there can be negatives as well. Choosing to live close to relatives is a decision that should be considered carefully.

Copied and forwarded from this link.