Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Intelligent Spot-billed Pelicans

This was one of the most curious things that I have seen in a while! On the 30th of November 2008, M. B. Krishna and me decided to take an early morning walk through Lalbagh. What we had not expected to see were a pair of Spot-billed Pelicans (Pelecanus philippensis) fishing in the most ingenious ways possible.

They were waiting near the bridge with other domestic ducks waiting for people above to throw bread-crumbs and other feeds for the fish. The ducks, I guess were feeding on what was thrown for the fish. The fish (cat fish?) would surface to eat the food and become a meal for the waiting Pelicans!

Once they'd gulped down a fish, the Pelicans would go for a short swim of about 10-20 meters and wait. As soon as they'd see some food being thrown, they'd swim back to below the bridge and again feast. They were almost like pet dogs waiting for someone to feed them!

Here's an article about this the next day in The Hindu.


Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Indian Coral Tree or Tiger's Claw or Sunshine Tree

The Indian Coral Tree or Tiger's Claw or Sunshine Tree (Erythrina variegata or Erythrina indica, as it was earlier known) is a beautiful native tree that has some remarkable flowers. The flowers are long and brightly colored, the reason for some Erythrina sp. to be planted as decorative trees in gardens. The tree is visited by a host of birds including Mynas, Parakeets, Bulbuls and Sunbirds. One of those trees that is worth having in any garden!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Scarce Shot Silverline

A rare one, the Scarce Shot Silverline (Aphnaeus elima Moore or Spindasis elima Moore, as it was earlier called) is an uncommon butterfly preferring the drier regions. This one was photographed while mud-puddling at B. R. Hills near a roadside water hole towards VGKK. A lifer for me.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Tailed Jay

The Tailed Jay (Graphium agamemnon) is a common swallowtail butterfly in Bangalore. It is a restless flier and can be more often seen hovering around the False Ashoka Tree (Polyalthia sp.) and the Champaka/Sampige tree (Michelia champaca) that happens to be this butterfly's food plant. I have reared this butterfly in a bottle many times, when I was in school. It is very active in flight and has a fast and rapid wing beat. It is mud-puddling here and this was shot in B. R. Hills near one of the roadside water bodies towards VGKK.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Common or Gray or Hanuman Langur

The Hanuman or Gray or Common Langur (Semnopithecus entellus dussumieri or Semnopithecus dussumieri) is found commonly in forests in South India and also in urban regions in the North. They are distributed across the sub-continent. This species has now been sub-divided into 7 species from the earlier 15 sub-species that were classified. This one is the southern race of the species and was photographed at Mudhumalai, near the Bandipur National Park. It is one of the old world monkeys and subsists on a diet of leaves and fruits. They are considered holy in the Indian mythology and are believed to be the members of the original वान्नर सेना of Lord Rama when he crossed over to Sri Lanka. The black face is attributed to Lord Hanuman getting burnt when setting fire to Lanka. These monkeys are the eyes of the forest and usually call out when a predator is around. They form an alliance with the Spotted Deer or Chital (Axis axis) and warn them of predators that they see. They in-turn are benefit from the keen sense of smell of the Chital to detect the presence of predators. Both these animals are usually found foraging together. The alarm cry of the Langur is very unique and forms a part of the experience of an Indian jungle.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Rosy Periwinkle

The Rosy Periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus) or Vinca rosea as it was known earlier, is a native of Madagascar and is found commonly growing around human habitations in India. This plant is considered to be highly medicinal and was known to African tribals for various cures. In the modern day it is used to cure certain types of cancer in children. The alkaloids present in the flower, vincristine and vinblastine, are used in chemotherapy for childhood leukemia. The plant is a known hallucinogen and is toxic if consumed orally. Shot at Masinagudi.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Pongam or Honge or Indian Beech Tree

Pongam or Honge (Pongamia pinnata) as it's called is a native of India and grows in profusion, generally planted as avenue trees by the forest department. It's renowned for its shade and is well known in traditional uses for its medicinal properties. It is also grown as a host plant for lac insects. The tree is also one of the food plants for Common Cerulean (Jamides celeno). The seeds contain pongam oil - a red brown inedible oil - that is now being explored as an alternate fuel source. This was shot at Cubbon park.

Here are a few more pictures from Foodista
Indian Beech on Foodista


Pink Shower Tree or Java Pink Cassia

The Java Pink Cassia or Cassia javanica is a beautiful deciduous tree with clusters of pink flowers and pods that are long and tubular. The pods contain coin-like disc shaped seeds and smells plain yucky! As the scientific name suggests the tree is a native of Java and Asian tropics. This was shot in Cubbon Park.