Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Baya's are weaving!

As kids whenever we were taken out for a drive to Suraj Kunj in Delhi or here in Bangalore on the road to Mysore, my eyes wandered to the numerous Baya weaver bird (Ploceus philippinus) nests hanging from the babul (accacia) trees in colonies or from palm fronds or bull rushes and usually near a lake or a pond. Apparently,the idea of the overhang on water is to prevent predators getting at the eggs and chicks. The birds flew busily in and out of the nests weaving them furiously and often the tiny bird could be seen comically carrying this huge filament torn off from a large palm, flying out behind it, to ‘weave’ it into its nest.
The birds looked very like the small sparrow but the males are a bright yellow. Various species are found of the seed eating birds which have rounded conical bills and are closely related to finches. As children we picked off the nests which were empty and closer to the ground but apparently the birds recycle their nests. They refurbish the older nests and reuse the same ones over the years.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Bird Baths in your garden!

I just wrote a piece on how important it is for us to have a small bird bath in your gardens or on our terraces and balconies for our city birds, in the Hindu. Fresh water is becoming tough for them to find in our cities today with shrinking garden spaces. So take a look at the pics which were sent to me by Surya Prakash who 'shot' all these beautiful pictures and see what joy just a little terracotta pot can bring to you.

Barbets, Magpies, Orioles, Mynas, Koels, you can see them all and more.

Just enjoy the beauty of our varied feathered friends visiting, if you take just a little trouble to buy a container and keep it clean and filled with fresh water for the birds.

PHOTO CREDITs Surya Prakash with thanks!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The joys of a book club!

This time we had Gita Aravamudan as our guest of honour, last time it was Jahnavi Barua.Running a book club is interesting. I always wanted to run one to see how other readers like me, enjoy the written word out of a hard copy book, and whose brains I could pick, as most readers are very erudite.

The last book we dissected was Ken Follets The Pillars of the Earth. A wonderful story but was a bit hard to plod on, reading the 1080 odd pages of the book. Inspite of having a Masters in History, I found the going tough at times, but on the whole it did keep me engrossed with his story line.

The 'Pillars' he talks about are to do with the architectural styles that went into building of churches during the peak era of Christianity. It brought to life the Duomo Cathedral I gawped at in Milan. If it wasn't for Padma taking me to Milan for her football jerseys, we might have missed it on our Italian walkabout last year!

Just take a look at the Cathedral - according to history it took 6 centuries to build.One wondered at the drive and ambition to build something as massive and intricate as that.Then in Follet's book the raison d'etre behind the church buildings of the past which served as safe havens in times of war made sense.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Plant a tree this monsoon!

I wish, I wish, I wish that everyone decided to plant ONE tree this monsoon. It would make such a difference to Bangalore. Really, truly! If we just visited Delhi we could see there is such a difference between Bangalore and Delhi. There is MUCH MORE greenery in Delhi. Yes! You read right, we have hacked off all our green cover in the heart of Bangalore and Delhi seems much greener to me now. We have even lost all our traffic islands which we were so proud of.

Instead we have nothing, just traffic jams and madly honking cars and buses with rashly driven autos.

And I have to fight to keep my Camel Foot alive on the pavement from that marauding doctor from the Narayana Netralaya hospital next door.

So, we went off to Lalbagh a week in advance and bought 10 Ratnagiri Alphonso's and made a session of planting in Hoskote. They will take some time to grow of course, but when they do, we will wallow in home grown, organic mangos!

DON'T buy your fruit trees from anywhere but Lalbagh. It is only when you grow them and after 5 years when they fruit that you realise you have been rooked. All the trees we bought from Lalbagh are true grafts. But those bought from other nurseries are total fakes.

We bought two pomogranates from Lalbagh and they are the exact Ganesh maroon variety we bought and paid for. However we bought 10 trees from another nursery and now we see ONE is Ganesh, the rest are just regular which is really galling as no one wants to cut down a tree.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Parental Care

The picture on the left, sent to me by my friend Salma evoked a -- is this for real response in me. I could not imagine a bird being so loving and so very caring of its young. Obviously I was wrong because I sent my question and the picture to an ornithologist
in my bird group named S. Subramanya. This was his response:

"I would believe so Marianne. This image is of a male Orange-breasted Green Pigeon, a denizen of the Western Ghats and the forests of the North-east. Breeds between March-September with the ideal period being April-June. Typically lays two eggs in a nest which is a flimsy platform of twigs, built some 6-8m up in a moderate canopy and both the parents take part in domestic duties of nest-building, incubation (12-14 days) and nestling care.

The picture was doing the email rounds under the banner of parental love and Subu said:

I would not term it as parental love, could well be part of the species parental care.

Feast your eyes on the picture which will evoke a warm feeling in the breast of any parent!