Monday, November 28, 2011

The Commander Butterfly

The other day I came across this butterfly on my mussaenda plant. I recognized it as the Commander as I'd seen it two years ago in my front yard. Looking up online I found out that the Commander is found in low elevations and found all over India. It's fond of damp patches and the flowers of the Aztec marigold. Male butterflies exhibit strong territorial behaviour, often perch high on trees and pounce on other butterflies. Only time will tell whether I'll be able to document such actions in future.:)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Black Drongo

The Black Drongo is a bird found in the tropics in lightly wooded habitats from south-west Iran through India and Sri Lanka to southern China and Indonesia. Like the sparrows and the crows, the drongo is a regular visitor to our gardens. The glossy black feathers of this bird also have blue metallic hues. The tail is long and forked and both sexes look similar. Juveniles are said to have dull brown feathers but I have never seen one so far.Like the bee-eaters, drongos are also fond of sitting on the power lines and preying on insects. These pictures were taken in the gardens of the local Cultural Centre where the drongos are seen in large numbers. 

Drongos are said to be fearless and aggressive. Although their length is 28 cms only they are known to attack larger birds if their young or nests are in danger. Although their call is said to be varied I often hear the sweetest ones when they perch themselves on the mango tree or on the power lines near our house.

This is my entry for World Bird Wednesday. Please click on the link to see birds of many different feathers....

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Oriental Magpie Robin

Welcome to World Bird Wednesday! Today I'm posting pictures of the Oriental magpie robin/Copsychus saularis, a bird that's seen in our gardens everyday. The glossy black and white feathers and the sweetness of its call makes sure that you notice the bird! Males are black and white but the females are a dull grey. Juveniles resemble the female but they have scaly heads and upper parts. 

The Oriental magpie robins are known for their song and were once popular as cagebirds. This is the national bird of Bangladesh where it is known as the doyel.

Sizing its prey, maybe? Magpie robins usually feed on the ground, foraging for insects. Their diet also includes snails, plant matter and small lizards. They are terrestrial birds and their flight is often near the ground and for short distances.

To see more posts on the wonderful world of birds, head over to 
World Bird Wenesday.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Ladybird or Tortoise Beetle?

I came across this ladybird-like insect on the underside of the Ixora leaf (first photo in the collage). It looked like a ladybird but a closer inspection revealed that it was a tortoise beetle. I've photographed quite a few tortoise beetles but never like this one. To see the kinds of patterns on them you might like to visit this site.

Commonly seen ladybirds that I photographed a few months ago. To see more details of tortoise beetles check out my post here.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Weekend Reflections/Chennai Sky

Wispy clouds reflected on the glass front at Express Avenue Mall in Chennai.

For more reflection photos head over to

My thanks to James for hosting this wonderful meme.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Blue-banded Bees

Now that I have posted about the birds, let me talk about the bees!! One of my favourite bees in the garden is the blue-banded bee. They are really tiny, about 7-15mm average and make a sound that sounds louder than most bees. Also they are hard to photograph because they are constantly moving, and never still.

The blue-banded bees are native to Australia but their close relations can be found throughout the Asia-Pacific region. They are members of the genus Amegilla. the most conspicuous thing about them is the pale blue or bright blue bands on a mainly black abdomen. Females have four bands, and males, five. These bees are buzz pollinators. They use a special technique to get pollen from flowers. They hold on to the flower and vibrate with a loud buzzing sound. The vibration causes the flower to drop the pollen on the bees' bodies. Despite the sounds they make they are not at all aggressive and will sting only if threatened.

One unique thing about these bees that I've noticed is that they cluster at night by clinging to twigs or stems. Looking up online I learnt that the males cluster on twigs but the females build nests in shallow burrows in the ground or in the soft mortar of houses. I happened to be photographing a pretty dragonfly yesterday when I noticed this bee getting ready to call it a day. Even here it was not still.

 Another bee comes to rest on the same twig. That electric blue is no longer prominent now that the wings are closed.
The cluster forms...All these images of garden wildlife has taught me a n important lesson in watering. Years ago, during hot summer evenings, I used to splash water on my plants at night too. Now I know better. How many moths, butterflies, lizards, and bees I must have disturbed then. I didn't really think about garden wildlife then, the way I do now. 
All quiet now...maybe the cluster grew larger after this shot. But I knew I had to leave them catching up on their much-needed beauty sleep:) for first light will see them heading for their immediate neighbour...the coleus in full bloom.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tree Kingfisher

We often see kingfishers on the electrical wires but they are too far away to be photographed with the kind of camera that I have. The other day as I was busy with some weeding and re-potting, I sensed a presence and looked up the mango tree . This pretty kingfisher sat there seemingly oblivious to my activity. I tiptoed back to the house for the camera and got these shots. 

I was surprised to find out online later that the White-throated Kingfisher is a tree kingfisher and often lives away from water. Their diet includes amphibians, small rodents, and other birds. According to Wiki, they are widely distributed in Eurasia from Bulgaria, Turkey, east through south-east Asia.

This is my contribution to World Bird Wednesday. I don't know much about birds but I love observing them. I'd like to share the birds that I see on a regular basis in my garden.

                                   CLICK THIS PICTURE!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Bee eaters

Throughout summer I've had the pleasure of watching the several bee-eaters who stopped on the electrical wires near our house and indulged in their favourite pastime. In this case it was picnicking on the myriads of dragonflies hovering above the marshy plot of land.

Although their plumage was more of bluish-green, I have never been able to capture that resplendence. They mostly arrived in the afternoon when the sun was facing the camera. Any attempt to take the photos with my back to the sun would have resulted in their flight to safer wires!;)

Most species of bee eaters are found in Asia and Africa but others occur in southern Europe, Australia, and New Guinea. All bee eaters have down-turned bills and pointed wings which give them a swallow-like appearance when seen from a distance. There are 26 different species of bee-eaters. These birds pursue any type of flying insects but honey bees predominate in their diet. Before eating its meal, a bee-eater removes the sting by repeatedly hitting and rubbing the insect on a hard surface. During this process, pressure is applied to the insect thereby extracting most of the venom. Notably, the birds only catch prey that are on the wing and ignore flying insects once they land. Source.
It was only recently that I noticed they no longer made their daily visits. I guess I'll have to wait for next summer to watch them swoop, dive, and fly. The flash of the bluish-green colours will be a joy to see again.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Weekend Reflections/Deepor Beel

A late afternoon photo of floating clumps of water hyacinth at Deepor Beel, the largest lake in our area.

To see more images visit James

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Weaver Birds' Nests

The same garden where I saw the spider in my last post had these Weaver birds' nests. I had posted pictures of these nests on coconut trees on my other blog. This time I saw the nests on the Areca palm trees/Areca catechu, also referred to as Betel nut trees. This area (not far from where I had photographed the nests on coconut trees) seems to be a great nesting site for the weaver birds. These photos were taken around 9 AM. The last shot shows a pale moon still visible at that time.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Halloweeny Pictures!!

 With all the webs and spiders, not to mention ghouls of every shape and size on cyberspace, I thought I'd join in with these pictures as well!:D Found this one in a relative's guava tree. The black legs stood out against the cream-coloured body. I'll be happy if anyone can identify this one for me.