Tuesday, February 28, 2012

WBW/ Birds On The Silk Cotton Trees

For this week's post I headed to Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary to see the birds and the Silk Cotton trees in bloom. Although we see these trees in the city, seeing them in the wild without the posts, pylons, and the wires of human habitation, makes it extra special. The drive (my husband was at the wheel) is beautiful. We passed through small villages and rice fields. In the distance were the low hills that's a feature of this area. Nearly every kilometre stretch had either the Coral Tree/Erythrina stricta var. suberosa or the Silk Cotton trees/Bombax ceiba in bloom. In some places there were several clumps all in full bloom. Ideally I'd have loved to spend the entire day under those gorgeous trees but we had another commitment...But it was a morning well  spent. The distance was about 45 kms but it was at such a leisurely pace that we went, stopping wherever there were birds and blooming trees.

I'm afraid I haven't been able to identify the birds in the first two photos. The same birds are seen in my seventh photo also. The bill is blue. I think I'll need to spend more time with my latest buy, The Book Of Indian Birds by Salim Ali.
The Jungle Myna

Although the Jungle Myna doesn't look very different from the Common Myna, it's most prominent feature is the tuft of feathers on its forehead. These birds usually keep away from human habitation. They are largely omnivorous feeding on grasshoppers, other insects, wild figs, berries, and nectar.

Silk Cotton tree in full bloom
I would like to quote from Salim Ali's book regarding birds in connection with these trees.

Some of the most charming and enjoyable venues for bird watching are certainly afforded by the Silk Cotton, Coral Flower, or Flame of the Forest(Butea) trees in bloom. Their particular attractiveness lies in the fact that the trees, or the branches bearing the gorgeous flowers, are bare and leafless at this season, allowing a clear and unobstructed view of the visitors. Almost every small bird of the surrounding countryside flocks to the blossoms for the sake of the sugary nectar which they produce in such abundance.

Wonderfully sweet moments for the Asian Pied Starling 

Pobitora is most famous for its rhinos and the periphery of the park is low-lying. In our region, the low-lying areas are usually flooded during the rainy season. But in the dry season there are stretches of water with dense growth of aquatic plants in between. So hundreds of birds are always seen here. We had a field day watching the ducks, the storks, and several other aquatic species. I'll be posting those pictures next week.

A blurry picture of the Red-vented bulbul feeding on the blooms of the Corky Coral tree in our neighbourhood.

I hope you've enjoyed going through the pictures. Although there were several other species, they were too fast for me!:( Who knows what I might be able to capture on the blooms of the Silk Cotton trees next year?! It's a thought that makes me feel really g-o-o-d!

To see more of our feathered friends, click here.

Enjoy and Participate!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Nature Notes/ A New Find!

It's not every morning that you wake up to see this kind of news on the pages of our newspapers.The Telegraph had this picture on its front page this morning. These leg-less amphibians are known as Caecilians

Caecilians (pronounced seh-SILL-yens) are tropical amphibians that look like large worms or slick snakes. They have no arms or legs, and sometimes it’s hard to tell which end is the head and which is the tail! Their shiny skin is ringed with skin folds called annuli, and they usually come in shades of gray, brown, black, orange, or yellow. Some species have tiny, fish-like scales within the rings. Source.

Some excerpts from the newspaper.

The scientists from the University of Delhi and their counterparts from Belgium and the UK have announced their discovery in a paper that appears today in the journal, Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The new family of Caecilians, given the name Chikilidae, is genetically closer to African caecilians than to other legless amphibians  found so far across peninsular India.

S.D. Biju, India's leading amphibian researcher, and his PhD student Rachunliu Kamei, discovered the new family during a search for amphibians in the northeast between 2006 to 2010. The search yielded more than five hundred caecilians at 58 sites among the 238 localities surveyed.

The scientists classified the Chiklidae as a new family after studies revealed that these creatures have a distinctive morphology and a unique position on the genetic tree of amphibians.

Looking up the internet I came across more pictures and details. You might like to take a look here and here.

And in other news I'm happy to see bees and butterflies around my flowers.

Looks like this one's in a drunken stupor!:)

Butterfly on a calendula

Dahlias and an Orchid tree blooming in a garden attached to a local Cultural Centre.

The flowering trees of Spring are just beginning to put on a show. Soon our landscape will be ablaze with fiery reds and oranges. Here's a closer look at the bloom of the Orchid tree (below).

This is my contribution to Michelle's Nature Notes. Check out the signs of the season by clicking on the link. I wish all nature lovers a wonderful week!!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

WBW/ White-breasted kingfisher

Although I haven't been posting I had taken quite a few shots of birds over the past few weeks. A White-breasted kingfisher often comes and sits on the wires close to our house. Usually I manage a blurry blue with my camera but the other day I happened to be on the balcony upstairs and as luck would have it the kingfisher landed on the wires. I got enough time to get these shots. It's amazing to see the beak from close quarters despite knowing that kingfishers are meant to be that way....

To see more of our feathered friends, click here.