Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Nature Notes/More Bird & Insect Activity

There was a lot of twittering in my neighbourhood this morning. It was a pair of red-vented bulbuls flying to and fro from the coconut tree to the star fruit tree. I got a good view from my upstairs balcony and quickly got these pictures.

Don't you love that crest? Although my reference book on birds say that both sexes look alike, there's no mention that the female is slightly smaller. But I guessed this must be the female. The female of the pair that had nested in one of my small trees about four years ago looked like this one.
Although the male had bits and pieces of nesting material on its beak, I don't think a nest will be built on any of the trees that I had mentioned.
When I went to check some time later it was all quiet and there was no sign of the pair.
The few zinnias that I planted are attracting plenty of insects. I didn't notice the tiny spider till I had loaded the photos in the computer.

After several months, it's a welcome sight to see one of the ringed butterflies resting on a (gerbera daisy) leaf.
Hoverflies on a calendula and below is a Plain Tiger butterfly feeding on coreopsis.

It's a good feeling to know (when I'm inside the house) that there's always some beautiful insect or bird waiting to be seen, admired, and photographed. 

To see other participants' posts, click here.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Tailor Bird for WBW

A tiny bird that's sure to make its presence known is the tailorbird. It's hard to photograph them since they are constantly on the move and love to hop between the tangled branches of trees. But this morning I was happy to see one on the Areca palm, happy that there were no branches obstructing the view. See the lovely olive green on its back. The bird has a pale chest and black patches on the neck. The tail is long and the legs are pinkish in colour.
The tailor bird gets its name from the nests they make. The edges of large leaves are 'sewn' together with plant fibre or spider silk to make a cradle in which the actual nest is built. Their diet consists of insects, berries, and nectar.
Between the thorny branches of the Indian jujube tree

To see more of our feathered friends, head over to . I hope everyone's week is going great!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Nature Notes/Around My Yard

Now with the warmer weather and the hint of rain, there's plenty happening by way of garden wildlife. Every time I step out of the house, there are  birds, spiders, lizards, bees and butterflies drawing my attention. I usually see the garden lizards outside but sometimes they land on the wash-basin in the guest bathroom and find it difficult to get out.
This one nearly barked at me to hurry up. So I got a pair of tongs, lifted it, went to my terrace garden and placed it on the Cardboard Palm/Zamia furfuracea (first picture). I got a most disapproving look for my efforts and it quickly jumped to the thorny branch of the bougainvillea.

After a little game of "Now you see me, now you don't", I left it to return to my chores.
An itsy-bitsy spider

...and its prey

With the rains we get to see several colourful damselflies but I was happy to photograph the first damselfly of the year. It's the most common one in our area, black with yellow stripes near the head.
The few poppies that I am growing next to some phlox are attracting several bees. The yellow allamanda as well as the nasturtiums are attracting a few butterflies as well.

Caterpillar Update

The swallowtail caterpillar that I had posted last week now looks like this! Egged on (pun intended) by the sight of these butterflies-in-the-making, I stopped by a nursery today for a few more lemon plants. Imagine my delight when I saw that one of the plants I bought had five of these caterpillars. It remains to be seen how many of them make it to the butterfly stage. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
To see what's happening in the world of nature, head over to Rambling Woods where many bloggers share pictures and posts on Nature Notes.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Scatter a handful of grain and the sparrows are the first to arrive. Sparrows and crows are the only birds that we see (in our backyards) in flocks unlike the others who are seen in pairs or alone. Today's papers carried articles about the decline in the population of the sparrow. I did look up online about World Sparrow Day. It's disturbing to read about the decline of the sparrow population in several parts of the world.

The tender branches of a young mango tree is a favourite perch.

I'm glad to say that nearly all the trees and shrubs in our area has a few or several sparrows sitting on them at some point of the day. These are the images that I see every time I look out or step out of the house. And I hope it remains so for a long, long time.

To see more of our feathered friends visit Springman at

 Enjoy and Participate!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Nature Notes/Caterpillars

The few potted lemon plants that I grow have been hosts to caterpillars of the Common Mormon swallowtail butterflies. The other day I was very happy to see three caterpillars on this small plant. If everything goes right, they may turn out to be like the one pictured below (a female). The male does not have the red markings.
Common Mormon butterfly
Caterpillar of the Common Crow butterfly
The fig plant also has a few caterpillars of the Common Crow butterfly. This butterfly has a special place in my heart. It was when I saw the Common Crow butterfly emerge from the chrysalis, dry its wings and fly off, I knew I needed a place to share all the creatures that I see around me. You can see the full grown butterfly on my sidebar. 

Head over to Michelle's Rambling Woods to see more posts on Nature Notes.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Brown Shrike & A Starling

Another bird that I see on the wires near our house is the shrike. When I first noticed it the thought that came to my mind was..Oh, a bird with eye make up! It's a reddish brown bird and has a black line through eye to ear coverts. My book on birds tells me that it is a winter visitor throughout the subcontinent. Some stay on till June. Its diet consists of large insects, small birds, mammals, lizards.

Brown Shrike

Grey-headed starling

The Grey-headed starling is also known as the Chestnut-tailed starling

I'm seeing more of these birds now. The reason is that the Coral trees in our neighbourhood are in bloom and they are visited by several birds throughout the day. The Asian Pied starlings are more commonly seen than these Grey-headed ones. They come in pairs , are noisy but the bird chatter also includes delightful notes. They feed largely on berries, nectar and insects. ( The books that I refer to while writing some of my bird posts are: 
 1. The Book of Indian Birds by Dr. Salim Ali 2. Common Birds of the Indian Subcontinent.

To see more of our feathered friends visit World Bird Wednesday.

Enjoy and Participate!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Nature Notes/ The Season's Bloomers

It's the dustiest period of the year. There's always a light wind blowing leaving that fine patina of dust on anything that can be called a surface. This is when we long for the rains, at least we'll get a respite from the dust. But outside there's a lot of colour. My small planting area near the front door has a mix of flowers. I put in a few calendulas, verbena, pansies, salvia, and zinnia. The idea was that a mixed area would attract different kinds of butterflies. But so far I've only had the cabbage whites and a few skippers on the blooms.

I had planted two kinds of bougainvillea near the gate. They grew really bushy so I pruned them severely last year. They don't look too bad now. The red flowers beyond these white and pink ones belong to the neighbouring house. It's the Corky Coral tree. Throughout the day, the tree is visited by myriad birds.

The red penta is the favourite haunt of lizards and sunbirds. The butterflies seem to love coming here only during the height of summer.

I'm so happy with the buds on my small azalea plant. Although I've had the plant for over four years now, this is only the second time that it's blooming. Maybe it has to do with the colder (than usual)  winter we've had. When I started blogging I longed to grow cold climate plants that I drooled over at all the wonderful gardening blogs. It took me some time (read failure and expenses) to realize that such experiences were futile. As for azaleas, only these dark pink ones seem to do well in our area.

To see what's happening in the world of nature, visit Michelle at Rambling Woods.