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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Lal Bagh on Sunday morning

Water fowl aren't quite my cup of tea but this once I was prepared to make an exception. At the Lal Bagh lake, I was striding along ahead of Trupti, Adu, and Pallavi when I stopped stunned. There in front of me, making its stately way across the water was a Spot-Billed Pelican or the Grey Pelican. (Note: This update was provided by Karthik)It's rather benevolent visage was unmistakable despite the absence of the pouch which meant that it had either digested its catch for the day or hadn't much luck. Not too surprising given that all the fish were below the little bridge where some gentleman was tossing breadcrumbs to them. I'm reasonably sure the pelican preferred to eschew human contact.
That wasn't quite the case with this cormorant which took the opportunity to get the fish. Fish go for bread, cormorant goes for fish, and I go for my camera.

Pallavi was quite thrilled by the whole exercise. While she already loves animals and was at Kabini where she watched tigers gambol around (filling us with envy and knowing it too) she wasn't quite up to bird watching. I had promised to take her birding and so that's how we ended up at Lal Bagh at 6.30 a.m. on Sunday.
We had initially skirted the lake, giving it wide berth and made for the Japanese pond instead. I knew there had to be something there and sure enough we spotted a white-breasted water hen among the lily pads. Oblivious to our presence or preferring to ignore us, the water hen continued to forage despite the gunshot-like clicks from my camera.

I couldn't resist getting one of the lilies in the pond in that early morning light. Most of the other birds had flown home already. There were few flowers and fruits for them to forage and there wouldn't have been much point in their lingering on merely to give us the pleasure of their company.

But this white-cheeked barbet hung around picking up some berries from the tree top enabling me to get at least one picture that I considered decent enough to post.

As to what the berries are, someone else will have to help out with identifying the tree.

UPDATE: Karthik has been kind enough to identify the tree on which the barbet was feasting on the berries. It is a Schefflera actinophylla, commonly known as umbrella tree or octopus tree. The tree is native to Australia, New Guinea and Java.

Keeping in mind the last few posts on Bngbirds begging people to leave the mottled wood owls alone, we moved along a completely different path heading for the main gate and were quite surprised that a live Carnatic music performance was in full swing, speakers and all. I do like music but I'm sure the wood owls wouldn't have appreciated it. Come to think of it, there were very few people around the musicians too. Most early morning walkers and joggers were wending their way around the paths their ears firmly plugged into MP3 players and IPODs or even their mobile phones. It just doesn't make sense for me. Here, in the middle of one of the most beautiful gardens in Bangalore, with Nature speaking volumes, people refuse to stop and listen, smell the roses, watch the grass grow.

One couple sat on a bench in meditation while, high above them on a tree branch, a squirrel had scavenged a plastic bag and was dipping into it with gay abandon. I was only praying that it wouldn't bite off a piece of plastic and swallow it.

Trupti and I couldn't, however, resist dropping in on the spotted owlets at their abode in the hollow of a tree. We watched as the tenant vacated the heart-shaped hollow and stepped out to regally regard its uncouth guests who dared to disturb its slumber. Just behind, another owlet tucked its head under its wing and snoozed, probably in the hope that we would mistake it for a misshapen growth on the tree. That's when we spotted these two beauties backlit by the light filtering in through the leaves.

This pair glared at us and, deciding that we must be some wierd but harmless flotsam of humanity, went back to sleep. After about ten minutes of observing them, we left them and quietly climbed up to the lake where we were rewarded with the vision of the pelicans and this lesser egret.

The murky, shallow water lent this picture a very surreal appearance while the sunlight flashed off the dagger like beak. It wasn't until after I got the picture that I realized what a beauty my prize really was.


siri said...

Excellent pictures and great blog...well articulated..interesting info about birds, not found in many blogs!

couch potato said...

Very kind of you to think so, Siri, but there's so much more to bird watching that I am yet to learn.
Do continue to drop in.
A list of blogs on the left pane of my blog will lead you to some very erudite information on the animal world.

Falkor said...

Cool pictures and gr8 blog too... will be coming around.

Will give you a link too at my blog. :)


couch potato said...

Thank you falkor. It's always nice to be appreciated.