The sacred grove at Oorani is the last stand of Tropical Dry Evergreen Forests — a postage stamp-sized green patch in the middle of insipid featureless coastal plain dotted with coconut plantations. It does not exactly draw your attention. That, however, would be a huge miss.
Trees are an inconvenience. Leaves falling, light being blocked, snakes showing up, tree roots destabilizing the walls, the need to widen the approach road - we have so many excuses to cut down our trees, and none for planting one.
While the glens and vales of the Nilgiris cope with a torrent of tourists, the resident and endemic birds have the hills to themselves. There's no better time to observe them nesting and bringing up their families. Without moving a muscle, just to prove that lazy birding does have its rewards.
Many birders shun Ranganathittu for the artifice of its environs and the easy photographic pickings. But the birds seem at home here, and that matters! Here's a photo-essay from a recent visit when the Eurasian Spoonbills had just started to fledge and the Asian Openbill Storks were nesting
Visiting the same location time and again has been the secret of this year's winter birding escapades. It's March but the migrants are still here. Among this week's surprises was a flock of Garganey, wintering ducks from Europe that I have observed at Kaikondrahalli for the first time
I always thought only humans queued up, and that too occasionally when they have no choice. Ah… and ants. But on our very eventful tramway trek in Parambikulam, Kerala, we experienced an epiphany. And the evidence of such orderly behaviour came from an unexpected group of insects: Butterflies.
Halfway into our tiring 18-km walk along the abandoned tramway used by the British to transport teakwood, we decided to stop for lunch at the rocky edge of the Chalakudy River. As we wolfed down the humble idlis packed from Hotel Lakshmi (Parambikulam’s answer to five-star dining) we saw a train of white butterflies fluttering by upstream in a very orderly sine wave, one behind the other. One group would constitute the crest, the other the trough, alternating the altitude as they moved ahead. Soon, we found that it was by no means a small group. The sine wave seemed to be unending as the flow of butterflies continued until we finished our lunch and got up to walk the rest of the trail.
The sine wave
As we walked downriver we saw more butterflies moving in the same orderly sine wave or hovering over rocky islands in chaotic congregations. We still could not identify them as they were constantly on the move, not even stopping to feed. We continued on our walk to the guest house that would shelter us that night. After dumping our backpacks there, we walked down to the river to freshen up.
Chaos theory in practice!
Here, we noticed a group of these butterflies mud-puddling. Getting closer, we angled for photographs, standing in the water wearing little but our modesty. The butterflies had white upper-wings, duller under-wings and a black tip to the upper wings that was faintly discernible in some … → Read more →