The Green Ogre Weekend Update July 10

If you’ve missed anything this week, the weekend edition of The Green Ogre should sort you out…

I’ve been away on a family vacation most of last week, soaking up the monsoon in south Goa. Rain-washed Goa is refreshing. The Western Ghats slope down in a verdant riot that skids to a stop beside the ocean, buffered only by deserted beaches of soaked, clingy sand. Butterflies, dragonflies and birds were everywhere. Despite a domestic ban on birding, I sneaked sly glances at stork-billed kingfishers, prinias, spotted munias, black drongos and even a crimson sunbird that dropped by the hotel garden to say hello as I was dunking my daughter in the pool. Gorgeous, I say. And now, having returned sufficiently vindalooed, balchaoed, rechaedoed and bibincaed, I’m pleasantly surprised to see that my fellow-Ogres have been hacking away. 

This week, we continued our Agumbe Diaries and presented more finds from our sojourn in that neck of the deep, dark woods. On Monday, Sahastra introduced us to the Bicoloured Frog, one of the most attractive creatures to hop on the forest floor. In fact, if you’re not watchful, you might mistake it for the forest floor itself.

Sex is always a subject for steamy discussion. Despite Sandy’s depraved jokes about the amatory pursuits of frogs, I gleaned some wisdom from watching all sorts of creatures in love. Dragonflies interlocked in subtle arcs as they mated on twigs. Grasshoppers and bush crickets carried on unabashed, hopping away together only when we almost crushed them underfoot. Lesser Whistling Ducks wheeled in the air, piping joyously, while Rufous Woodpeckers introduced new mates to the treasure trove of ants’ nests in the treetops. Love was so in the air, and so inspired were we by monsoon mating mania that that we shot like zoopornographically obsessed paparazzi.

Having said too much already, and having pushed this blog to the brink of NSFW-ness, we thought it best to clam up on Wednesday. But then, Arun’s busy frame of mud-puddling lime butterflies raised so many curious eyebrows and engendered a spate of new questions.

Dung Beetles aren’t the most charismatic of insects. They are dark, round, fat and inconspicuous except when they whir absent-mindedly past your ears or crash dizzily into lamps at night. Worse, their crappy lives revolve around what other animals leave behind. But then again, rain affords you the luxury of time. Time enough to stop and stare at a cow pat for five hours, and we were amazed at how a Dung Beetle made short work of it. Andy essayed this ode to the lowly dung-muncher.

Last Day’s Luck is a phenomenon that has mystified most nature-walkers. After three days at Agumbe we had heard so much about snakes that we expected them to stalk us from every bush and tree stump. No such luck. And then, a few hours before we were to depart, a Green Vine Snake showed up and allowed us the luxury of a long, relaxed photo-session.

Among things that crawl, snakes scare the mojo out of most people. And a leaping frog has been known to turn dull altos into shrieking sopranos. But leeches?! Those eyeless, elastic strips of skin that crawl the mulchy rainforest floor? Sandy is so terrified of leeches that he gave us a hard time on the trip, repeatedly checking under our feet and rushing off unannounced into the bathroom to strip himself down for vainglorious de-leeching attempts. He refused to cross a stream and enter the dark rainforest for fear of his wetting his shoes — later, when we returned from the walk soaked in rain and bristling with living leeches, he looked relieved that Fate hadn’t picked him for that brief adventure. Leechophobia drove Sandy to such a paroxysm of panic that he wrote a fantasy-laced opus on these bloodsucking monsters.

That’s your weekend edition of The Green Ogre. Enjoy! 

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