The Green Ogre Weekend Update July 24

Last week the birds returned to The Green Ogre, though we have been feasting on frogs and snakes after our Agumbe conclave and continued to lick our fingers into the week that was
The Golden Frog
The Golden Frog (right) poses for an ardent admirer

Frogs have inspired fable, poetry and myth. And Sahastra, too. Back at Agumbe, he spent long meditative moments in the august (wasn’t it June?) presence of the Golden Frog. And he came back with a lovely photo-essay on the species. Inspired by Matsuo Bashuo’s immortal frog haiku, he wrote: “They were trusting, accessible and — pardon me for anthropomorphising — extremely friendly.”

Matsuo Basho’s frog haiku (via Geishablog)

Imagine an amphibian that is frequently mistaken for a snake. In Kerala (where it is called iruthalamoori — literally, two-headed ox) and parts of coastal Karnataka, caecilians are feared as fearsome two-headed snakes. The “heads” are in fact a pair of tentacles near the mouth, which aid the poor-sighted creature to feel its way around its dark, mulchy habitat.

Caecilian, you’re breaking my heart!

At Agumbe we had the fortune of meeting the Bombay Caecilian, a purplish-black serpentine amphibian with moist, mucous-coated skin, thanks to the ARRS station manager Prashant. It was the experience of a lifetime.

On Wednesday, the birds returned wordlessly to The Green Ogre, with Sandy showing us his picture of Racket-tailed Drongos on a monsoon date. Reminded me of that faux Japanese proverb from You Only Live Twice, quoted by Sean Connery playing 007: “Bird never make nest in bare tree.”

The beautiful Nilgiri Flycatcher

In the dark, mysterious shola forests of the Nilgiris, you may chance upon a diminutive blue bird, bluer than the hills that take their name from the violet-blue blooms of Kurinji that bloom every 12 years. The Nilgiri Flycatcher is so beautiful it can make you catch your breath. As gnats and midges dance like dust motes in the cool shade of stream-watered sholas, the flycatcher hawks them with darts and sallies. Sandy regaled us with some lovely pictures. Also watch this video.

The common Sand Boa that was saved from becoming a roadkill

Snakes are among the most common and least lamented of roadkills. And some, especially slow movers and those of nocturnal habit, are most susceptible to being run over by vehicles speeding carelessly on forest highways. Returning from a weekend trip Arun and a friend chanced upon a Common Sand Boa that was in grave risk of becoming a statistical addition to the list. “The sound that is produced as a vehicle runs over a snake is a sickening snap. I am glad I didn’t have to hear it this time,” he mused after they released the snake into the forest.

Look out for more interesting posts next week. Enjoy your weekend (or what’s left of it)!

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