Tag Archives: life

Birdwatching in Benaulim, Goa, dec.11

Typically I’d have at least two weekend birding trips under my belt by the end of the first week of December. This year, work, or the possibility of work has kept me away from booking a trip. I’d gone to Goa last week and decided to club in a couple of birding escapades into the itinerary.

Look, photographically it’s totally useless. But it’s a fantastic recreation, especially early in the morning. So that’s five thousand Indian rupees well spent, and thank you, mirror lens. I hope it lasts a couple more decades.

So here’s the birds from that morning. I’ve decided that I’m not going to bother about names anymore.

This weekend, I’m going birding to Sewri (report: 2009-10 | feb’2011) . I better brush up my Sewri birds so that I can show off in front of the ignorent.




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Sparrows in Réquista, the south of France

The sparrow population in Réquista is extremely grateful to Anne for the fresh water that she supplies them in her garden at Anne’s Place in Réquista. Réquista is a quaint village to the south of France rich in greenery, scenery and culture. I’ll have more about the village, it’s culture, scenery and greenery on my photo blog in the weeks to come.

I don’t remember seeing sparrows in Holland, Spain, The Czech Republic and France. So this might have been the first time that I’ve come upon foreign sparrows!

Réquista is a nice holiday destination; quiet and peaceful with plenty of activity and adventure sports on offer. For more info., get in touch with our host, Anne.

I also have a video of the little birds:



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Birdwatching in Assagao, Goa, India in March 2011

I don’t know about you, but I like my Sunbirds.

Purple Sunbird (male)

As far as lifers go, there were a couple:

The male Koel.

The female Koel. That makes it Mr. & Mrs. Koel.

I never bothered about the Spotted Dove whilst they’d showed up on a couple of the BNHS outings. They’re actually quite nice.

Asian Yellow Oriole.

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Revisiting Assagao 24.2.11

I dropped in at Harmony Villas in Assagao to visit Anne who has been staying there since January. I’d been there a couple of times in 2010 and had the best birding experiences yet. I was in Goa on a filming assignment and so I didn’t carry my camera for photography. Nevertheless, through a pair of binoculars, I came across a bird or two anew.

The White-browed Wagtail or Large Pied Wagtail, Motacilla Maderaspatensis were seen in large numbers back then, about 13 months ago. One had to be in sight at most times, early in the mornings. 13 months hence, not a single one! Anne doesn’t remember seeing one there and there about in the two months that she has been there.

Nevertheless, we saw:

The Oriental Magpie Robin (Copsychus saularis)

The Jungle Babbler, Turdoides striata

The Red-whiskered Bulbul (Pycnonotus jocosus)

The Red-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus cafer)

The Purple-rumped Sunbird -male and female (Cinnyris asiaticus)

The Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus)

The Black Kite (Milvus migrans)

The Jungle Myna, Acridotheres fuscus

The Small Minivet, Pericrocotus cinnamomeus

The White-rumped Munia or White-rumped Mannikin (Lonchura striata), sometimes called Striated Finch

The Asian Koel Eudynamys scolopaceus

The Black-lored Tit, Parus xanthogenys



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Bird watching at Sewri, Mumbai, India on 19 Feb’11

I started my bird watching escapades at Sewri on the 15th of November 2009. I knew neither a bird nor a bee back then. This morning, I surprised myself by being able to identify almost all of the birds that we came across. I was hoping to photograph at least one bird that I hadn’t come across as yet. It didn’t happen. We spotted a Green Heron in flight; I didn’t manage a photo though. The number of Flamingos had significantly reduced from last year. And no Grey Herons.

A significant number of people assembled along the jetty to seek the guidance of the experts that BNHS had on offer. Almost three to three and a half times more than November 2009.

Perhaps Vijay Mallya instructed this Kingfisher to camp close to shore for everyone to see. It just sat there on a rope, about fifteen feet away from us:

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Identifying trees in Bandra, Mumbai, India with Walk the Mumbai Trees

Last year, this time, I’d done a morning walk at Santa Cruz and through to Bandra with a bunch of people. Some others were called upon to educate us about the trees etc. in the area. Rotary Club and the Bombay Natural History Society had put this thing together. It was funny because there were about forty people and the organisers had to have permission from the cops etc. And a few cops and their rickety van led the procession. I guess they got bored after about fifteen minutes. They left!

I’d taken down plenty of notes, drawn diagrams etc. in my notepad. On the way back home, I forgot the thing in the rickshaw. Damn.

I lost all my notes.

This morning, Walk the Mumbai Trees in association with Unltd India put together one such walk in Bandra. I scribbled some notes on the back of the paper they’d given us. One had a map with each tree marked and numbered. And the other had info. about each of these trees etc. So before I forget all that I learnt in class this morning, I must post it here. I never did this in school or during university! Take down notes i.e.

Okay, so here we go. I didn’t carry a camera though. The idea is to learn a little about trees and do some photos. I don’t have the photo in mind so far.

  • The seeds of the Karanj or Pongamia pinnata have oil. It is an indigenous source of bio diesel. It regenerates around by dropping seeds etc.
  • What is otherwise thought of as the Ashoka is actually the Mast Tree, Asupalav or Polyalthia longifolia. The Ashoka ain’t so slender. It flowers too!
  • Naturals Ice Cream make Jamun flavoured ice cream in the summer months. This stuff is good for those with diabetes.  In fact this tree, Syzygium cumini had medicinal properties. It helps combat diabetes. Railway sleepers are made out of the wood. Poor kids! Not enough Jamun.
  • The tree outside my balcony is actually the Fishtail Palm or Caryota urens. They extract toddy from the small fruit! I must make some.
  • The Pink Trumpet Tree or Tabebuia rosea flowers pink trumpet like flowers.
  • The Subabul or Leucaena leucocephala has slender leaves. The thing sucks all the water around thus depriving other trees of water. It is used to make paper.
  • Frangipani or Plumeria alba was bare at the top. It had a couple of flowers though. White with yellow at the end of each petal.
  • The colouring on a Bougainvillea or Bougainvillea aren’t flowers. They are the bract. The flowers are in the midst of them. Small.
  • Chakka sounds like Jack in Roman! And the Jackfruit or Artocarpus heterophyllus is used to make classical Indian musical instruments. Again, poor kids! Not enough Jackfruit.
  • Stuff from the Arlu, Tree of Damocles or Oroxylum Indicum is an iungredient in Chyavanprash.
  • The Christmas tree like New Caledonia Pine  or Araucaria columnaris dates back to the time of dinosours.
  • Kera means coconut and Alum, place. Hence Kerala, the land of coconuts!
  • Next time you’re stuck in a traffic jam during the monsoons because of a fallen tree, take a close look at it. I just might be the Gulmohur or Delonix regia. It has a shallow root system. If ever I am in such a situation, I’ll go, “It has got to be a Delonix regia!”
  • Tyres etc. aren’t made from the Indian Rubber Tree or Ficus elastica. Someone suggested that rubber flip flops might!
  • I have always wondered about the Casuarina Tree or Casuarina equisetifolia. In fact, I have spent hours on end just staring at them along the coast of Goa on my trips there. I even have photos! It prevents soil erosion. It protected a few villages during the tsunami. Or lessened the impact.

Casuarina equisetifolia

Cocos nucifera and Casuarina equisetifolia

  • So one dude in the old days decided to go explore or something. His chic said to him: on the way there, sleep under a turmeric tree each night. And on the way back, sleep under a Neem tree. The acidic turmeric tree can make a person sick and all. And that way, he’d not want to head too far from home. Sleeping under a Neem tree on each of the nights whilst returning’ll heal him. And that way he’ll be fine by the time he gets home and ready for some action!
  • The Travellers Palm or Ravenala madagascariensis is my new favourite tree. I don’t know why. I guess because it has the word traveller in it.
  • The Chickoo Tree or Manilkara zapota was brought by the Portuguese. They’d made early chewing gum from Chickoo! Hence the name Chiclets and stuff. I haven’t eaten Chiclets in two decades. I don’t eat too many Chickoos either.
  • Bay leaves are different. It ain’t Tej Patta, Malabar Leaf or Cinnamomum tamala.



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Birdwatching on the mudflats of Nerul, Navi Mumbai (near Bombay, India) using a mirror lens

Today, I resumed my birdwatching escapades with BNHS. I started birdwatching in the December of 2009 and did a few trips with BNHS last year. I went with them to Nerul this morning. Let’s start with the ‘Lifers’, birds that I came across for the first time this morning:

The Black-winged Stilt or Common Stilt (Himantopus himantopus) Continue reading


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