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:
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.
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.
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
I’d posted this a while ago. Tore it down. I think it should be up though. I’d rather leave it published.
Sunday 27 December 2009 – a morning’s walk through Bassein Fort – a Portuguese establishment of 1534. And in the first half hour, I made these photos of a bird that that I couldn’t identify:
AIROLI 19.147500°N 72.987222°E
Flamingos are seen on the mudflats along the Thane Creek in Mumbai. The flyover between Mulund and Airoli (Airoli Bridge) serves as a good vantage point. Waders like Redshanks, Godwits and Gulls & Terns are some of the other species found here.
The Gull-billed Tern, Gelochelidon nilotica
The mangroves along the Thane Creek, at Airoli are being destroyed. And the land reclaimed.
We saw them chop off the mangroves with axes in an attempt to reclaim the land for ‘development’. Truckloads of debris were being brought in and dumped into the leveled marsh every ten minutes. Acres and acres of mangroves have been destroyed. Skyscrapers and highways shall replace them.
SEWRI JETTY 19.00°N 72.86°E
A Flamingo in flight at Sewri Jetty
Sewri – an industrial hub located along the Eastern Waterfront in Mumbai is home to Flamingos during the winter months.
My bird-watching escapades started here on the 15th of November 2009. Early on a rainy morning, some fifteen of us – members and guests of the Bombay Natural History Society under the guidance of a couple of Resource People – Ornithologists assembled opposite the railway crossing at Sewri.