Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Native Place garden is at its best right now with many types of climbers and shrubs flowering, lots of birds and butterflies too. Last weekend I spent Saturday morning wandering about the garden admiring my collection of climbers ( thunbergia mysorensis, t alba, t grandiflora, t mystery ( don’t yet know this one’s name ) clitoria ternate, honeysuckle, pyrostegia vanusta, Strongylon Macrobotrys, morning glory, and bridal bouquet clematis) and the many little birds fluttering amongst them. I felt such a wonderful sense of fulfillment seeing all those beautiful vines laden with flowers…. Little baby plants that I have tracked down, procured and cared for … now all grown up and bearing flowers … such a wonderful feeling it was and I was further rewarded with the spotting of a crimson sunbird – my first sighting of this bird ever.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

An Ode to Salim Ali

The Jade vine creeper in the Native Place Garden has a new tenant. A female purplerumped Sunbird is busy building a nest in it. The female sunbirds are pretty dificult to identify compared to the males who have distinctive coloring. the females are all a olive brown above and whitish to yellow lower parts- Even with this picture on opening a birdbook i was puzzled on seeing 5 types of female sunbirds with similar colorings. But inveitibly Salim Ali comes to the rescue.

His discriptions of the sunbirds nests are so thorough
"an oblong pouch of soft grasses, rubbish and cobwebs, draped with pieces of bark, woody refuse and caterpillars' droppings, wit a projecting portico abouve lateral entrance hole. Suspended from the ti of a brnch of a bush or creeper at moderate heights, ofern adjacent to an occupied bunglow"
leaving me in no doubt whatsoever.

Years ago i used to see Salim Ali walking briskly along the seafront at Carter Road,Bandra. I had heard that he was very interesting to speak to. I never got the chance to listen to or walk with him but my experiences with his book 'The Book of Indian Birds' where he shares his rich experiences in such a beautiful manner makes me belive that he is still here guiding us birders.

Astrid Rao

Better late than never

I have a Palash tree in the garden that has not flowered at least not in the past 5 years that i have been watching and waiting. It was on the plot before we built the house and i was very excited to have it but it dissapointement every March by staying green rather than shedding its leaves and developing a profusely flaming crown.

But this season it surprised me - no profusion of orange but a few reluctant blooms as you can see above - enough to bring joy to my heart though. Here below you see pictures of another Palash that i came across on a walk in the hills blooming in all its glory.

Palash: is an indigenous species found in open country. Scientific name Butea monosperma, it is also known as the flame of the forest,Dhak,Tesu, kesu, chhichra, Bengal Kino and bastard teak. Floweres contain nectar and attract many birds. Leaves are used to make plates and the flowers yeild a orange dye used at Holi.

Astrid Rao

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Winter visitors to the Native Place Garden

When i put in a birdbath some months ago i was expecting to attract a number of birds and have a chance to see them in action. Instead the only visitors / users were the crows. Now crows too can be very interesting to watch but I'm sure you won't blame me if i wanted more.

This made me realise that the number of crows had increased greatly and the sightings of smaller birds around were diminishing. That's when Sunita wrote in to tell me to check on the compost pit.

It took a while before i organised a covering over the pit and within a week I noticed a vast difference.

To my delight the number of leaf warblers, spider hunters, sun birds, ioras .... increased. Then we were graced with many sightings of the Goldfronted Chloropsis, a pair of noisy but endearing drongos but the highlight was a pair of grey hornbills that we saw just once (thanks to Doc's sharp ears) but i suspect will visit more often once the Umbar tree ( wild fig) is fruiting.

Cheers to the birds, butterflies, bees, wasps dragonflies and many more interesting creatures that make themselves at home in my garden thereby complementing me on my efforts to make them feel welcome.

Astrid Rao