Monday, November 26, 2012

A black and white bird, Magpie Robin

So many objects seemed to suddenly appear in the surroundings of the house as soon as a digital camera came to me!!  I need not tell why and how.  Go figure!

One such was Magpie Robin.  I used to hear the calls in the evening from the tree where it had a nest.  I had not bothered to see what it was, before.  But when a digital camera in hand, the curiosity increased and and now I was trying to catch an image of it!  I must thank the camera for opening up new vistas and making me see beyond my usual range.  I was not knowing its name either.  Thanks to Dave's Garden, I could name it as Magpie Robin! 

I grew fond of its calls.  The bird bath, of which I have written in the other post, was a spot to shoot images of it as I had observed it liked and visited it to splash itself every day.  I had kept this birdbath under the tree it had made its home.  I had thought the tailorbirds would enjoy the bath, but no, they wouldn't even go near it.  Spotted doves would come for a drink, but not dip.  The Robins were usually seen in twos.  They really seemed to like to splash.

This was the birdbath. 

It found something from a Mussaenda branch.

Then I made another birdbath. I had failed to top up the water.  This Robin is feeling strange with such 'feet-level' water!  How can it 'dip'? 

This was my third birdbath of stone.

It is a juvenile Robin. 

When a Magpie Robin dips in water.......... 

The rest are recent shots.  Look at the posture! 

The Robin reminds me of my teacher sisters in the convent because of the appearance.  You can see one here, meeting last year after nearly 42 years. One of us is showing her own autograph he took at that time!!

With the tail up, that is its signature pose!

It was enjoying breakfast... a lizard was its menu.  I would not say 'poor' lizard, but it is Nature's food chain.

I must not fail to tell that the Magpie Robin is one of the most melodious winged singers, at least in the urban settings.  One Sunday it sat near my room window.  I did my best to stay still and record this video.  [Click].  Listen to its music and ignore the traffic accompaniment. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

A Sunday in the Yarden

Yesterday, my pots section looked like this [picture below].  Today it looks better.  I decluttered the area by discarding a few cacti pots in little pots mercilessly.  I also thinned down the overgrowing offshoots of the now flowering orchid plants you see in the corner. This was long overdue. I also had to repot a couple of potted cacti that I want to retain for some more time.

To relax, I brought out the camera and lazed away.  In the bargain, I got to see these:

An Impatiens flower glowing in the sun. 

 A little bee rests on the Water lily petal in the pond.

There is something new I see at the pond each time I go with the camera!   This is my ten thousandth shot... or so it seems!  Five were on show today.

On the hyacinth leaf in the pond, this is a common sight.  A tiny Coromandal Marsh Dart - a damselfly perches as the sun was shining bright.

Close by is the Aechmea gamosepala.  Amazing colour combo.  A couple of those buds were open today.  

This little kitty was hiding in a cement pipe. I wanted to take a snap of it jutting its head out of the pipe, but it would not move from inside.  It was scared of my presence.  It had chosen the pipe as a good hiding place.  Who taught it to go and hide there?  This kitty is just a few days old.  I shot it when inside the pipe.  

It had come out when I was not seeing. So I missed that shot.  It's calling its mother who was around.

 Minutes later, I found it in my junk shed.  They learn to climb! 

See here!  Precariously perched at the edge of an old Charaka.

In the afternoon, I heard the tailorbird making noise. It does like that when Sunbirds also sometimes visit at the same time. But since I had the camera ready, I noticed a 'new bird'.  The tailorbird was trying to chase it away from 'its territory'!  Tailorbird is above with its olive-green wings. 

This bird does not visit my yarden regularly. This was the first time I saw.  I glanced for some clues in the Book of Indian Birds that was gifted by a kind friend on Dave's Garden, Shirley.  But was not sure. So, as always, when in doubt, I posted an image on the forum and it was very soon identified thus: The one that's common in southern India is Clamorous Reed Warbler Acrocephalus stentoreus. A bit out of its normal habitat (papyrus beds), so I'd suspect it's a recently arrived winter visitor from a bit further north that hasn't found its preferred habitat yet (that's probably why you've not seen one before!).  
With that clue, I checked it in the book which lists it as Great Indian Reed Warbler. An entry was there sans images.   So I added a few. [click].  That's how quick DG is!  A couple of images:

I missed where it flew off when I was looking at my camera for a couple of seconds.  The tailorbird had stopped shouting!  And I was lucky to be there when this arrived. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Playing with Bush-Cricket!

I was rearranging some old wood that was stocked in the yarden near the pond.  When I lifted a piece of wood, something like a grass-hopper jumped on to the ground. I noticed it was a 'Katydid'.  Katydids are not as profuse as grass hoppers.  It is a rare visitor, at least to my yarden.  

They are also known as 'long horned grass hoppers' and 'bush crickets' and it appears that there are numerous species.  I am yet to get this one accurately identified as of now.  I came to know that this is a Katydid, from Dave's Garden's Insect identification forum.  

A katydid is actually a friendly fellow. He can hop on to your finger and look at you in the eyes!  This post is full of pictures!  Entertain yourself.  The lovely insect entertained me this morning with its various poses!  This is not a fully mature insect.  Its wings are still growing.  Its green colour is amazing.  This was the colour of the scented eraser we used in school in the 60s and 70s.  It reminded me of those days!

It was hesitant at first, but crawled up.

Good early morning sunshine.  I let it climb on to an Agave leaf.

Looks like polishing his mantises with his 'right hand'!

I just played with Picasa and increased the 'shadow'. 

Like we people do sometimes - keep our palm against our chin and think!

See the hairs on the elbow!  Eyes looking directly!

Shall I jump?  Why did you leave me on this Agave leaf?  It has no flowers.

Before I jump, see the veining on my strong leg.  Thanks to the morning sun for lighting it.

Wait, let me think a bit.

Still thinking in another pose.

Now, it is time to jump.  But I am not afraid.


In a few moments, there he was among the grass blades, camouflaged. 

Bye and have a nice day!

Common grasshoppers in the yarden wont come near.  They hop away.  But Praying Mantises do play with us, like the katydid.  A couple of pictures.

This is an adult Katydid - picture taken in 2009, in the yarden.  They are seen occasionally.

This is a Praying Mantis. Another old picture.

 This is an Indian Flower Mantis seen in the yarden. It will turn its eyes and head towards you if you move left or right. It seems to watch the face. 


Friday, November 23, 2012

Golden bug rescue

I recently wrote a post telling how I rescued two insects.  I had forgotten about this one, which actually was before those.  After lunch, I casually walked up to my front yard. The sun was shining on the water kept in a green plastic mug.  I saw something glittering on the surface, as if it was a little golden bead on it!  The sun rays on it really made it glitter.  A close examination showed that it was a golden coloured insect, with a partially glass-like wings caught on the water surface and it could not free itself.  I had seen such a one before in my yarden but they are rare.  So I brought out the camera, took some images and let if fly away.

 Notice the water/surface it is floating on. 

A very small insect, flat in shape.

On Dave's Garden website, I got to get it identified as Mottled Tortoise Beetle.  I later added a couple of images to the database there. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Two little insects rescued

As I passed by a bucket of water kept near the washing area in the open central yard, I noticed something wriggling on the surface of water.  It needed a closer look.  There was this insect caught on water, about half an inch long.  It was a flying insect, I know not its identity.  I had not seen such insect with two black and white antennae in my yard before.  There were red or orange ones, but not with reddish legs and black and white body.  

I lifted the struggling little fellow out with my finger and placed it on a dry leaf to get itself dry faster!  Before I picked it up, I had brought out the camera.  In the excitement, I had failed to reset the ISO from 400 to 100.  A shot at the moon was tried last evening with a 400 setting.  As such, quality of pictures has suffered with 'digital noise'. 

It feels happy it feeling the warmth of the sun.  Water seems to be dripping from its abdomen. Good for it!

Held it in the sun for the water to dry up.  'Dry cleaning'!

"Now see how I perform 'bottom up' while I dry my abdomen by rubbing with my hind legs!"

It required more polishing to be able to take the next flight.
I was looking into my camera when it had vanished in a flash.  I turned back and looked at the nearby plant.  Wow, it was there on a green leaf!  Actually, it is a leaf of the 'Allspice' plant. 

I was saying to it 'Goodbye.'

I understood when it turned back to say 'Thank you!'

Then it crawled on my finger as if it understood my act of rescuing it.

There must have been still some traces of moisture on its abdomen. It was rubbing with the legs again.  A few seconds later, it was on its usual flight into the greenery.

o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o 

Last month, the same thing happened in the open yard. It was a Ladybug.  It had got trapped in rainwater that collected in a plastic lid from the previous evening's rain.  

The white background is the plastic lid.  I poured out the water.

Took it on my finger so that it would drip dry. 

It crawled along.

Since it was morning, the "Morning Glory" flower was open. It is a Scarlet O'Hara.  When I showed it to the bug, it got attracted to it and crawled on to it. 

By this time, most of the water had dripped off from its body.

It was freely crawling along.   I left it there and went in to prepare for the day that began with a happy beginning.