Saturday, December 28, 2013

Dinu's Eden Board in new place

Termites had attacked the pole and even climbed up to the board already weather beaten for 100 years.  I had wanted to move it since long, but where?  Now I found a necessity and a new place for it.

This is where it was.  

The base of the pole had been chewed by termites and it was standing precariously.  I thought I was in time to save it.  When I examined it while removing, the back of it had been hollowed in many places.  It has some more life left.  

See the black line across and above the compound?  That is the new telephone cable pipe I put up with the help of cousin Subbu. The old cable runs across the yarden you see here.  Just out of picture on top.  I wanted to have it in proper condition.  So I requested our old neighbour Upendra who is in the telephone dept. to get some cable which he did a month ago.  He will be requested to connect the ends now that the cable is in place. Why that old cable was across the yarden is another story I will not touch. 

Now that cable had to cross the yarden passage.  My plan to have something like an arch near the gate and bird bath was long standing.  So this need gave me the shot in the arm to also display the weather beaten board differently.  There were two important needs.  1. To support the telephone cable [instead of it loosely hanging] that had to cross the passage and 2. To display the 'Dinu's Eden' board there. 

I got two termite eaten wood pieces salvaged from the other half of the property while the building was being torn down.  The pole wood was made to fit into the GI pipe supporting the gate and another piece across on top connecting the wall. 

View from the other side - see the cable pipe - rather crude looking at this time.  I ruled out the underground method, but in the end chose the overhead one. Ah, here in these two pictures you can see the old cable across, running haphazardly.  That will be removed once Upendra connects the new cable. 

Just another photo. 

Due to winter, yarden is dry-looking. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Common Jezebel Eclosion

Watching the eclosion of Plain Tiger Butterfly is still fresh in mind.  

I happened to notice a caterpillar on the compound wall close to the Fiddlewood Tree. This was on 11th December.

It was not moving.  Next day, I saw it still in the same position, but it seemed to be sticking silk at its rear end, which I felt was upside down.  So with the knowledge given by my Mexico-living friend, Beverly, I now knew it was preparing itself for making its chrysalis.

 On 13th December morning I rushed to see how it was.  Lo, it had already made a chrysalis. It was still settling itself in, making itself comfortable, just like we settle in our bed covering with a rug in winter!! It had made just a few minutes ago, or so I felt. 

On 14th morning again, I checked.  It had settled nicely.  Since I had spotted the empty chrysalis of the Common Jezebel recently, I guessed this was also a caterpillar of the Jezebel.

The chrysalis was just below the corniced top of the compound wall. I felt a need to give some protection from the birds as it was prominent.  I had hung up a cloth covering shielding its view. I kept a watch every day.  On 22nd December evening, I checked for any change in colour.  There was a hint which meant that eclosion would be very very soon.  Beverly had written it would be about 7 days.

Today, 23rd December, first thing in the morning, I went to see. There were wing patterns visible through the now transparent chrysalis.  
I was worried about its upside down position.  So I removed it carefully and hung it with a thread. 

Since it was 8.40 am it was late.   So I rushed in for my quick ablutions. When I was about to leave for work, I saw that it had already showing its wings!!  I rushed in again to take a picture and ran in to keep the camera back in.  I buttoned my shirt while leaving in a hurry!  I was yet again, Dagwood Bumstead. 

My guess was on dot.  It is indeed a Common Jezebel.  

There was the second one below the compound cornice again.  Yesterday I knew it would emerge today.  It was in its chrysalis on 21st December morning.  Today, 24th, it emerged.  Just 4 days.  Cool temperatures. I was there as if waiting for the moment. 8.10 am.  Hand held, I shot a series of pictures at intervals for about 15 minutes and then went for breakfast.  See the "slideo" - this is another new word I coined just now!! Howzzat?  See: [Click}

My tying with the thread was perhaps needless, because this one came out from the horizontal position quite smoothly.

There was a third chrysalis close by.  Pictured this on 17th December. It was fresh and fine.

Look at its fate this evening when I went to check.  It was fine and still green in the morning.  Ants had attacked it. It should have emerged soon, see its colouring.  So with that, one beauty less in nature, but that is part of Nature.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Some random updates from the Yarden

Some activity happened in the last couple of weeks.  Some of them I bragged, nay, blogged in other posts.   Here are some random selections:

This is the backdoor facing the tool shed.  It cried to be painted since 40 years.  The cry was finally heard but it got its due in its different location.  I did a small pavement leading to the Yarden from this door which I showed in my other blog. The wall around this door also needed to be painted for the first time being a new wall.

Having bought a packet of seeds at the Lalbag Nursery as Mexican Sunflower, I expected it to bloom in red, but this turned out to be yellow.  Checked the web and found that there was also the yellow and I did not know it!! But this is profusely blooming. 

Drier months of winter [December-January] will encourage pests.  Some plants are prone to be attacked. This is the Gaillardia flower.  The ant needs its sweet substance and it knows it has a supply on mealybugs already appeared.

The favourite Jaquemontias are all in nice bloom. This is near the gate.

This is beside the pond.

One climbing another arch near the pond.

There was some work that needed bricks, to keep stone slabs like seats/benches for the new house also.  So when I was with the brick dealer, I just asked him where we could get some 'cement pots' because that was also the plan when we embarked on this trip to the Ring Road.  I needed those pots.  He showed in some direction that someone sells them there and quickly added that he had some clay pots if I needed them. We were shown one sample and were told that there were a hundred in stock on the balcony.  This was almost just the size I had in mind, probably a shade bigger would have been better, but I thought of buying them.  The bricks were already ordered.  I  chose ten pots by checking if there was any crack because they were from a place called "Kundapur" which is near the west coast, some 200 kms away.  Soon the bricks and pots were on their way in a three-wheeler luggage vehicle.  I do not have enough soil for these.  Have to buy new red earth when I start to use them for the next season.  It cost eighty rupees each.  They look good.

 A caterpillar was spotted on the compound wall.  In two days, it had made a chrysalis.  It should be of the Common Jezebel which I showed in my recent post.  I will watch this out in the next two days.

Firewood stock was getting low.

So I borrowed Ramu's saw again to the the branches I had brought down with the same lovely saw some weeks ago. This time I took a close-up of the teeth to see why the saw saws nicely! 

The bigger pieces had to be chopped with an axe.  I have a vintage axe that is heavy.  Its edge is blunt and has a curvy handle made from a guava branch.  Because of its curvy shape, sometimes I miss the mark as the axe itself is heavy and it takes a slight tilt while it is coming down. I had to compensate by holding the grip more firmly.

Chickpea season has begun and this is the first supply.  Almost always, these caterpillars are found as chickpeas are host to certain butterflies or moths. 

I noticed some leaves of the almond tree being cut in the edges.  I could see something from below.  I pulled the branch down to see what it was.  I now think it is a bunch of some butterfly eggs covered by something.  I see one egg on the left.  Have to wait and see.

While inside, something sweeter is happening. 


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Plan Tiger Butterfly Laid Eggs

This time I was having a dose of my post-breakfast coffee when I went near the pond.  I happened to observe the Plain Tiger fluttering about, sitting on a plant for a second and changing its place to other spots, but it was coming often to the Asclepias plants where quite a few of these had emerged from the chrysalis. Now the Asclepias plants - I have four young plants - are throwing up new leaves after those caterpillars completely devoured all the leaves. 

I noticed that this Plain Tiger when it was sitting on the edge of leaves, it was curling its abdomen and touching the undersides with the tip.   I thought it must be laying eggs.

I went closer and examined one such leaf.  Lo and behold!  There was a tiny tiny egg.  

I carefully checked other leaves and there were many such tiny creamish eggs!  I saw it laying one on the stem.

That is the egg. 

The tiny new caterpillars that will come out will know food will be right there! New leaves are appearing.  They leave the eggs where food for the caterpillars will be available very close as they will be quite tiny.  

This is of course the female butterfly.  Note the 3 dark spots clearly visible here.  The male will have one more spot. See next picture of a male just emerged.

Another shot of  that female taking a pause between egg-laying flights. By this time, I had fully emptied my coffee.

I'll be watching the tiny eggs. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Common Jezebel Butterfly

I was familiar with the Common Jezebel since a few years.   When it flutters high near the tiny flowers up on our tall Fiddlewood Tree, I can recognize this.  It neither comes down much nor sits anywhere on smaller flowering plants closer to the ground, at least as far as I have observed in the last 5-6 years.  So I had to content with long shots.

Remember to click on pictures to get enlarged views.

This was really high up, zoomed to the camera's max.  So is the picture below.  Both shots of Fiddlewood flowers.  They love its nectar and the flowers are very fragrant.

On 23.11.2007, I saw one just above my eye level resting on a big leaf of the Almond Tree.  This was the first time I was getting a close look. And I had the camera on hand.  Slowly, slowly I approached it closer.  It stayed still.  I was like a thief looking to rob some macro photo-shoots!   I kept clicking lest it should fly, until my camera lens was as close as two inches!   I wondered why it was so still!  A little while later, I guessed that it must have become a butterfly just then after I saw [by enlarging the shot I took up close, on camera playback] the fresh matt-finish wings getting to dry.  This was the shot.

I had shared with Dave's Garden one more shot that I cropped, showing only the wing colours and pattern.  A friend, very impressed, by name Nancy saw my posting.   Soon, I was sending her a couple of good resolution photos because she wanted to use one of the pictures as a special greeting card.  She was kind enough to print and send me 4 of them with different colour backgrounds. Here is one:

This post is dedicated to Nancy Polanski, because the Common Jezebel always reminds me of her beautiful gesture and greeting card.  

Let us come to the present now.


Four days ago, i.e., on the morning of 21.11.2013, I went to the stone bench beside the pond, with coffee in hand as is my wont,.  This magnificent butterfly was on the leaf of Jaquemontia growing on the arch next to the pond.  As I sat, it was in level to my shoulder.  So I now knew - from the Plain Tiger experience - that this was another newly emerged butterfly if it were to sit still like that and that too so near to ground level.  This time, I had to run in and return with the camera.  What followed for the next 45 minutes was joy.  My coffee got cold mid way.  

This was where I spotted it.

There was one empty chrysalis seen towards the left here but that was of the Plain Tiger. I was to discover its chrysalis the next day. I wanted to have close shots but there were shadows where it was. So I held a dry leaf at its feet.  It crawled up on it.  I carried it slowly and held it up in sunlight.  I allowed it to crawl on to an Agave leaf.  But it could not hold on.  It fell down from there after I took a few quick shots.  I suddenly remembered Beverly [from the post on Plain Tiger].  She had written that these will need to 'hang' down in which position fluid from the abdomen runs freely into the wings and make it rigid for flight.   I also observed later that its feet are hook-like at the tip to enable them to hang and grip. 

I now had brought out the Canon with the 250mm lens also, to get a few shots with a background like this:

I picked the fallen Jezebel with my finger.  It crawled up and then transferred to a blade of grass. 

I took a macro shot of its face also, with the camera lens almost touching the antenna.

I took shots in all sort of lighting while I made sure it stayed face up.  It flew and sat on the gate as if to test its wings.

Newly painted gate, retains its sheen!

Picked it up on the grass again.  This time, for a back-lit shot of the wing, held against the sun.

Newly opened wings will appear like freshly pressed shirts opened from its folded state and will have pronounced mat finish.  The latter is not noticeable to the naked eye.   Thanks to technology we are able to see so much beyond the eye's ability.  So do not forget to click on the picture below.

I wished it good luck and good bye and went my way, leaving it safe and comfortable on some plant.

Next morning, I went back to the place where I had found it, in search of its empty chrysalis.  There it was, just where it lay hung.  It was beneath the leaf.  Before that, I had googled to see how it looked.  So I had an idea. Here it is:

Thank you Nancy and Beverly.