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Hiking at Valley School

Last Sunday morning, we went on a hiking trip to Valley School, Bangalore. The area outside the Valley School campus has a variety of habitat for different types of birds and critters. There are grassland, scrub and even a bamboo habitat with a small stream traversing through. Here's a photo tour of the hike...



The beautiful sunrise...








Green Bee-eater...





The terrain...



The climb...


Red-vented Bulbul...



The ants retrofitted a custard apple to construct a heart shaped nest...


Heart shaped leaves...



A Black kite was seen perched high on a tree...


They are known to be attracted to smoke and fires, where they seek escaping prey...


Here, it was seen tenderly nibbling at the flowers, which is not its usual food...


Australian natives believe that kites spread fires by picking up burning twigs and dropping them on dry grass...


It gave me so many angles to shoot...





They are known to even eat household refuse and carrion. For this behaviour they are known in British military slang as the shite-hawk...


The bamboo habitat where I saw a peafowl vanishing in a jiffy...


Crossing the small stream...





Date palm flowers...


Another Green Bee-eater...


Exploring life at Hoskote

Last Sunday morning, father and son explored the wilderness around Hoskote lake in Bangalore. Here's a photo tour...



A Spot-billed Pelican was seen gently swimming in the water...


A Grey Heron looked so elegant in flight...


Kid used the high platform to explore the lake below...


Soon a Eurasian Coot came near...


Eurasian Coot's white frontal shield gave rise to the phrase "as bald as a coot"...


The Coot is an omnivore. Here, it was seen catching a small worm...


Indian Robin...



A fisherman in a coracle...


He checks the pregnancy lump below the abdomen...


He releases the pregnant fish to preserve fish stock...



White-browed Wagtail...



Indian Signature Spider Argiope Anasuja...


The yellow markings on its abdomen resembled a cool dude wearing sunglasses...


Indian Pond Heron...



Squirrel...


Pied Bushchat male...


Hiking tripod came in handy for some relaxation...


As we were relaxing, a Wood Sandpiper showed up...




Black Kite...


Balloon Vine also known as Love in a Puff or Heartseed vine...


Upon bursting the balloon we found why it's called Love in a Puff. Its seed has a heart shaped pattern. That explains its scientific name, Cardiospermum: Cardio meaning heart and spermum meaning seed...



Boy took a couple of seeds home, and sowed them in a flower pot. Two days later, the Balloon Vine seedling pops out...


Further studies revealed that in New Zealand, balloon vines are prohibited pest plants while in Kerala its flowers are considered sacred. 
Wikipedia says - "Extractions of Cardiospermum seed are included in skin creams that claim to treat eczema and other skin conditions." 

Blogger, Ramya Venkateshwaran, has listed out the health benefits of the Balloon Vine leaves that is claimed to be beneficial in treating arthritis, cough and cold, dandruff, ear pain and all kinds of pain. You can read her blog post here.

Visit to Hulimangala

Sunday morning trip to Hulimangala avenue and lake in Bangalore turned out to be really interesting. I could introduce many new wonders of nature to my 11 year old and he surprised me with a few pleasant discoveries. Here's a photo tour...


Hulimangala avenue is located 38 Kms from my home in Bangalore. We set out early morning and reached Hulimangala at 6:45 AM, just as the sun came out...


First sighting of the day was a Grey-bellied Cuckoo Blue faced Malkoha restlessly moving around high up on a tree...



The Grey-bellied Cuckoo Blue faced Malkoha's tail was really impressive... (Thanks Arnab for the correction)



There was this tiny Spotted Owlet peeping from a tree cavity...


Kid was spotting things that interested him using his monocular...


He was fascinated by an enormous beehive...



He also found a fallen wax structure of a beehive. He wanted to take it home...


Later in the evening, we made organic lip balm using the bee wax. Here's how - wash the hive and melt it in a double boiler. Add cold pressed olive oil, raw honey and peppermint oil. Keep stirring until the mixture cools...


An Indian Grey Hornbill perched far away on a tree...



The avenue is lined with tall trees on one side. On the other side of the road is a lake. We crossed the road to walk along the lake...


The kid spotted these numerous Baya Weaver bird nests on a palm tree...



As we neared the lake, a Red-wattled lapwing flew around screaming "pity to do it...pity to do it"...


Adults near the nest usually fly around, diving at potential predators while calling noisily...

The agitation prompted four cattle egrets to fly away...

Balloon Vine...



Dried balloon vine...


A male Ischnura Senegalensis damselfly...
Oxen ploughing field...
This was the first time he was seeing a farmer and his oxen in action...

We watched them for sometime...
Common Sailor butterfly...
Eurasian Coot...
Female Ischnura Senegalensis damselfly...

Closeup of its head...

Bird watching is fun in a group. There are always a few guys who spot birds with ease...
Calotropis Gigantea or Milkweed...
Calotropis is a poisonous plant. The leaves and stem when incised yield thick milky juice. It is used as an arrow poison, cattle poison, rarely for suicide and homicide...
Female Pied Bushchat...
We spotted a Green Jewel Bug...
Here are a few macro shots of the Green Jewel bug clicked while it was running around... 






Mexican Prickly Poppy...
Brown Bush butterfly...

Here's the Brown Bush with open wings...

I was happy to spot this Brown Shrike. It is a migratory species seen here during winter. They are known as "Butcher Birds" because of their feeding habits. They feed mainly on insects and sometimes lizards and small birds. Like other shrikes, they impale prey on thorns...  
Hunger pangs forced us to call it a day. But as we were leaving, we were treated with the sight of a female Senegal Golden Dartlet damselfly...  

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