2nd Sunday: Ants, Spiders and the Birds (14th Jan 2024)

Prashanth MB

February 21, 2024

Praying mantis and the weaver ant – screen grab from Harish’s video

The route and trail we follow during the outings at Lalbagh can be very repetitive and could well be a boon for some people who join in late. Over the years, we’ve even thought that it is makes sense to stack up the lists we compile to arrive at occurring frequencies, since we follow the same route each time year after year. Last Sunday, though, was a bit different, and we had Ajay Narendra and Dinesh Rao who would be talking about the ants and the spiders, so much of the group hung around where we started and never really wandered too far away. As a result, it was almost an hour and half when Swamy tapped my shoulder and said – inna west gate kaanta idyo! We never really had budged from where we started.

Many young people had turned up, and MBK would have a better count with his pictures. 😉 Children gathered around to see the swarming ant colonies and a lurking spider, while Prasad and Swamy took us in a direction not too far from the west gate.

It was a different outing in many ways, the usual Magpie Robins which herald the walk on the bamboo clump near the culvert or the Owlets at the java fig were not the ones to catch our sight. Instead, it was a party of Flycatchers and Leaf warblers which went on and on with their merry ways, well past the misty morning as most beginners had an exercise on training their binoculars on the flittering canopy birds. It was’nt easy for anybody who hadn’t done it earlier, and the other garden birds could be spotted too.

Flycatchers – both Paradise and Monarch, along with Grey Tits and Leaf warblers.

Leaf warblers – many Greenish and a few Bright Greens, the Western crowned and lovely views of at least two Tickell’s Leaf Warblers made the morning. A possibility of seeing a Large-billed and the others were debated, but never confirmed.

A Coucal running around on the lawn, and peeking into a crevice was a sight and wasn’t the usual tree-hopping Coucal for people to see as it would sulk away from moving people.

Kids who wanted to see the waterbirds walked up to the corner to the silt pond to see them lined up on the grill and the wall, as if they were models walking on the ramp and lined up one next to the other. The Stilt’s leg length could be compared to the Green Sandpipers and so was the Egret and the Painted Stork, all in a single line on the paved silt pond wall. An Egret, a Stork, and the three Cormorant species in varying numbers had lined up too, all in a parade on the grill meant to hold rubbish from the storm water drain. A White-breasted Kingfisher was competing for a brilliant colors trophy as it was perched on a blooming Pink Tabebuia (avellanedae). A Spotted Owlet finally didn’t disappoint and caught Kishan’s eyes. I missed listening to the kli kli kli call of the Booted eagle, but the pale morph in the bright light was another confirmation of its continued presence well into the peak of winter.

The trees like the Bilimbi that was chopped down and the Salix tetrasperma which once adorned the silt pond and has now vanished made nothing but a feel of tombstones around the place. Harish and co finally chose the chain link fence to watch a combat between a preying weaver ant and a Praying Mantis, and well past the usual time by which we wind up and head to the hotel.

It wasn’t until later in the evening, when I decided to plot the effective area (a vague approximation from the trail) we watch, survey or scan for birds and other creatures during the walks. I picked the old route from the glass house, the new trail from the west gate fountain and the patch we had walked on the day, with the sizeable part of the lake we could cover each time. And, much to my surprise, the area of the patch was nothing more than 30–35 acres across all three plots and a mere ~15% of the total 215 acres of Lalbagh. A higher proportion of the wetland would be covered, though, due to better visibility either when we walk along the bund or rarely along the periphery.

Images below –an approx. plot of the effective area covered during the walks

To cite this page: 2024. 2nd Sunday: Ants, Spiders and the Birds (14th Jan 2024). https://wp.me/pehmXN-RH. Accessed on 2024-02-21.

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