HIMALAYAS IN PINK

The Lower Himalayas from Sikkim till Uttrakhand are covered in a cloak of Pink  immediately after the lofty mountains are  touched by the first drizzle brought forth by the Monsoons.

The   Pink Rain Lily , Storm Lily , Rose Fairy Lily (English) , Zephyranthes rosea ( scientific name) bloom into vast stretches of Pink as the first rain drops touch the topsoil of The Himalayas.

The following picture  of a hillside covered with Pink flowers was taken in Kalimpong, West Bengal, India.

hills-and-lillies
Pink Himalayas

A close cousin the Zephyranthes candida  ( also called Rain Lily in English ) was seen by me in Pune and extensively covered in a previous blog titled “SIX POINTED STAR”. The dexterous labeling by the Gardners of The Corinithian Resort & Club, Pune   helped me discover the botanical name of these Pink Lilies.

However besides the difference in colour the Pink Rain Lilies on the Himalayas you see in the pictures here were growing in the wild in free abandon and in vast numbers carpeting the Hills in Pink.

lily-plant
Pink Rain Lilies in SunLight

The Pink Rain Lily like their close cousin The Six Pointed Star belongs to the Amarylis Lily family Amaryllidaceae.

These Beautiful Pink Flowers however hide a deep and dark secret in their bulbs which are hidden in the soil from which they spring forth as they contain deadly toxic alkaloids.

The alkaloids  lycorine and  haemanthamine  present in the bulbs can cause severe vomiting and convulsions and even lead to death .

a-pair-in-speckled-leaves
Speckled Leaves, Fallen Flowers and Lilies in Pink

If you read earlier blogs you will realize that many deadly toxins exist in their natural Form in Plants, yet these very toxins when used by professionals are converted into medicines and cure many ailments which affect us Humans.

After over a year of blogging and learning I am increasingly Enchanted by the numerous forms and ways of Wonderful Nature.

 

BLEEDING TREES

Once Upon a Time ,Wild Deer , Elephants and Tigers would have roamed these Hills now overtaken by domesticated Cattle and numerous “Crying Trees “.

The Para Rubber Tree ( English), Hevea brasinlliensis ( Scientific name)  was first planted in India by the British  from the Americas ( Brazil in South America)  in the early 20th Century .They felled the Naturally Occurring Rainforests and replaced them with Rubber Plantations to harvest Natural Latex. ( this act was replicated across South East Asia as well )

A  Rubber Plantation on the slopes of the Western Ghats in District Pathnamthitta, Kerala, India as it exists today after over 100 years.

This Plantation is close to the  Konni Elephant Rescue Centre  mentioned in previous blogs titled BABY ELEPHANTS and MAMMOTH BATH.

miles of rubber
Rubber Trees replaced Rainforests

The Rubber Trees in Plantations across Kerala are native to the Amazonian Rain forests and a  rich Natural Source of Rubber.

The trees are wounded by repeated Cuts to release a Milky latex which is collected in Coconut Shells.

Is it a wonder they are  called “Caotchoue” by the Native Americans which literally translates to Crying Tree.

bleeding
Bleeding and Bandaged Trees

As you can see in the picture above there are several angled cuts on the Trunks of the trees.

Vast Lands which once supported an astonishing range of Flora of Fauna were laid waste and replaced by Rubber Plantations to commercially harvest Natural Rubber which oozes from the Core of these Crying Trees.

The Milky Latex is collected in little Cups made from Coconut Shells.

drop by drop
Collection of the Sap

First the Rainforests were felled and replaced by Plantations, then the forest dwellers like the Elephants chained and finally the Trees were made to Bleed.

I understand that the closest competitor to Natural Rubber is Synthetic Rubber which is derived from Petroleum. Thus when the prices of Crude Oil fall so do the prices of Rubber.

As we all know Crude Oil prices are scraping the bottom of the Barrel and that spells a death Knell for the Rubber Plantations as well.

Is this the Revenge of the Bleeding Trees ?

 

BLUE- EYED CORMORANTS

The Chambal River Basin is unusual and host to numerous Unique species of Flora and Fauna. ( do check out previous posts titled CURSED YET ENCHANTED RIVER and GREAT CANYONS OF INDIA )

The Blue-Eyed Indian Cormorant ( English) , Pan Kowwa ( Hindi), Phalacrocorax fuscicollis ( Scientific name) resides in large colonies as can be seen in the picture below.

tree of comorants
Leafless Tree Covered by Indian Cormorants

Indian Cormorants can easily be confused with Lesser Cormorants , however the key distinguishing  factor are their Blue Eyes.

clustered on a tree
Cormorants enjoy the Morning Sun

Indian Cormorants inhabit Inland water bodies  like the Chambal River below, unlike the Greater Cormorants which are primarily seen on the Coasts of Oceans .

in flight over the chambal
Casting a Shadow over the pristine Chambal River

The picture below shows up the difficulties faced by amateurs like me in Identifying Birds. The Juveniles vary to the adults as does the Breeding Plummage.

The key characteristics of the Little Cormorant( English), Microcarbo niger ( Scientific name)  are exhibited by the Cormorant on the Left. It has black eyes and a brownish plumage and No Yellow Gular.( part near base of lower beak )

juvenile
Curious look of a Juvenile Cormorant or the Lesser Cormorant ?

The Sun lights up the Rocky habitat of the Indian Shag or Indian Cormorant . They flight past the Rocky Ravines  in search of Fish or a Mate.

in flight
In flight against the background of the Rocky Cliffs of the Vindhyas

The Indian Cormorants have no Oil Glands to waterproof their Feathers , unlike Ducks  and thus stretch out their wings to Sun Dry them. ( do see the featured Image)

 

close up
Blue Eyed  Adult in non-breeding Plumage

Am sorry to have made this post so lengthy, however was fascinated by numerous features of this bird called “Sea Crow” by scientists and ” Paan Crow “ by natives in India as well. Enchanting is it not?

HOME FLIGHT

Witnessing Birds in their Natural Habitats has an Enchanting charm which cannot be compared to a visit to a Zoo or even a Sanctuary.

Each moment is a Splendorous Surprise which cannot be predicted.

The Birds are totally free and in Harmony  with Nature. You can view them without hundreds of DSLRs clicking or gawking tourists.

The fast disappearing Wetlands near Greater Noida ( 40-50 kms from New Delhi)  are currently home to thousands of Migratory and Native Birds.

The photographs below capture the Sunset over one such wetland which is Home to numerous Painted Storks, Spoonbills, Stilts, Sarus Cranes ( we counted close to  50 cranes usually seen in twos or fours )  and many others.

end of day
Sun sets over a  Wetland near Greater Noida
black specs
Home Run as Light Fades
flock
The Ducks  flock to their Water World
night
Birds returning Home as the Light fades

The region has been earmarked for conversion into Highrise Residential and Commercial Buildings.

Thus unknown to the array of Water Birds the Sun will Set to an entirely different Landscape in the near Future and they will need to seek another Home.

THE LADY IN PINK

Goats (Capra aegagrus hircus) share a strong bond with their owners.

They trust them with their lives.

In these pictures the owner protects the goat  from the cold with a  pink crochet dress.

Hold it, do not be shy
Hold it, do not be shy

Pictures tell so many tales. The strong bond between the keeper and the Goat pours out of  the picture.It  lovingly nudges its head against the knee of the owner who hold it by its ears.

ALL EARS
ALL EARS

Have a look at this gentle and beautiful lady in pink. Look at the eyes .

Do observe how it’s hair has been braided and decorated as well.

See how one of the forelegs is but one step behind the other leg. So feminine, so dainty.

Does it know where it is being taken?

show your face pertty girl
show your face pretty girl

The picture shows the pots and pans of a famous shop selling an assortment of  Mutton dishes.

Mutton in India is usually not  Mutton from a  Lamb (Ovis Aries)  , it is the meat of THE GOAT.

Muttom Korma, Mutton Rogan Josh, Mutton Stew
Mutton Korma, Mutton RoganJosh, Mutton Stew

Had the Goat been ‘betrayed’ by the one it had trusted ?