OGLING IN THE FOREST

Whenever I see the THICK KNEE am reminded of the fairy tale RED RIDING HOOD and her remarks “what big eyes you have grandmother”. ( authors are permitted to spice up the story by giving the originals  a little twist  )

A  nocturnal  bird it prefers to hang around bushes , shrubs and trees during the day.

Thick Knee, Indian Stone Curlew, Burhinus indicus ( scientific) 

This one was spotted Ogling at the lake under a TREE.

framed
                                                                                         framed

A combination of large goggle eyes and the above mentioned habit of hanging around gives the appearance of this bird OGLING.

A resident bird to the dry deciduous forests of India it can be spotted even in the stunted forests of Delhi. I did see one in Asola Forest Reserve in New Delhi.

The little knot around the knee give it another uncomplimentary name, THICK KNEE.

goggle eyes
                                                             Goggle eyes

Sleeping or preening itself , Goggle eyes also has a large characteristic beak.

It is also called Indian Stone Curlew because of the characteristic wailing sound associated with Curlews.

Almost all pictures in  books and sources on the net show the plumage as brown or shades thereof.

However the pictures I have taken near a lake in Rajasthan show up the THICK KNEE more greyish or STONE coloured.

Asleep
                                                                            Asleep

The THICK knee or Stone Curlew  finds a place in many stories,  poems and even a movie.

Similar birds can be Spotted in Europe ( Eurasian Stone Curlew) and Africa as well.

REFLECTING HERONS

Panchtantra   are ancient Indian fables which have animals and birds  as the main characters and goes back to the 3rd Century BC.

You can see these fables inscribed in stone on ancient monuments or painted by artists over the centuries.

From these fables are derived morals or principles to be followed in life.

One such fable is based on The Heron and the Crab. The cornerstone of the story was Greed.

While reflecting on these ancient fables and the lessons they narrate

I  have carefully put together three pictures in this post  of the main character THE HERON.

Little Green / Little Heron/ Mangrove Heron  or Butorides striatus.

Extremely intelligent it is a skilled angler and lays a bait  of small twigs etc to lure in fish.

Have seen this beautiful Heron  only once, though marked   Least Concern by IUCN .

Green heron
Green heron

Purple Heron or Ardea purpurea. Anjun in Hindi .

The largest of the Herons selected it is seen across the country. It’s slender neck and distinctive colouration make it easy to identify.

Am sure you can identify it now in the featured picture though the light was against me.

They are solitary or territorial feeders and prefer water hyacinth beds .

Purple Heron
Purple Heron

Birds in Indian languages have interesting names and reveal intriguing characteristics and myths.

In Hindi the Indian Pond Heron is called Andha  Bagula. Andha means blind.

Indian Pond Heron/ Paddy birds  or Ardeola grayii.

You will see this Heron even in Urban areas around water bodies.

In flight it transforms itself into a beauty as it spreads its  white wings.

Pond Heron
                                                             Indian Pond Heron

Do observe the similarity in the eyes of the three Herons as they reflect on themselves.

Please revert with names and fables on these gorgeous birds photographed across the country.

Most of my articles are teasers with clues and links, please check on Wikipedia/ Google or even better try to spot them in your neighbourhood.

THE INVISIBLE PARTRIDGE

Take a quick glance at the picture below. Do you see more than twigs, dried grass and dried branches of trees?

This is the flooring  of a dry deciduous forest in the scorching heat of an Indian Summer.

Is it an Optical Illusion or a TRICK OF NATURE ?

Camouflage
                                                               Impressive Camouflage

A slight rustle as the dry twigs rub against each other and who do we see? None other than this lonely but plump  Partridge (  that is what is was called 25 or 30  years ago) till it was rechristened as THE GREY FRANCOLIN ( Francolinus pondicerianus) .

Fortunately it is still called Teetar in Hindi.

Aage Teetar
                                                                         Aage Teetar

From the spurs I  guess this Francolin or Teetar is a SHE.

Do see the incredible camouflage laid out by Nature for this Lady . There are  discernible shades of brown of the soil around much like the colours of the Francolin.

The twigs are laid out like the bars on its back making this bird virtually INVISIBLE

Peeche Teetar
                                                                             Peeche Teetar

The captions in the pictures above  are from a famous  classical BOLLYWOOD song of the 1960s  based on this innocuous bird THE TEETAR.

Profile
                                                                 Side Profile ( beech mein teetar) 

I took these picture in a forest while tracking and awaiting a  Tiger to emerge from the grasslands and walk to the Lake for a drink.

I must confess I have been party to many hunts of this bird and even devoured them 30 years ago.

In the Enchanting Forests every rustle , every  movement of a leaf  tells a magical tale.

BE SPELLBOUND.

THE JOY OF A MUD BATH AND A SWIM

India Wild Boar  (Sus scrofa cristatus) .

Pictures were taken in a FOREST  in Northern India inhabited by Tigers.

The  Indian Wild Boar loves having a mud bath and plays with a  Lapwing as well.

Do notice the brilliant camouflage as it blends with the surroundings.

Mud Bath
                                                                       Mud Bath

The  Male Indian Wild Boar can weigh upto 180 kgs ( 400 lbs)

Off for a swim
                                                  Pumba and his shadow

The little white tuskers are unique to the Male  Wild Boar. Related to the domestic pig it lives by itself except during the breeding season.

A few more steps to the pool
                                                       A few more steps to the pool

The Wild Boar  approaches the lake for a swim after the mud bath  as a Waterhen looks on.

Pumba ready to take a plunge
                                                 The Boar  looks bigger on account of the hair.

The main predator of a Wild Boar in Indian Forests is the TIGER ( Panthera Tigris).

The Wild Boar is famous as the favorite food of OBELIX  ( from the comics of ASTERIX)  and the delightful  PUMBA in the movie  Lion King. 

THE HOODED BANDIT

This very communicative Rufous Treepie was photographed deep in the Tiger Forests of Northern India.

The  Crow and the Rufous Treepie  (Dendrocitta vagabunda) belong to the same family Corvidae. Sounds a bit like  Mafia , what with  Family etc

This highly intelligent bird looks like a hooded bandit and speaks several languages ( has numerous calls) .

Perched in the trees the hooded bandit  keenly  looks out for all who cross its land.

Silhoutte
                                                                      Silhoutte

As the light improves I realize why it is called Rufous ( due to the tanned colour) .

Do note the trees have shed all their leaves.

Now see my clothes
                                                               Now see my clothes

This bold Treepie perches itself on the Safari Jeep and insists on having a look in our bags.

It is indeed a hooded bandit.

Show me the pictures
                                                                  Show me the goodies

Clinging onto the rubber trims of the windows it calls, no demands , for FOOD.

This is actually a result of  undesirable actions by tourists who visit the National Tiger Parks. Please refrain from feeding these birds.

Take a close up
                                                               Take a close up

The Rufous Treepie is native to the Indian Subcontinent and even visits my home in New Delhi.

However this hooded bandit was exceptional and have yet to meet one as TALKATIVE and DEMANDING.

Spot On

Spotted Dear ( English), Cheetal ( Hindi), Axis Axis ( Scientific name) .

Spotted in a Tiger Forest in India.

The Eyes say it all
                                                        The Eyes say it all

The Impressive Headgear is changed every hear.

Take a picture of my profile
                                            Take a picture of my profile

THE GOLDEN TOUCH

If you wish to be spellbound, see a Sunrise in this magical Forest in Rajasthan.

The first rays of the sun split the sky and form a halo around the heads of trees.

crack of dawn
                                                               crack of dawn

As the trees stretch their arms to greet the first rays of the SUN , the grassland below gradually turn into hues of Gold. The Sun is  playing the role of Midas ( the fabled king with THE GOLDEN TOUCH)

grass turn light gold
                                                       grass turns light gold

The halo is now around the hills, the trees shimmer in the golden light and the  Lakes turn into  liquid Gold.

touch of midas
                                                                  touch of midas

In the crack of dawn, a path emerges through the magical lakes, mountains and forests of this Tiger Forest.

a path emerges through the forest
a path emerges through the forest

A surprise awaits us as the sun lights up an Ancient fort ( now a UNESCO site) in the midst of this enchanting forest.

The Golden Touch of the Morning Sun  turns the entire mountain into a single hue, that of GOLD.

A UNESCO site: THE FORT
A UNESCO site: THE FORT

Am awestruck and can write no further. I leave you with these glorious sights witnessed at the crack of dawn.

IN THE MIDST OF TREES

Life in a forest revolves around trees.

The pictures that follow say so loud and clear.

The Cheetal or Spotted Deer ( Axis Axis) rests on a bed of leaves in the midst of trees.

stag
                                                                                Stag

Listen carefully, the Stag is saying something to the langurs above ? Watch how the sunlight filters through the trees.

Talking to me?
                                                          Quiet please, Siesta time

Our ancestors the Langurs ( Semnopithecus dussumieri) or Hanuman Langurs    in their tree house. 

langurs
                                                                    our ancestors

This Hanuman  Langur  hides  amongst the leaves of a tree  and keeps a careful lookout for predators. Their alarm calls  indicate a Tiger is close at hand.

hidden
                                                                     hidden

A grove of Jamun (Syzygium cumini )   trees provides a perfect playground for these peacocks

( Pavo cristatus) .

hide and seek
                                                                    hide and seek

New friendships in the thick of a forest.

forest
                                                                  enchanting  forest

A dove ( can you spot it ? )  keeps a Woolly Necked Stork (Ciconia episcopus)  company.

stork
                                                                               A woolly necked stork

The descendants of the apes try to make a “home,  of a tree” .

the descendants
                                                                                   the descendants

A HAIR RAISING EXPERIENCE

Butterflies are  beautiful  and delicate signages posted by Nature.

Very often we miss the undergrowth and  wildflowers in our search for the large mammals in forests.

Keep an eye out for butterflies  and you will see how nature  magically casts a spell on the forest itself. Enchanting, is it not?

wildflowers
Wildflowers

They indicate the health of  a Forest, in this case the Satpura National Park.

A delicate touch and the bristles or hair on the stems of these wildflowers are all attention.

a delicate touch
a delicate touch

Do notice the hair on the stem of the flowers.

Please identify.