An old entry about watching birds and butterflies at BNHS-CEC, Mumbai
Date: Saturday 11 October, 2010
Time: 8 am
Trail taken: No specific trail. Attempted to go along the Temple trail but found it too overgrown to proceed further. Walked along the forest road.
The first thing i noticed at CEC was the innumerable butterflies that thronged the cox comb and wild bhindi bushes that greeted me at the gates of the National Park. The Orange tips (both yellow and white) abound in plenty. A Blue Tiger floated gracefully past me and lay basking on a stalk of the Cox Comb. The temperamental Psyche delicately hung about the sidelines. The forest was teeming with land crabs, rustling their way to a better hideout whenever my heavy footsteps disturbed their peace. I must confess, the rustling did startle me every now and then, until i got used to spotting a tiny crab scurry past into the grass cover.
I was in the mood for birding, so i chose the Temple Trail. However, i was disheartened for the trail had been entirely covered up by the monsoon shrubbery. After a few attempts at trying to make my way through the thick bushes, i headed out for the forest road, hoping to improve my luck. It proved to be a wise choice.
The call of the Brown headed Barbet echoed throughout the forest. A Common Iora kept up a constant stream of calls- first mimicking the Puff throated Babbler, then a long whistle followed by a short trilling song. The Common Tailorbird made its presence felt in the nursery outside the CEC building. I walked along and was quite excited to notice a Purple Sunbird (as also the Purple rumped Sunbird) near the patch of Gliricidia trees. On returning to the forest road, i heard the distinctive ttree-ttree and looked up to see a flock of Green Bee Eaters dive around cheerfully, hunting insects on the wing.
It was close to 9am by now and the road was filled with butterflies. The Common Crow, Common Mormon, Common Rose, Tailed Jay, Chocolate Pansy in addition to the Psyche, Blue Tiger and the Orange Tips flitted from flower to flower, filling the forest with a splash of colours and a tinge of beauty. As i was walking, i noticed a butterfly sitting with its wings closed on a blade of grass. On closer inspection, i realized it was a Leopard butterfly. And to the end of its abdomen was attached another Leopard butterfly! I looked at the pair of mating insects in awe, and in a while both of them took off into the air, one of them flapping its wings and elegantly carrying away the other butterfly still attached to it.
And so i proceeded towards CEC again where there suddenly seemed to be a lot of bird activity. The brown headed barbet, the common iora kept up their orchestra. To the music was joined the twittering of sunbirds and the chatter of a pair of birds that darted past in the undergrowth. They were dull blue above and atleast one of them had a speckling of white-grey underneath. The birds dived fast and deep into the thicket and spotting them was proving difficult. I was distracted by a movement nearby and on focussing my binoculars, I spotted the juvenile Asian Paradise Flycatcher! It was a momentary glimpse for the very next moment, the magnificent rufous bird flew off, its stunning long tail trailing behind it. I returned back to the task at hand, and after some minutes of patient waiting and watching, i was awarded by the clear black nape and white chest that helped me identify the pair of birds as a the Black naped Monarch(s).
Happily i trudged along back to the gates, spotting the young one of a Brahminy Skink on the way. I was greeted by the Green bee eaters again on my way out and the Ashy Prinia kept paee-paeeing its goodbye. The Common Gull butterfly had come out into the sun by then and so had a battered up Lemon Pansy. A tiny gecko (lizard) buff brown body, with a yellow strip extending over its body into dashes along its tail scampered into the grasses. (No id)
I tried to do a little more birding by turning towards the exit of the Temple Trail, unfortunately I was unable to proceed further. However, I did see the Blue Oak Leaf butterfly coasting past me- a flash of blue and it was gone. A frog darted past me in the undergrowth. I also came across a moth caterpillar- 5cm long, pale yellowish white, hairy, with two sets of black dots along its side. (id?)
The day ended well with a Commander butterfly making an appearance in my college. All in all, a good start- or should i say ‘restart’?
Ramblings on wildlife sharing spaces with non-wild humans