16th October 2010, CEC
This Saturday I reached CEC marginally early, in a desperate attempt to manage to spot more birds than before. I guess I was successful, but only partially.
Even before I could reach the SGNP gates, I caught sight of a dove sitting on an exposed branch some yards away. A closer look with my binoculars showed a brown body with distinct green wings. Being accustomed to misidentifying the laughing/spotted doves, I first looked for the spots on it's neck and having been satisfied that there were none, I continued with my inspection. I am assuming that it must have been an emerald dove, for the other characteristics match it's description in books, except for the white bands on it's tail.
I walked along, noting the absence of the orange tips on the road and attributing it to the early hour of my visit. On entering the national park- CEC land, I was greeted by the Common Iora calling lustily from amongst the dense trees. The Oriental Magpie Robin, always seen at the gates, seems to have moved inside and the pair flew about from tree to tree with harsh grating calls. The Black-naped Monarch family was also present and this time I noticed more than non male member (I haven't yet been able to find the description of it's juvenile- so I can't decide for sure whether it's a female or it's juvenile). The Psyche butterfly was up early and accompanied me as I spotted the Red Whiskered Bulbul give out it's metallic call from a bamboo shoot nearby. I also noticed the 'foam insect' as I call it, which builds it's nest by it's spittle on the leaves of bushes.
There were plenty of Black Drongos in the forest and once I think I even spotted the Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, but it disappeared before I could have the satisfaction of having identified the magnificent bird properly. Again, the forest floor was crawling with crabs. The Blue Tiger and the Common Mormon butterflies had started coming out. I reached the patch near the Gliricidia trees and I must have approached rather clumsily for in a split second,a pair of fowl darted into the undergrowth. They must have been foraging nearby and I guess I gave them quite a start. For my part, I could just notice that they were brown in colour, the size of hens, and their calls were something similar to ' krakaka krakaka krakakakaka'. I saw one of the pair again as it flew into a tree, crossing the forest road in it's flight. Thus, I identified my first pair of Red Spurfowl.
Later the bushes lining the forest road began playing host to a number o butterflies- Chocolate Pansy, Orange Tips, Grass yellow, Common Hedge Blue, ceruleans, Lemon Pansy, Common Gull, Common Rose and the Glassy Tiger.
I made another foray into the Temple Trail and though I was greeted with mosquito stings and thorny shrubs, I spotted the male Shikra perched on a leafless branch in the quarry. As I approached the clearing, it flew off, but I still managed to get a look at it for identification- crow sized, buff brown wings and yellow legs, alongwith the shape of it's wings.
And I finally manage to spot the Common Iora this weekend. The bird teases you continuously with a range of calls starting with a high whistle (which i recently learned is its alarm call) then a trilling song and of course, the favorite of the iora on the Cec land- a perfect imitation of the puff throated babbler's 'i will beat you'. This species can get very well camouflaged in the trees and it took me quite a bit of patience before I could spot the male- complete with the yellow body, black striped wings and a white patch on those wings.
Needless to mention, the Brown headed Barbet kept up it's calls throughout the morning. The Green Bee Eaters too seemed to be up early, launching sallies into the air and adding to the morning orchestra with their cheerful chirping.
There is a patch of three to four bushes near the gates blocking the forested road at CEC that always has plenty of butterlfies hovering around. Those most commonly seen are the Chocolate Pansies and the Common Gulls.
I saw the Common Pierrot outside the gate. I also identified the Common Small Flat- a tiny brown butterfly with two minute white ribbons and two more minute white spots on boh wings. It is found to visit bird droppings, and indeed, when I saw it, it was resting on a leaf with a dropping on it.
On my way out I spotted a Great Orange Tip hanging down from the web of a giant spider. (around 6cm in length, body 3 cm, 2 white dots on each of it's front and back legs). There was no distinctive 'signature' of the signature spider on the web. The Orange Tip looked quite amusing hanging down by a wisp of a thread. The antenna of this butterfly was curled inwards.
All in all it was a rewarding one and a half hours- plenty to learn and lots more to enjoy!
Ramblings on wildlife sharing spaces with non-wild humans