Tuesday, 4 November 2014

A meet for spider enthusiasts

Are you an enthusiast or budding photo naturalist interested in learning more about spiders? Here's your chance to learn more about spider biology and how to document spiders. The Vidhyanagar Nature Club in association with India Biodiversity Portal and the French Institute of Pondicherry are organising a two day workshop on 22nd and 23rd November, 2014 in Gujarat. Places are limited. The program will be limited to a maximum of 30 participants. If interested please send an email to info(at)vncindia.org with a half a page note on why you would like to participate in this workshop. See the below poster for further details.


Saturday, 25 May 2013

Video of the Heart-spotted Woodpecker (Hemicircus canente)

On a recent visit back to Karimanoor, A pair of Heart-spotted Woodpeckers were quite actively present around the house.


These normally shy birds were happy to move around in close proximity to the house and human presence and managed to give some good photo opportunities.


On top is the male with a black forehead, while below is the female with a white forehead.


What was a rare sighting earlier has become more common. I guess this is a breeding pair that is nesting somewhere in the vicinity.


I even had time to switch to video and follow their movements for a while. The video is displayed on top.



Sunday, 3 February 2013

Little egret

The Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) is a small Heron, about 25 inches tall. It has long legs and long neck and is all white in plumage color.


It has a black beak in all seasons and is small in size. The black color of the beak is opposed to that found in the cattle egret and reef egrets, which never have black beaks. The former always has yellow and in the latter, it may be grey or white. The intermediate egret and the great egret have black beaks only in the breeding season. It is otherwise yellow.


In addition this species possesses long black legs but its feet are yellow. During the breeding season, breeding adults develop two long, slender nape plumes. The subspecies Egretta grazetta grazetta which is found in India has a grey-green patch of skin between the bill and eyes. In breeding pairs this becomes a bright red or blue colour.


The little egret is generally found throughout India, around water bodies, often in small parties, wading around shallow water or in grass. It is thought to be dependent on sight for locating its prey and thus prefers clear water.


It generally feeds on fish but takes insects, crustaceans and molluscs too. They are known to run within water with raised wings to dislodge fish from their hideouts.


It breeds in groups on trees, usually in the company of other herons and ibises. Its breeding season varies from July/august in northern India and December in south.


Seen at Rachenalli lake, Jakkur, Bangalore on 3rd Feb on a foggy morning.


Friday, 30 November 2012

Tail-less Whip Scorpions (Amlypygids)


Featured in these images are creatures known as Amblypygids. A creature belonging to the same class as spiders and scorpions – Arachnida.

Amblypygids are also called as Whip Spiders or Tailless Whip Scorpions. They however, lack the tail that is present in scorpions and whip-scorpions.

The Amblypygi have a set of long spiny pedipalps extending out in front of them. These are used for predation to seize prey such as crickets, spiders, moths etc. Although they look scary, they are harmless to humans.

They are mostly nocturnal and hide under, barks or logs or leaves at daytime. They walk sideways with their long front legs extended and when they catch prey with these, they are torn up with their chelicerae (jaws). Their long pedipalps are also sensory in nature.

After mating, eggs are carried by the mother Amblypygid and when the young ones hatch, they climb onto the mother’s back and are carried by her until the next moult.

More on Amblypygids


Saturday, 25 August 2012

Malabar Pit Viper

The Malabar Pit Viper (Trimeresurus malabaricus) is also sometimes referred to as the Rock viper or the Malabar rock pitviper.


It is a venomous species of snake belonging to the Crotalinae or the pit viper family. The Crotalinae are characterised by the presence of  a triangular head and heat-sensing pit organs located between the eye and the nostril on either side of the head. The pits are openings to a pair of very sensitive infrared detecting organs, which helps them to find the small warm-blooded prey on which they feed.


They are found  in Southwest India in the Western Ghats between elevations of 600-2000 m and are typically abundant during the monsoon season. These snakes are mostly nocturnal, preferring to find a cool spot where the bask during the day time. The chosen spot is usually a favourite to which it returns day after day.


Even though they become active at night, they are by nature ambush predators, and will wait patiently for the prey to come to it rather than stalk the prey. Once the prey is near enough, the snake strikes with alarming speed and injects its venom.


The bite of this snake is generally not life-threatening. The venom may cause pain and swelling but is known to subside after a day or two. The reason for this may be the small doses of venom injected per bite. However, the bite may be more dangerous in children.


Several colour morphs are commonly observed in this species, including yellow, green and brown. The reasons for the different morphs and their contributions to its ecology are unknown.


These pit-vipers are egg-laying and are thought to engage in guarding their eggs as well. Very little is known about the ecology of this species and more studies are required to uncover the habits of this snake.

  Sighting Information:
Location: Agumbe
Date: 22nd and 23rd June 2012
Time: Various times
Weather: Monsoon rains
Other Details: The pictured images are of three different individuals from three locations within Agumbe Rainforest Research Station.


Saturday, 11 August 2012

Brown-cheeked Fulvetta


The Brown-cheeked Fulvetta, (Alcippe poioicephala) is also known as the Brown-cheeked Alcippe and was formerly referred to as the Quaker babbler.


It is a resident breeder in India, generally found in the undergrowth in moist forests and scrub jungle. It is a dull coloured bird characterised by brown above, a greyish cap, dark cheeks, a whitish throat and a short dark beak.


They generally feed on insects and nectar but here, they can be seen feeding on berries. Usually occur in groups of 6-10 birds. They are generally hard to sight due to their preference for the undergrowth but can be heard due to their characteristic song:


They breed in between Jan-June. Nests are placed in forks in branches and is cup shaped. Two or three eggs are laid.



Sighting Information:


.Agumbe, Karnataka


23rd June 2012


1:00 PM


Cloudy with interspersed rain

Other Details:

Several individuals seen together in a mixed foraging group along with White-bellied tree pies and Grey-headed bulbuls.


Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Grey-headed Bulbul


The Greyeaded bulbul (Pycnonotus priocephalus)  is an endemic species of bulbul found in the Western Ghats. It has an olive green colour with a grey head, crown and throat.
The forehead is also olive green and the flanks are dark grey. The undertail coverts are also grayish. The beak is greenish gray while the legs are pinkish. The iris of this bird is a distinct bluish white colour.
They are seen either singly or in groups or 4-8 individuals. It is patchily distributed and listed as “Near threatened” by IUCN due to steady forest clearance where it occurs.
During breeding season, it is restricted to the mid-elevation evergreen forests between 700-1400m elevation while inthe non-breeding season it is present in lower altitude moist deciduous and scrub forests. It feeds on berries and fruits.
The call is a sharp tweet with just a single syllable:

Nests are commonly built in reed bamboos and is a platform. Only a single or sometimes two eggs are laid. Both parents take part in incubation and feeding.
  Sighting Information:
Location: Agumbe Rainforest Research Station, Agumbe
Date: 23rd June 2012
Time: Afternoon; 1:10 PM
Weather: Raining
Other Details: A group of Grey headed bulbuls, seen with Brown-cheeked Fluvettas, Flowerpeckers, Sunbirds, White-bellied Tree-pies etc.