Thursday, November 28, 2019

Nature walk @ Pride Vatika

My friend Geetanjali who runs IT nature trust invited me for a nature walk at their layout. I did one walk in October with an enthusiastic crowd. So I was looking forward to this second round of walk with the children. Turns out, the same day the layout has some sports activity, so Geetanjali and I were skeptical on how many will turn up. Besides, this was the first time we are experimenting an afternoon/evening walk.

The delay in getting cab made me reach the place late and by that time, I was relieved to see a decent turnout of kids and adults. With no delay and after a brief introduction from Geetanjali we started the walk with a bird fun/fiction game that early bird designed. The adults seems to be enjoying it while the younger kids seems to be slightly bored. It's fun way to introduce them to the birds world.

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All photos from Geetanjali Dhar

More people joined by the time we finished the game and started the nature walk. We started off watching two Red-vented bulbuls, followed later by a group of Scaly-breasted munias on the wire. Apparently they are nest on one of the exotic non-native palms planted in the layout.

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We waked past them to the pond in the layout that had abundant water. Like last time, the Common Blue Kingfisher turned up and put a good show. All the adults and kids could watch the kingfisher and it's bright blue back and orange front. We joked about the two colored shirt it's wearing.

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Meanwhile, Geetanjali spotted a butterfly mud puddling and the kids curiously gathered around it trying to spot it.

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Walking further up we saw the other bulbul, the Red-whiskered bulbul and we discussed about the hair-do and the jocus scientific name of this guy. Right before we moved, an Ashy prinia promptly landed with a caterpillar. Though the kids could not get more details, the adults and kids could connect what we discussed earlier that if the bird is carrying food, it's likely that it has a nest with fledglings.

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Post this, the path ahead has a nice Teak plantation patch but with no bird activity, however the smaller shrubs hosted some interesting insect life. We spotted lace wing eggs and a spider hiding nicely inside the leaves of a bush.

One kids got too close to it and spooked the spider out. I used it as an opportunity to explain them the importance of keeping the insect comfortable when watching it. I hope they understood it. Since bird activity was less around the place, we went around watching insects on barks, on road and the walk added another dimension. We saw a spider-lilly plant and came up with creative names for it that include jelly-lilly, octopus-lilly etc.

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We spotted a dead dragonfly in a spider web, close to ground, we the nature detectives could actually trace it all the way to spot the owner or the murderer as we joked of it sitting 7-8 feet above it. We also spotted the camouflaged Two-tailed spider on the tree bark and we discussed how it's colors are matching the bark and we speculated on why it does that. We spotted some caterpillars on the wall besides some evening brown butterflies. A bark mantis too was spotted but evaded the kids as it moved away. The bark hunting for spiders was fun (atleast to me). I hope the kids too enjoyed it.

By then it's 5:00 PM and we headed back. On the way back, we saw a dung beetle and discussed about it. I asked kids to find out what the dung beetle does with the dung without eating it (their guess).
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We also spotted a white-browed wagtail and once we discussed its colors and features, we all guessed it's name as different names popped up - tail-wagger, wag-tailer etc and finally we all understood why its called White-browed wagtail.

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A baronet butterfly and a katydid wrapped up the walk. The kids have been very patient and some of them carried the energy through out the walk while other had to head out little early. Thanks to Geetanjali for the opportunity, we had a productive spotting time and I look forward to the next walk

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