Friday, October 30, 2009

"Big pink ears" identified as the Caladium

I was very happy today to discover the name of yet another of our pink beauties - the caladium. If you have one, do let me know how you care for it - do you find it to grow best under the full rays of the sun or under moderate light? Ours haven't quite made up their minds it seems - some turn a beautiful pink and flourish under the sun, others don't seem to do so well.

Adyar poonga - the last leg of the walk

We were on our way out when someone noticed the painted grasshopper again, on its prefered host, the calotropis gigantea (milkweed) plant.

Preston pointed out a young one, that has a coloring different from that of the adult.

We also saw a mating pair

And a tawny coster caterpillar

The common emigrant butterflies flitted past as we walked out

and I took one last look at the pond, already looking forward to coming back to visit again!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Around the freshwater pond - Adyar poonga

Another dragonfly! Look at this beauty with its sky blue head and striped tail. T'was great having Preston Ahimaz around to tell us its name - the male ground skimmer

and the petite blue grass dartlet damselfly

the white clitoria ternetia / white butterfly pea

the ditch jewel dragonfly - look at its wings painted in red

aloe vera

another view

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Adyar Poonga - of birds n trees, weeds n deeds, dragons n damsels

From the north end of the park..

The funny looking sea grape (coccoloba uvifera)

Many many castor plants by the water's edge (yes, the one used to make castor oil).

More work in progress

Dragonflies! A beautiful scarlet ruddy marsh skimmer (male)

And another one (is this the same skimmer? or is it a female?)

More delights as we turned another corner and got on the west end

My most loved wildflower - coat buttons (tridax procumbens)

A pair of pond herons

A bunch of mystery cocoons

Sand binders - the beach morning glory/ railroad vine (ipomoea)

And we ambled on..

More from the Adyar Poonga- butterflies & berries

An elegant lotus in the waters..

A plain tiger along the way..

A plant covered with red berries..

Another glimse of the tawny coster..

I found myself imagining what it will be like when it is all ready.. Nov 10, 2010, i await the day!

No, the poonga stories aren't over.. more web log posts to come on the topic..

Monday, October 26, 2009

MNS nature walk - Adyar Poonga

Last saturday morning turned out to be a real treat for the nature enthusiast in me - the Madras Naturalists Society had organized a nature walk through Adyar Poonga - the 58 acre site along the Adyar estuary that, after years of pollution, garbage dumping and neglect, is being restored to a protected eco-park by the city authorities. Forest consultants from Pondicherry have been tasked with the job and from the looks of it, they are headed the right way. The park will be open to the public on Nov 10, 2010, but MNS was offered a sneak peek in the form of a nature walk led by naturalist Preston Ahimaz.

Much of the prosopis juliflora that had taken over the area and not allowed anything else to grow had been cleared. Only one or two huge clumps (also on the death row) remained. There were many birds, the cormorant included.
(click on the picture of the prosopis juliflora below and peer away at its top branches and see if you can spot the cormorant drying its wings!)

Other than the birds, we were rewarded with much biodiversity right there in the first leg of the walk. Butterflies, newly planted native saplings, wild flowers and painted grasshoppers delighted us with their colors and antics. 
There were many crimson rose butterflies flying around, and we were told that they make themselves inedible for the birds by feeding on the poisonous milkweed plants.

We saw a pair of jewel beetles mating on the candlebush.

A peacock pansy butterfly in the bushes, its marking looking like startled comic character eyes!

Go on, click on the picture and take a closer look.
There was also an exquisite blue pansy butterfly (of which i failed to get a picture) and many a tawny coster.

There was no dirth of flora - pretty passion flowers, bougainvillae and the deadly crown flowers. Here is a Passiflora foetida - commonly called the Love-in-a-mist / Stinking passionflower!! Funny set of names, huh?! :)

And just as i was picking up my pace to join the rest of the group, i noticed a painted grasshopper on a nearby leaf. I simply had to stop and take a picture.
More pictures and words in the days to come.... 

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Nizhal's 4th anniversary

From the yahoo groups:
About 60-75 people gathered this evening at 4.00 pm for the anniversary gettogether at the MAC spin foundation.
The function got off to a great start with visually challenged children from the St. Louis school and the children's group involved in the making of the audio cd singing two songs - Aalamaram and Ovvoru Siruvan soulfully.

This was followed by Shobha's presentation of annual report. Mr. Dattatri then briefly talked about the challenges ahead and and plans for future.

We then had sharing of experiences by various people associated with Nizhal or volunteering with Nizhal - Jithesh from Seimens,Uma from Bhoomi, Ambika - Nizhal volunteer on her school program experiences and Pandian on his passion for greening and tree protection.

The children - Aditya, Navya and Aparna then came forward to relieve the monotony of talks with a lively song - Poo venuma.

This was followed by further sharing by Mahalakshmi of Bala Vidya Mandir, Babu on the Puzhal project, Raghu and Kasi Sir on Anna nagar Nizhal projects.

It was wonderful to listen to the enthusiasm and commitment that all these people felt for the activities they were involved in.

Gayathree then briefly spoke about the making of the audio cd. The audio cd - Aalamarathin Nizhalile, with songs on trees and nature, was then released by Mr. Dattatri. The cd itself is in production and will be available for use in a couple of weeks' time.

The two youngsters Sai Krishna and Mihir then sang a song on Marutha naadu.
All the songs that were sung today were from the audio cd.

Thanks are due to Arati who did a wonderful job of being the cheerful Master of ceremonies in spite of the contradicting and often confusing instructions that were whispered to her by various people through out the program!

The function ended with coffee and snacks provided by Kamakshi aunty and Pattamal aunty - delicious samosas, vadais and Soan papdi.

One big Thank you to one and all who found the time to come this evening, share your thoughts and to the commitment to making this a greener and saner society.

(On behalf of Shobha)

Another bougainvillea color added ...

Today's color was taken at the adayar poonga.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Lemon pansy (junonia lemonias)

I was absolutely thrilled yesterday to get a picture of this beautiful lemon pansy sitting on one of my pots. I've been seeing it around, but never had a camera handy. Also sighted was a bright red crimson rose- so easily distinguishable from its mimic the female common mormon by the bright red colour of its body and the brighter markings on its wings. My day was done!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Friday flowers - Baby sun rose (aptenia cordifolia)

This succulent leaved beauty is the baby sun rose/ice plant - botanically called the aptenia cordifolia. It can be propogated by cuttings or seeds and needs a lot of sunlight.

Calathea ornata

I've always had a thing for pin strips - be it on pants or on leaves. And here is my most loved of them all - the south american calathea ornata.
The calathea ornata does not require too much sunlight, making it an ideal indoor plant.

A gift from my grandmother for my mother's garden.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Catharanthus roseus

is commonly called the periwinkle in India.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Ridge gourd

More gourds..

This one is the ridge gourd / luffa acutangula - peerkangai in tamil and turai in hindi. The next time you encounter one of these, you simply must tear off a little bit of the leaf and smell it. The characteristic ridge gourd smell will hit you. Ah, i love these! Don't play around too much with the leaves or vines though - you'll end up with itchy hands for the rest of the day.