Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The 200 year old Silk Cotton tree at Lalbagh

There are a few really impressive silk cotton trees at Lalbagh, but this must easily be the largest. No wonder, as it is the oldest, at about 200 years.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Hot, The Loud and The Proud

This was a gift to my grandmother.. and this month's entry to The Hot, The Loud and The Proud.


Apparently the eucalyptus was first introduced in India in the late 1700s by Tipu Sultan in Mysore. No wonder then that neighbouring Bangalore has such an inordinate number of eucalyptus trees and plantations. Here is a row of eucalyptus trees from around the Lalbagh Lake.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Spot billed pelican (grey pelican)

The pelicans are here! Several of them have been seen in various lakes across the city.. these are from Lalbagh, observed during the 2nd Sunday Bangalore Birders outing in November.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Not a great shot of the magnificent kite, but its the only one i have at the moment. Since the outing with the Bangalore Birding community I seem to be noticing an inordinate number of kites all over the city. They seem to be everywhere.. circling above parks, office buildings and homes. They are mostly all black kites, though every once in a while I do see the brahminy kite as well. Unlike the other common birds, they never seem to flutter their wings, but always have outstretched in the most strong and regal manner possible, gliding, circling, looking; thus living up to their classification as birds of prey.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


It probably is time I got myself a copy of the recently released Book on Grasses.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Pride of burma (amherstia nobilis)

The dried up new leaves seemed more dramatic than the chandelier like inflorescence of the flowers.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

October's 2nd Sunday Lalbagh outing with the Bangalore Birders

Many birds were seen .. the ubiquitous common and jungle crows and the mynas; the koel, pariah kite and the brahminy kite, the purple rumped sunbirds, drongos, parakeets and many more.

The water birds (migratory) were easier to photograph.. there were several pelicans, though at a distance

A grey heron in the pond

Notice the red moor hen in the middle of the picture below?

One of the pelicans swam a little closer

A darter that went in and out of the water

And the cormorants appeared to be drying themselves

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Elephant apple

The elephant apple tree at lalbagh is now green, unlike the last time when i saw it.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Bottle brush tree (callistemon viminalis) & the sunbird

The beautiful bottle brush tree (callistemon viminalis) was in full bloom in Lalbagh last month. And as a special treat we were lucky enough to see many little sunbirds (the purple rumped kind i was told, though all i saw was its yellow underside) flitting all around. Quite a sight!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Trees at Lalbagh - Gymnosperms

As i wandered through Lalbagh Gardens I found a stretch of trees that did not look like they were from these parts, or from this world at all. Standing amidst them, I felt like i was in hobbit-town.
What are these trees? i asked someone. "Gymnosperms".. "early trees" came the answer.
To those of you in North America, they may be a common enough site; but sitting here in the tropics, these trees seem right out of a magic book.

Here is what wiki has to say about them:

The gymnosperms are a group of seed-bearing plants that includes conifers, cycads, Ginkgo and Gnetales. The term "gymnosperm" comes from the Greek word gymnospermos, meaning "naked seeds", after the unenclosed condition of their seeds (called ovules in their unfertilized state). Their naked condition stands in contrast to the seeds or ovules of flowering plants (angiosperms) which are enclosed during pollination.
The gymnosperms and angiosperms together comprise the spermatophytes or seed plants. By far the largest group of living gymnosperms are the conifers (pines, cypresses, and relatives), followed by cycads, Gnetales (Gnetum, Ephedra and Welwitschia), and Ginkgo (a single living species).

The mystic Cupressus lusitanica/ Cupressus lindleyi klotzsch (mexican cypress/cedar of goa)

And others, equally enchanting...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Fire ants

The October bird watching outing at Lalbagh introduced me not just to many amazing birds but also to the diligent fire ants. There was a huge colony of ants at work over a trelis, binding the leaves together (did you know that many ants gather together at the ends of the leaf to make it bend backwards and then secure it to the other end using the sticky substance that they secrete), making nests and gathering food. I wondered where in that humungous maze of leaf-nests the queen ant rested, while the sterile workers (all female) went about their jobs. Worth many more hours of observation ...

Monday, November 1, 2010

Festival of the Trees: Edition 53

Saturday, 2nd of October, 2010
Hello and welcome to another tree-licious edition of the Festival of the Trees! I decided this month not to wait until the last few days, but start planning for the show right from day one! So here I am, it is the first saturday of the month and I'm wandering through the fanastic edition put together by John at Kind of Curious and hey, whats this -- our very first submission --  a lovely poem about the significance of an oak tree sent across by Jason.  Jason's site is about 'poetry, politics and jazz. But mostly poetry.' So head on over and enjoy his poems.

Saturday, 9th of October, 2010
The first week of the month has flown by, it is Saturday again and this time the arboreal treat is from Jasmine at Nature's Whispers. Those of us who have been following Jasmine's blog for a while know that she does some pretty amazing things with natural dyes and felt; this month Jasmine combines felt with something else -- a poem on trees. Hard to imagine? Go check it out at her blogpost, crown of autumn leaves. The week had its share of foliage for me to revel in as well, an offsite afrom work took me to the Golden Palms resort and spa about an hour from Bangalore; I was delighted with the tropical foliage they had around their grounds, though I did wonder how many of them were native to the area. The phytophactor calls them 'UBT' - Ubiquitous Tropical Flora - and indeed they are. Do you know their names? Do you know how they influence the local ecology? Do let us know via the comment box.

Picture courtesy Trees, Plants & more

Sunday, 10th of October, 2010
Sunday has brought in yet another oak. A video inspection of a young mexican oak tree a little over a year after it was planted, by arborist Gene Basler, at his Tree-Centered blog, where he discusses "preventive approaches to residential and commercial tree care". I loved the round-the-neighbourhood-in-15secs tour that Gene provided, showing the great big oaks, pecan and ashes around. Now, if only the plot owners had not ruined the ecology around by laying lawns and had let nature work her magic instead!

Sunday, 17th of October, 2010
Last Monday the daily newspaper that I read had a lovely article "Friend, philosopher and field guide" about how books on natural history can "bring the planet's wonders to your armchair". In particular I loved the quote by Henry David Thoreau that the author of this article had reproduced - "I should like to keep some book of natural history always by me as a sort of elixir, the reading of which would restore the tone of my system and secure me true and cheerful views of life". Nature bloggers, I believe, feel the same way about their blogs, other blogs on natural history and festivals such as these. Indeed, my natural reaction these days when feeling a bit blue is to look through my nature blog roll and lose myself in the many wonders that they reveal to me; I always emerge feeling cheerful and invigorated.

I must therefore thank Dave Bonta, for starting the Festival of The Trees.. much pleasure has it given all of us... and for so diligently forwarding all the submissions he received this last week. On Monday he sent across the link to a post at Botanizing about a forest fire. This was followed on Tuesday by a post sent by field wildlife biologists Ben and Carrie Tracks about the gigantic redwoods, that can be more than 300ft in height and 21ft in diameter!  Ben and Carrie are currently surveying the spectacular NW coast of oregon for spotted owls. Or wait a minute, are they on to something else already? There's only one way to find out -- head on over to their wonderful blog and explore the natural wonders of the United States with them. And if that doesn't fill your appetite for giant trees, then travel to the other side of the world and gaze at the stately serayas in Singapore.

Tuesday also saw a submission from Mike at 10,000 birds. If you've been around the nature blogging world for a while then you surely would have bumped into  Mike, Charlie and Corey's 10,000 birds at some point. This month Charlie had something to say about the trees as well.. in particular about the Horse Chestnut (Conker) tree.  While the other trees in the UK are only just getting ready for autumn, with their leaves turning yellow, the horse chestnut it seems, is well into the spirit of the season, with its copper leaves carpeting the ground beneath.

 Picture courtesy Charlie at 10000birds

On Thursday Dave directed me to a 'tree-ish' video poem, 'Until next time' by Nabila Jameel. And this morning I found yet another submission forwarded along by Dave - PraireWalker's view of the Altamont City Park in Illinois.

Sunday, 24th of October, 2010
Four creative entries this week ---
"Make Like a Tree" by The Storialist, a tree poem
In the spirit of the season, "Haunted tree" by Dave Bonta @ Via Negativa
"If trees, then olive trees", by Stella Pierides and
"Falling", a tree moment by Dorothee Lang; and some tree notes, also by Dorothee

Picture courtesy Dorothee at Virtual Notes

Saturday, 30th October, 2010
Nine tree enthusiasts sent in their entries this past week. Georgia at the local ecologist talks about NYU's green initiatives and Roberta at the Growing with Science blog writes about the Osage orange tree. Beth at Finding ground visits the California Redwoods and says "Its heaven all the way to heaven". What are your thoughts when you come across really tall or old trees?

Richard at Views of the Ock writes about his visit to Wytham woods, a mixed woodland to the west of Oxford consisting of beech, oak and non native trees. He also visits Harcourt Arboretum, part of the Oxford University's botanical gardens and says "Like Wytham Woods (also owned by Oxford University) it is predominately an area for study, with a collection of plants from around the world, including rhododendron and a pinetum of fir, pine and cedar trees as well as an area of restored woodland which has an impressive display of bluebells in spring"
Richard has some really tall trees to share, so do go take a look.

Laura shares some absolutely stunning fall colours at Shine the Divine. She writes
look out

look up
look in
write, share, tell your story with images, with words, infuse all you do with your inner light.
I am beauty
I am song
I am wind
I am light
I am a leaf
floating to earth

More poetry and pictures at Spirit Whispas, where Suzanne tells us the story of little acorns.

Rebecca at A Year with the Trees, blogs about a tree a day; and especially for this festival shares the red and yellow gold colours of fall in West Virginia. Travel to her part of the world and marvel at the Red Maple and Sassafras trees. And then fly over to the other side of the country, to beautiful Oregon, where Elizabeth photographs the deciduous trees that add touches of colour to the evergreen scenery.
  Picture courtesy Elizabeth at Yips and Howls
And finally, Patricia at Abyssal Plain wanders through the grounds of the house of a friend and shares pictures and thoughts about the magnificent trees they hold.

4th November, 2010
I hoped i would not miss anyone out, but it looks like i did. Rebecca's post about finding cypress trees where a book on natural history said there weren't any mature cypress trees, got lost in the email spam. Thank you Rebecca, for bringing this to my attention! The pictures certainly do give us the impression that this is a place where 'a fairytale can happen'. The perfect segue to our next festival!


The host for the next edition is Windywillow. The theme (optional) is 'The magic of faerie trees".  In Silvia's words-

"We are approaching the winter solstice during [December], which has a lot of magical and mystical connections. So I thought it would be fun to have the theme of Magical Faerie Trees.
Do you know of any trees that has a faerie residing in it?
Have you ever seen a tree or forest that is so beautiful, it almost seems unreal?
Are there trees you know that are shrouded in mystery?

Send your photos, artwork, stories, songs or videos about magical, whimsical or mysterious trees or forests. It can be from any time during the year."

Send in your submissions to silviasalix [at] yahoo.co.uk by Nov 27th.

I hope you enjoyed this edition of the Festival of Trees, replete with poetry, fall colours, thoughts and pictures of magnificent trees.

Happy tree gazing!