Baya Weavers

Baya Weavers are small birds of house sparrow size. The scientific name is Ploceus philippinus. What separates them from other birds is the beautiful nests they weave from the grass stalks, mud blobs.

The name weaver itself justifies the mastery is weaving very elaborate and elegant nests hanging from the branches of very high palm trees, thorny acacia trees. Usually these trees are near the water pools, scrub grasses where they are safe from predators.

It is male domain entirely to make the nest. When it is in the almost halfway stage, they invite the females by flapping their wings and if the female approves the nest, it means that she will reside with the particular male, mate and raise the new chicks. If she doesn’t approve, the structure will be abandoned and weaver will feel dejected and sometimes tore away the nest. It starts making newer one.

These birds come to our area in North India, at the peak of summers and by the onset of monsoon rains, have their nests completed. They visit the fields for foraging the seeds both raw and fallen after ripening.

After monsoons, and winter coming, they migrate to slightly warmer areas like western India where food is available and weather is not harsh.

The birds are gregarious and live in flocks. They can be located from the noises they make.

 

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Black Breasted Weaver

Weaver Birds visit our area when summers are at peak. They stay here, make beautiful nests using the grass stalks and mate and raise the chicks for new generation. Most common are Baya Weavers which make nests on the acacia, palm trees which are difficult for predators to approach.

Birds choose the places to nest in the area where food and water is available and safe from disturbances.

But there is another variety called Black Breasted Weaver. It is master strategist in the choice of the area fulfilling all three criteria. They make different kind of nests and use the long grasses to hang the nests. I accidentally discovered the nest while stopping on the scooter near a roundabout near Ghaggar river bridge in Panchkula Haryana of India.

On the side of road are trenches and crests and a water pool, I saw the nest last year. This year also I saw these nest almost in the same spot. Area is very difficult to approach. I somehow approached at not so favourable distant but still very far for better pictures of this small beautiful bird. It makes nest if the tall reed grass and so much camouflaged that you cannot see it clearly. Only once or twice it sat on the top of dry grass.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are living in the Meghalayan Age

Scientists have marked the time since the Earth began its life. They have divided it into different Epochs, Periods, Eras and Eons progressively in increasing time groups.

 

We are living in the following division of time.

Eon: Phanerozoic

Era: Cenozoic

Period: Quaternary

Epoch: Holocene

Holocene epoch began roughly 11700 years back and continues till present. United States Geological Survey (USGS) has divided this time into three ages namely

Greenlandian: 11700 to 8326 years ago

Northgrippian: 8326 to 4250 years ago

MEGHALAYAN: 4250 to present date

MEGHALAYAN age marks the time when a mega drought devastated civilizations across the world, including those in Egypt, Greece, Syria, Palestine, Mesopotamia, The indus Valley and the Yangtze valley. Drought lasted some 209 years and supposed to be prompted by shifts in ocean and atmospheric circulation.

Geologists chose the name “Meghalayan” as a nod to a rock sample they analyzed from Meghalaya, a northeastern state in India, whose name means “the abode of clouds” in Sanskrit. By analyzing a stalagmite growing on the ground of Mawmluh Cave, geologists found that each of the stalagmite layers had different levels of oxygen isotopes, or versions of oxygen with different numbers of neutrons. This change marked the weakening of monsoon conditions from that time.

Little or Small Pratincoles: Beauty in small packets 

There is a river near Panchkula city of Haryana. It is called Ghaggar. Once a mighty river, now it has become a mere shadow of its past. A thin stream of water flows through the large bed made of sand, pebbles and small amounts of clay. Bushes and different grasses like bulrushes grow in its bed.

Here in the beds near running water one can spot these little cute birds only if you look very carefully on the ground because there colour camouflage them in the sand. They keep standing at a given spot for long time. They become quite fearless and allow you to approach quite nearer.

It is called Small pratincole, little pratincole, or small Indian pratincole (Glareola lactea), is a small wader in the pratincole family, Glareolidae. The birds arrived here about three months ago. They have laid the eggs and raised the new generation They lay eggs in the gravel and sand.

Here are some pictures I have taken

Standing still
Chick with mom
Feeding

Squatting

Why Gold has the colour it has??

Gold as everyone knows is a noble metal sought after by everyone. By being noble means it is resistant to chemical reactions like corrosion by air and water combination.

The answer tothe question why it has the colour it has lies in electronic configuration of gold atoms.  Its electronic configuration is [Xe] 4f14 5d10 6s1 where Xe stands for Xenon. The outermost orbitals are 5d and 6s.  There is one electron in the outermost shell. In the geometric structure, atoms are arranged in a particular config And the lone electrons present the 6s orbitals are diffused in the lattice which means that individual electron in a atom has lost the address of parent atom and now belong to the community of gold atoms.

How do the objects we see have different colours? Colours are hidden in white light emanating from the sun. The visible spectrum of light components is composite of 7 colours remembered using “VIBGYOR” where V is for violet and has the maximum energy in the visible spectrum and R is for red with lowest energy.

When it falls on an object, the object absorbs some fraction of the light and reflects the rest of it. Which color or colors wavelengths it will absorb depends upon the unique structure of the object molecules. We see the resultant of colours which are reflected.

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In case of gold, the energy difference between the 5d and 6s levels is 2.7 electron volts. The blue light has exactly this energy in its photon packets. So when light falls on it, it completely absorbs the blue fraction of the light. The remains reflected resultant light is exactly the colour which is that of gold.

Revival of Govardhan Parvat: The Mountain Moved by Krishna

In our country where mythology plays a big role in the lives of its inhabitants, many sites like hills, rivers, and caves have their associations with the mythology. One such concerns the Lord Krishna and is called Govardhan Parvat (mountain).

The legend is that when the uninterrupted deluge threatened to innundate Mathura, Krishna lifted the entire mountain on his little finger to make an umbrella to protect the Mathura.

UP government has planned to revive the almost barren Govardhan parvat situated about 23 kilometres from Mathura. Government plans to plant the herbal plants on the mountain. These are:

Kadamba: It is a tropical tree. Krishna and Radha are said to have conducted their love play under the cool shade of the tree. It is used as one of the raw materials in the preparation of “itars”.

Tamala or Indian bayleaf or tezpatta: It is commonly used in Indian culinary as well as medicines particularly for alleviation of diabetes due to the presence of highly antioxidant enzymes.

Karira: Scientific name is Capparis decidua. It’s spicy fruits are used for culinary purposes like vegetable, curries, and pickles. It is also used in medicine.

Pakar : It belongs to mulberry family. Leaves have sour taste.

Pilkhan: Scientific name Ficus virens. It grows to heights of about 100 feet. It is Avenue tree. It bears “strangler figs” because they can germinate on other trees and strangle them. It is used in Thai cuisine.

Steppe Eagle: Endangered Bird

Steppe Eagle is also known as Aquila nipalensis in the scientific language is a scavenger. This species breeds east in European Russia from across Kazakhstan into Kyrgyzstan, China and Mongolia. Birds winter mainly in south and south-east Asia.

The bird is placed in the Red List by IUCN in the endangered category. There are many reasons attributed to the decline in population to such an extent. Some are like loss of habitat and exposure to radioactive radiations in its basic habitat.

Bird winters in South and South East Asia. It has suffered in Pakistan and India due to the presence of a drug Declofenac in the carrion of the dead animals which these birds feed on. This drug is used extensively in the treatment of cattle in these countries.

Thus these birds suffer both at the original residence as well as their temporary stay in Asia.

I chanced upon a ditch amidst the bushes where the carrion are being dumped. One can observe the eagles flying over the area. Earlier there were mostly Egyptian Vultures but now a group of these Steppe Eagles have landed here.