Blue Bearded Bee Eaters

I am going to narrate an incident. I am in search of spotting the birds. The day is foggy and very cold breeze is blowing: not favourable conditions for Photography. There is a square of bushes with two three acacia trees in between.

Suddenly, I spotted this bird sitting on an electric wire overhead. I was surprised to find it there. I try to click a picture but it is very shy and flies to a tree. I try to invade through bushes to reach near it but couldn’t locate it. But while coming out of the bushes, I just stumbled upon a beehive on an acacia tree whose branches have been chopped off by some villager. It was just on the tree trunk abutting the bushes from almost all sides.

But I could hear the sounds being made by not one but three birds in the bush adjacent to the beehive.

I tried to position myself behind a bush and waited. Lo and behold, two of them slowly sneaked near the beehive and began plucking the bees for eating.

Palash Flowers: The Fire of Jungle

Near Panchkula which is our native place are Shivalik hills. One of places in these hills is called Morni. The entire route is through hills and zigzag. There are streams passing through under the bridges. A number of wild trees and plants grow. It is a very picturesque site.

We go on to that route many times just for drive. There are hordes of monkeys and langoors. This time we went yesterday. There is a part of jungle adjoining a stream and lots of trees which is marked as bird habitat.

From the beginning of the hilly road, there were beautiful blossoms of trees called Palash. There season has just begun. At many places there are clumps of many of these trees. The intense light red colored flower bunches look as if jungle is on fire. There are very few leaves on these trees when they bloom. For more information on this flower. see my another blog post “Flame of Forest

A lots of insects and bees converge on these trees for nectar. Similarly many birds can be seen visiting these trees.

We took some shots…

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Animals take drugs when in grief

Man’s penchant for getting drunk is much older than keeping himself clean. I mean the use of alcohol and other substances obtained from plants which give high is much older than the invention of soap for cleaning the body. But it is not only the humans who feel the need to get a high but many animals also are similar. Johann Hari, who is the author of book “Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs” has spent 25 years observing the behaviour of animals when in they are alarmed or in grief. He began his research after going through the findings on this subject from Ronald Siegel. For example, Siegel had planted “Silver Morning Glory” a plant containing powerful hallucinating chemicals in the pen of Hawaiian mongoose. The animals tasted it leaves felt disoriented and avoided the plant altogether. But there happened a tropical storm which destroyed the den, filled it with mud and female dead. The male returned to the plant and ate its leaves to get blasted out of mind. After that Hari began his research and found more evidence. For example, in Vietnam, he found that prior to bombings in the Vietnam war with America, the buffaloes never chewed on opium plants. But when the bombings began, the water buffaloes ate the opium plants. They became dull and dizzy to escape their thoughts like mongoose. Similarly, bees bees fell to ground in a temporary stupor after sampling the numbing nectar of certain orchids. Birds gorge themselves on inebriating berries, then fly with reckless abandon. His more observations are given below : “Cats eagerly sniff aromatic “pleasure” plants, then play with imaginary objects. Cows that browse special range weeds will twitch, shake, and stumble back to the plants for more. Elephants purposely get drunk off fermented fruits. Snacks of “magic mushrooms” cause monkeys to sit with their heads in their hands in a posture reminiscent of Rodin’s Thinker. The pursuit of intoxication by animals seems as purposeless as it is passionate”

Golden Flowers: Amaltas

Plants did not have the flowers in the beginning. But there were massive herbivorous dinosaurs which guzzled mountains of plants in a day. Since the plants have not evolved flowers and hence seeds for propagation, they felt threatened with extinction. So they evolved flowers and instruments of sexual reproduction were established. Still there was problem for cross pollination. Plants came out with another strategy for transporting the pollen from one flower to another. They used insects like bees and flies as the vehicles for carrying the pollen. But why shall the insects do such chores for free. To award them the plants laced the flowers with sweet nectar and brilliant colors of petals to lure the insects. Bees in fact have acute visual power than humans. They can see in the ultraviolet range of the light spectrum which our eyes cannot. Whether color or not, there are cues or guiding arrows which plants have developed inside the flowers near the pollen.

Flower have great power over the human minds. Due to this they are used on all occasions from happiness to grief. In the marriages and on the dead bodies. They are offered in the worshiping places. All countries have one national flower. Flowers are the means for reproduction which is considered as the most pious activity. Flowers blossom in different seasons.

Normally maximum flowers are seen in the spring season when the winter is slowly receding giving way to the most pleasant season of spring which transits to the hot weather. In fact with each passing day, the heat is building up and vegetation begins to crumble. Flowers begin to wither because they are very delicate. But still there are certain trees which bloom in the heat. They seem to enjoy the heat and bear devil may care attitude to the Sun. In this process, they give us the moments to enjoy the nature’s glory.

Amaltas is one such tree which blooms during the onset of summer. It is called Cassia Fistula in the botanical language. The trees hardly bear any flowers. From the skeletons of the branches hang the beautiful bunches of golden colored flowers. Before becoming the full fledged flowers, the buds are like “Ghungroos” of gold.

The tree is the national flower of Thailand;  its yellow flowers symbolize Thai Royality. The golden shower tree is the state flower of Kerala state in India where the flowers are of ritual importance in the Vishu festival. The tree was made it to the 20 rupees stamp. It is also used in medicine.

There are eight to ten trees in our location and they are in full bloom as you can see them bursting forth with full glory.