Scaly Breasted Munia

There are grown up Ficus Shrubs with thick canopy of branches and leaves at the top in the small park outside our house. In the morning usually I sit up in the balcony and watch birds and green fields away.

There are common birds to be seen dominated by the rock pigeons which are multiplying here at an abnormal speed and breeding in the niches of buildings.  Residents scatter seeds for them so that there is no scarcity of the food to them. Then there are mynas which have arrived here after the end of winter season. Similarly there are a few crows and nightingales. A falcon also is to be seen sometimes.

But some days back in the early morning noticed the small beautiful pair of birds. They were sitting on the metallic net wires near the ficus shrub. Then they inspected all the ficus trees. Since these trees have thick foliage bigger predator birds cannot enter inside.

Then everyday they were darting into fields near by and bringing the straws to make nest inside the shrub. Usually they were seen in the morning. During this activity they take turns to bring the material for construction of the nest. The other of the pair will sit on the fence near the ficus. I peered into the foliage and found a nest which was surprising given the small size of the bird.

image

Then I photographed them and searched the internet for indetifying the birds. It turned out that these are the birds called “Scaly Breasted Munia”. Their scientific name is Lonchura punctulata. these are also known as nutmeg mannikin or spice finch.

it is a small bird with a very distinctive appearance. It has a bright cinnamon head and neck, with duller brown plumage on the back and wings. The underside of the scaly-breasted munia is mainly white, although each feather on the breast. it is merely 11 to 12 centimeters long.

They are described as social animals which means they live in small groups but here i found only two pairs. The diet of the scaly-breasted munia comprises mainly seeds, and this species spends much of its time foraging off the ground. It also takes seeds directly from plants such as rice during the harvest season, when the kernels are maturing.

The birds are native to south asia ranging from Indonesia in the east to Afghanistan in the west. These birds are also found as far north as Nepal.

image

image

Advertisements

Soirée of birds

It finally seems that winter is over. The days have become longer and time seems to be lingering. The light seems to be blinding the eyes. Poplars which were bald during the winter have acquired the sparkling green leaves hiding their skeletons. Every other plant and tree has stirred to life.

There is a large increase in the numbers of birds like pigeons, parrots, mynas and others whose names are not known. This is due to the maturing of wheat crops. Many birds can be seen making nests frantically to lay eggs and continue their future generations to gain immortality of their genes by passing them on to coming generations.

In front of our home, there are meadows and water bodies around which the tall grasses and other bushes and vegetation abounds. Ducks and bittern can be seen in these waters. The tall bushes and grasses also provide the roosting place to many kinds of birds except pigeons which have colonised the buildings along with human beings.

Everyday when evening approaches, I sit in the balcony to watch the sky in the west getting coppery red with the sun going down until it dips behind the buildings in the west. Eagles roam the sky. Once in a while a hawk can be seen hovering steadily in a point in the sky pinpointing its prey on the land and descending with blinding fury.

But most beautiful scene is when small groups of birds fly in patterns sometimes going up, then down, left and right. Another group starts from another location and after graceful flight in the sky separate gtoups coalesce and become a single group. Then another and another groups come and join them. 

Why they do it every evening? Is it a sort of get together and show to bonding? Must be they share their experiences during the day and take stock of their flock. After meeting again they get separated to find their roosting places for the night. God only knows. 

This goes on and as it becomes more and more dark, these groups break and settle in the bushes around the water bodies, trees in the fields. Although it is very difficult to photograph them because of their sheer mobility and unpredictable changes in the direction still some photographs I have taken and shown below.





Resolution is not to the point but still the observation is proved.

Our colony

When in the year 1991, I got transferred to Mumbai from Silchar, the ONGC colony at Panvel was brimming with occupants so much so that I was allotted a B-type house that had been used as the storage for cement and other building material when construction was going on. After 6 months I got C-type accommodation but not before a flood entered our home. What logically everyone expects to happen in Assam happened with us here in Panvel. That was in 1991.

I got transferred to Assam second time in 2005. I was on leave in July when the flood attacked the colony and ravaged it. We are in the first floor and within minutes the water completely submerged the ground floor. A river was flowing outside in the street.

The flood of 2005 marked a watershed year in the history of the colony. People suffered big losses both emotional as well as economical. A fear psychosis developed in the minds of occupants and an exodus of residents began.

After this incidence, about 1/3rd of the flats in the ground floor are lying vacant. These flats were not even once thoroughly cleaned, disinfected after that. Slowly, the locks began to be broken. It seems that stray dogs-the whole battalions of which roam the colony, pigeons and mosquitoes have been given allotment in these flats. Mosquitoes are breeding and by the evening are on the rampage making every weapon like mosquito coils, good knights and sprays completely ineffective.

Everywhere on the roads, broken building materials are lying. Choice of trees which have been planted is very poor. On many lanes, the trees which are used for fuel wood have been planted. Then there are trees which when flower have so strong a scent that one can choke at night and many children suffer allergies at the flowering time.  Other trees exude a certain gummy substance which ruins the paint of the cars standing below them.

Many of the trees are under the vicious attack of termite. There are dead trees standing in the lanes giving apocalyptic warning about the colony becoming a ruin. It certainly looks like a ruin. It is certain that hardly any officer connected with maintenance ever visits the interior of colony.