Saturday, April 19, 2014

Bamboo Rustles Butterflies

Large Salmon arab
A mailer on the “bng Birds” group, prompted us to register for the Bamboo rustles camp on Butterflies. I have never experienced camping before and Al was all too excited to get out of the house again. J

Butterflies! Butterflies might be considered normal for many but for someone who is known for panicking & rushing out (with blood chilling screams.. you should check with my brother for this), this is an “experience”. When I first told my parents that I am going to learn about butterflies, their immediate response was “Why don’t you attend a workshop on Cockroaches also, to get used to them”? Sigh.. If only I was that brave. But knowing more about butterflies has definitely helped get over the fear of their presence.
Bamboo rustles is located at Veppanampally in Krishnagiri district, Tamilnadu. There were 2 route options available – we chose to take the one through Bagalur. We started at 10 am taking with us another interested participant on the journey - Feroz.

I was thinking we had over-packed with respect to a one night stay - 2 backpacks, one small suitcase and multiple plastic covers were dumped in the trunk.  One thing which we do while on such drives is to ensure that we don’t buy chips and biscuits on the way.

What happens to these plastic packets after you are done with the content?

Specifically, packets that have been made with forged metal and plastic are difficult to recycle and are far away from degradation. So Lays, Kurkure, Jim-jams are a No-No. So, that added another bag of home-made goodies & fruits in metal and plastic containers, and four water bottles to last the journey.

The day was sunny and bright and probably, not the perfect time to watch birds. But to our delight, we spotted a number of them and kept stopping to take snaps. Much to our relief, Feroz too, was an enthusiastic bird watcher. Otherwise, a co-passenger can pretty much get frustrated with us when we drive the car like a bullock cart – starting, slowing, resting, enjoying trees and shade rather than reaching our destination.

We have seen only ONE Indian roller till date – that too in Goa, Raia wetlands. But here I was telling Al - look to the right, look there perched on that tree, on that electric line, on top of the stick in the field – everywhere we found Rollers, beautifully perched and basking in the sun.

We reached the camp at 1 pm. In the last stretch of the journey, the roads had been narrow and we had taken about 3 hours to reach the campus. As we entered, we noticed a huge farm-type land with some cottages and tents, neatly arranged in one corner. Structures that drew immediate attention were the tree house and the rope bridge. Few vehicles were parked and some kids were enjoying a dip in the pool. We parked the car and got down to get a clear view of the place – we were in a valley surrounded by hillocks all around.  Lunch arrangements were happening below the tree house. But before we could taste the food, rain clouds gathered around to beat the heat. We shifted to one of the cottages and finished our lunch. Simple south Indian meals were served hot while we observed the rain cooling the farm.

The workshop started with an interaction on Butterflies with Mr. Ashok Sengupta, a well-known butterfly lover. Various types of butterflies, difference between moths & butterflies, between cocoons and chrysalis were some of the questions addressed. Ashok’s way of presentation evoked interest in children and his passion for protecting these ‘flying jewels’ was seen all through his speech. After this we went on a trek on one of the nearby hillocks to spot these jewels.

Soon we wound up for the day and the night sky took over from the dawn with much exuberance – an almost full moon lit up the farm with its bright white hue.  Silence was overthrown by the sounds of the forest – crickets, frogs, nightjars and owls. We have been waiting to spot a nightjar and we proceeded to do this before dinner. We found another three individuals interested in accompanying us – Srinath, his son Anurag and Ratnesh. This was a story of its own with around 3 walking trips into the night jungle on our own– but in summary we managed to see and hear about four of them – and both Jerdons and the Indian Nightjars. Boy.. we were pretty happy. We also got a night ride on the jeep into the deep jungle which we thoroughly enjoyed.

Sleeping in the tent was quite normal (maybe compared to what I had imagined). We were quite tired and as soon as we hit the bed we were into deep sleep.

The next day Al woke me up a little early so that we could go sight some birds. Again our small group embarked on foot to one of the hillocks. We managed to see some parakeets, bulbuls and doves. We had breakfast and proceeded for the butterfly watching session – almost a 2 ½ hour trek.
We spotted this fellow who was just out of his pupa and waiting for his wings to strengthen before taking off. 

Currently, there is a migration of Blue Tigers from Western Ghats to Eastern Ghats and we could spot swarms flying here and there. You can spot them in Bangalore too. Each generation flies from one ghat to another, lay eggs and dies. The next generation flies to the other ghat, lays eggs and dies. Thus continues a legacy which man does not understand much.

Bright babool blue

Red pierrot


Tailless line Blue

Best part of the camp was it was structured in a light manner. As a group, we had time to mingle with each other, stop to look at the night sky for a really long time, explore the area on our own and not follow rigid rulesJ.  The organizing team at Bamboo Rustles was knowledgeable about butterflies and also about nature. In the cottages, photos taken by Rohit were displayed. Ashish was a keen bird watcher and guided us during our night exploration of the Nighjars.  There was excellent hospitality organized by Dennis and team.  There was also, Coco and Chicko, two wonderful dogs that were trotting with us on the treks. We thoroughly enjoyed the camp and came back knowing more about butterflies and birds.

List of butterflies seen:
1. Small salmon Arab
2. Lemon Pancy
3. Red pierrot
4. Tail-less Line Blue
5. Plain tiger
6. Tawny Coaster
7. Blue tiger
8. Dark blue Tiger
9. Large Salmon arab
10. Pioneer
11. White Orange Tip
12. Common Rose
13. Lemon Emmigrant
14. Crimson Tip
15. Yellow orange tip
16. Bright babool Blue
17. Common crow
18. Double banded Crow

List of birds seen (camp and enroute): 
1. Black shouldered kite
2. White chested Kingfisher
3. Indian Roller
4. Black Drongo
5. White browed wagtail
6. Red vented Bulbul
7. Pied Buschat
8. Green Bee Eater
9. Babbler
10. White-bellied Drongo
11. Indian Robin
12. Paradise fly catcher
13. Jerdons nightjar
14. Indian nightjar
15. Peacock (heard)
16. Spotted Owlet (heard)
17. Jungle fowl (heard)
18. Rose-ringed parakeets
19. Brahminy Mynah
20. Purple rumped Sun bird
21. Southern Coucal
22. Ringed Dove
23. Turtle Dove
24. Iora (heard)
25. Hoopoe (seen by others)
26. Swallows