RV Matters - 22 July 2018

A week of dry weather has gone by. There are clouds racing overhead but we have not had any rains. In fact, it was quite hot in the daytime.

The Koel is still singing in the valley. The Brainfever bird has quitened down. There are no signs of the Cuckoo-shrikes, which feed regularly on caterpillars. Maybe we haven’t had enough rains yet this season and so there are no caterpillars and those that feed on them. The percolation tank, which had substantial water last month is now a puddle.

Yet, last Sunday we found six Dabchicks in the waterbody. Half-a-dozen Pond Herons stalked along the margins of the tank and a pair of White-breasted Waterhen were seen along the waterside. Nearly two dozen Baya Weaverbirds had built their nests on the Acacia trees on the tank bund but their activity level was low, again owing to the dry weather conditions.

Several birds of prey or raptorial birds are now seen in the valley, often in overhead flight. It is a marvellous sight to spot the Short-toed Snake Eagle standing still against the strong current of winds, scanning the ground for their slithering prey. Tawny eagles, Crested Honey Buzzards
(often calling their single-noted calls as they fly about), Shikras and the rarely seen Black Kite have been some of the raptors spotted this week. This morning we had a good view of a Peregrine Falcon (most likely the resident subspecies – also known as the Shaheen) as it flew overhead for a good three minutes. We were hoping to see the bird dive down at its prey but just as we watched it, the bird disappeared behind the hillside.

A pair of Scaly-breasted Munias is bringing in dry grass to refurbish their old nest of last year placed under the tiled roof on the wooden rafters of my residence. They are quite bold and can be seen very close (within a couple of metres) provided you don’t take them by surprise.

Dr Santharam