RV Matters - 7 Oct 2018

“Did you sit and paint this cockroach?” asked my cousin who saw this photograph. It took a while to explain to him that this was not a cockroach and certainly I did not paint it!

We have had some sightings of this exotic-looking creature in Rishi Valley last month and this photograph was taken near the Senior School, last week.

A member of the Buprestidae family, they are known as jewel beetles or metallic wood-boring beetles – Sternocera sp. This nearly 2-3 inch long insect, is one of the 15,500 species belonging to this family, one of the largest beetle families! The elytra (wing cases) of these creatures were traditionally used to make beetlewing jewellery in parts of South and South-east Asia.

Photo: V Santharam

This morning’s birdwatching yielded three more migrants – the Ashy Drongo, Barn Swallow and the Forest Wagtail. The last-named is a very uncommon bird of passage in Rishi Valley, encountered during the autumnal passage in September-October and again in March-April. The Blue-tailed Bee-eaters, a local migrant, has been seen over the last week in overhead flight over the campus as they fly southward, through the day.

The tall and stately Millingtonia or the Indian Cork trees have started flowering indicating the term is coming to an end and winter is not far away. Each year these trees bloom in profusion towards October-November, filling the air with a sweet but heady scent and the ground below them, a carpet of white flowers. For those with a keen olfactory sense, the valley offers a variety of scents through the year. I wonder how many of us stop and inhale the fresh, scented air?

Dr Santharam