September 27, 2014

VARTHUR DIARIES: SEPT'14 - Part I

MEETING THE WEAVERS


It was a Sunday morning and I decided to go to the Varthur Lake for birding. The second largest lake in the city is hardly 4 km from our new house and I was expecting to spot several avians here. I was hopeful that like Agara, BTM and Lalbaugh, there would be a jogging track across the circumference of the lake from where I could capture some nice clicks. However, I was in for a shock. After getting down at the bus stand, I kept on walking on the road that goes from Whitefield towards the Varthur Police Station, looking for the entry gate. Though much of this side of the lake was covered with water hyacinth, there was still a lot of water. Sadly though, I could not see any birds. I walked for about 20 minutes with vehicles passing by at break neck speeds and was cursing myself for having come here; I turned back and started walking towards the bus stop.

Not the one to give up so easily, especially on birding trips, I decided to try the other route. After crossing a small temple, I came across several flower and vegetable gardens. Not so surprisingly, there were several birds here. Then came the big moment; I spotted this colony of about ten Baya Weaver nests hanging from some coconut trees along the edge of the lake. It was always my dream to click these amazing creatures against the backdrop of their unique nests. While they may be said to be 'common', finding them, especially in our cities can be very difficult. I had spotted one such colony in November last year on our trip to Hampi but could not spend anytime there since we were to board our bus back to Bangalore in a few hours. Meanwhile, most of the nests in the colony were complete; many of the birds were in fact giving some finishing touches to their marvelous creations. At regular intervals, the birds would go the lake, pick up some straws and then go about weaving their homes using their tiny beaks. I took my time clicking the pictures and admiring the birds. At a short distance, there was another colony of 15 nests. In fact, the location of the trees here was such that, I could get better pictures here.

Baya Weavers are passerine birds common in the Sub-continent and South-Eastern Asia. The females are very similar to House Sparrows and distinguishing the two can be difficult. However, breeding males have a distinct yellow crown that makes them easy to identify. It is the male of the species that takes the onus of building those beautiful nests. After the nest is in, what is referred to as 'helmet stage', the males start courting the ladies. Once a female is impressed, the pair will go on completing their 'home'.






For more posts in the series VARTHUR DIARIES: SEPT'14, click here (Link)