Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Nature trails around Bengaluru - Gulakamale lake

ORANGE was the flavor of the day and all of us were orange happy and so were the birds who flocked the orange tree that made it a orange spot for people like us. Nature is so colorful and so is Butea Monosperma with its bright orange flowers attracting hordes of birds and butterflies to offer its nectar, yes here I'm referring to the 'Flame of the Forest' tree also known as the 'Palash tree' ('Muttuga' or 'Muttulu' in Kannada).
As we took a detour to Gulakamale via Bannerghatta road avoiding the NICE road due to the traffic pile up, this tree shining orange with the rays of the rising sun falling on it caught our attention a long distance away and we just could not get away from the hot spot and all the activity happening there.
A brief description of the tree as cited by our Guru-G 'Karthikeyan Srinivasan' on his blog:
"This tree when in bloom is indeed a sight to behold, particularly so when the forest around it is dry and most trees bereft of leaves. The Flame of the Forest too, like many other trees that share the habitat sheds most of its leaves before putting forth the bright, yet pleasing, orange flowers arranged that are placed in clusters on its branches. The flowers are visited by a host of organisms – birds and butterflies. An early morning birding session in the vicinity of this tree during its flowering season is rarely disappointing. It can be propagated from seeds."
Karthik's blog here - http://www.wildwanderer.com/journal/ Do visit and you will definitely thank me for it :)
Common Myna, Jungle Myna, Rosy Starling, Chestnut tailed Starling, Tailor bird, Tawny Bellied Babbler, Rose ringed Parakeet, Loten's Sunbird, Purple Sunbird in hordes kept visiting and flying out of the tree in groups and batches. The commotion of birds was so audible that all our ooh's and aah's could not be heard at all.
When the tree is in full bloom, you don't get to see any leaves (very few left) and it's a rush of orange everywhere as you admire it's beauty and appearance. Once the flowers fall off, the barren branches become more visible till the greens start appearing again. Till the flowering season, the tree is full of dark green leaves and the cycle continues into the next season.
As per Wikipedia, this plant kills mosquitoes - "The Mosquitoes are attracted by the smell and color of the flower. They lay eggs in the liquid within the flower but that eggs will never hatch. The Mosquitoes that touches the fluid can never escape from it".
After an extended stopover at the tree, we moved reluctantly ahead to the Gulakamale lake as the morning sun was still in his elements glowing everything that came in his contact. Here again the sun's rays bore a wonderful reflection on the waters and that
presented a lovely sight to us.

We were a pretty big group this time around and all of us were interested in something or the other either be an insect, larvae, butterfly, twig, tree, bird, bee or an silhouette, everyone including the kids were busy either observing or photographing it.
As the others moved ahead, a decent sized bird caught my attention on a tree nearby and on further slithering investigation revealed it to be the Common Hawk Cuckoo sitting high in the canopy and calling out meticulously.
As we went around the lake, up into the rocks and down by the bushes and near to the water yet far away on the road, the sightings increased by the minute and there were quite a few 'good catches' for the day.
(picture courtesy: Deepa Mohan)
After all the savoring our minds and hearts had done, the stomachs were banging and howling for some attention and they were pleased when presented with an assortment of multi cuisine 'brefus' (yes, breakfast as DM calls it) containing Idli's, sandwiches, bread-butter, cakes and biscuits.
Yellow browed Bulbul, Blue faced Malkoha, River Tern, Oriental Honey buzzards were found around the lake area in multiples. From the lake after the osum brefus, we visited a small stream close by that has a temple too called the Gulakamale falls but no such falls existed there.
The place was serene, somewhere deep in a remote location but unclean and a mess with bottles and plastics around, sad state of affairs as with the other spots near Bangalore. Still birdlife was quite good in the area with sightings of the Flameback woodpecker, Babblers, Blue bearded bee eaters, Black shouldered Kite, Kestrel and host of other birds all around us.
On our way back after the mind boggling sessions and still orangish in our minds, we took the same route back and stopped near the orange tree to get more feel of the orange tree. Even as now the sun was almost on our heads, the activity though waned down was still on and it seemed though it would continue to be till dusk or till all the flowers withered away.


An osum Orange day with an osum gang being osum company :)
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