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Guest post by Ashish Mantri

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Visiting Powai lake front from IIT is always an experience that varies with the season.  During my last trip to IIT in May end, the water at the shore had all but disappeared and we could walk on the hardened surface. Bushes & trees at the shore were also bereft of any bird activity. The number of birds seen were very little while we spent more energy on a hot & humid morning that day.

The May trip was weighing on my mind as the contingent of bird-walkers was gathering at IIT gate this sunday morning on 17th August, The heavily overcast sky threatening to rain anytime was making me wonder if we would be able to really appreciate the effect that rains would have made to IIT’ campus.

Initially, it seemed that my fears were right when immediately after eaching the lake front it started raining. Thankfully, it was a brief shower and did not hamper the activity. However, it did result in everyone getting wet, including the birds, and one could see most of them trying to preene themselves.

The change that monsoon has brought in at the lake was absolutely apparent and pleasing to the eyes. Not only the lake was full, it was surrounded by absolutely green bushes and reeds. It seemed as if a green carpet had been laid all around the lake. Balsam bushes, in their full bloom, were adding a dash of pink-purple to the carpet.

Early morning was devoid of any human or traffic noise, However, Ashy prinias’s continuous chattering, along with throaty rumbles of a coucal made up for this. 

As we stood watching the other usual suspects one finds at IIT, the cormorants, a white breasted kingfisher, a spot-billed duck, a spotted dove, a few purple moorhens, purple rumped sunbirds, phaesant tailed jacanas and ashy prinias, a solitary brahmany kite soared over our heads and went away without giving me enough time to click a good picture. Though I had seen a pair of Brahmany kites near Mysore and also at Nal sarovar earlier, but had failed to click a good picture. This was the first time I was seeing it in Mumbai and rued the missed chance of capturing a good shot of this beautiful raptor.

However, at IIT, nature never gives you too much time to regret. Immediately we sighted a common iora which after flitting among the branches of a rain tree, it decided to allow the entire group to have a proper view. The same tree also was hosting Red vented, red whiskered & white browed bulbuls. Also in the vicinity were a few Magpie Robins, a koel, a pair of tawny bellied babblers and a tailorbird. Also, could hear a coppersmith barbet somewhere in distance.

As we moved further towards the boat house, some of the bushes were full of butterflies, honey bees, bumble bees & beetles.  Naturally, closeby were their predators including a garden lizard & a chameleon. Again a perfect photo-op.

Further on the path, one could hear the movement of birds. However, someone pointed out another beetle – A jewel beetle. As I was busy capturing its exotic appearance, another pair of tawny bellied babblers, busy in preening each other reappeared on the scene. The same tree, full of some kind of small green fruit was also hunting ground for a flowerpecker, who after having picked up one through an acrobatic route, decided to enjoy fruits of its labour, giving us all another perfect shot.

As we neared the boat house, a pair of Alexandrine parakeet was easily seen. Also could be seen briefly, but heard more easily, were zitting cisticolas. Here again, the brahmany kite made its apperance while it dived and made an unsuccessful attempt to pick up food from the water. I was more fortunate this time and could get a good picture. We could also see, perched on the poles in the lake, a few cormorants & whiskered terns.

After catching up with each other in the group, we retreated back to the main gate. On our way, I saw a couple of birds, duckish in size & appearance, with slightly rufous in colour, who were trying to sit on top of a tree but were being chased away by the crows. Unfortunately I could not click a picture and, with my limited knwledge, could not identify these.

In all, a morning well spent with passionate birders including Mayuresh & Pravin. And once again, IIT did not disappoint as it provided a few surprises, which can be seen on the link given below: 

http://www.flickr.com/gp/7271923@N06/JS5tdX

With monsoon providing a brief lull, here is looking forward to another bird-walk & soon

Cheers

Ashish

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