Nanmangalam redux

 March 12th 2022

What a lovely morning today at Nanmangalam RF.  Looking back at my blog, I realise its been years (12 years in fact!) since I went in there.  IN 2008, I went on a nature walk with MNS and Bhanu in there, and was introduced to the many wonders of the TDEF including the GHO.  I re-read with amusement trying to find my way there - (no Google Maps).

Our son (a dramatis personae in many of my visits in two Nanmangalam) has "fledged" and the years have well, fled, and to my surprise, Nanmangalam looked better - cleaner, less garbage and more forested.  

Left home at 530 am, picked up Sagarika along the way and arrived at the gates by 615, and as soon as we entered the gates there was that nice woody smell, and the air was cooler.  Almost immediately, the road noises died, and were replaced by the calls of the Brainfever bird and an Asian Koel, almost like a welcome.

At the Interpretation Centre, I looked around and was astonished at the growth of all the little saplings I had seen those many years ago.  How nice to see a tall Red Sanders, Teak trees and scrub too.  Most of us do not appreciate scrub enough - it is such a wonderful host to bird and insect life.

Companions today were the MNS Backbencher gang, with some additions - Janani whom I met for the first time and realised that she was born after I graduated, and Vidya from Stella Maris.  Srinivas it was with whom we went.  Janani, Umesh and Sagarika were the photographers with their serious equipment, Vidya was making a list, pen-on-paper, Srinivas was logging directly into his e-bird list, Kalpana was busy with flora too....and I was the one who had no agenda... no responsibility...very nice indeed.  Just binocularing and bipedding.  

Everything was still in silhouette and shadow as we started towards the quarry.

Peacock calls filled the air - they seem to have come in to the city through the lockdown, and made it home.  Janani captured this male in flight, in all its colourful glory.

There is a joy in malingering and dawdling when in a forest.  Every step brings some new delight.  Munias in large flocks sped by from east to west.  At least 200 or more, probably scaly-breasted.  The Francolins called from the scrub.   

Ashy Woodswallows swooped and dived and then went back and perched back in their characteristic huddle together, like a rugby team ready for a scrum! (Photo by Janani)

While this one seemed to be curious about the cameraperson.  (Photo by Sagarika)

Red Whiskered Bulbuls called cheerfully as I admired the different kinds of white flowers growing in the sides of the track.

Mealy bugs, whiteflies and carpenter bees, Aavaram poo, Carissa and Mallows.  Dodonea bushes reminded me of Yercaud Youreka camp.  

We even had a Spoonbill flypast.  Photo by Janani

TDEFs are filled with white flowering plants, and so it was here too.  I think this was an Ipomoea of some sort.

While this was a Carissa probably.

Lifers for me - Much excitement over a fleeting glimpse over a Forest Wagtail - which I have not seen in all these years, and that very uncommon Common Babbler.  

My fleeting glimpse of forest wagtail (Dendronanthus indicus), was all that Umesh needed to capture this beautiful image, on a leafless tree in the early morning light.  This winter visitor has eluded me all these years.  As Janani remarked, we are used to searching for wagtails on the ground, but this one is unique, a "forest" one.  And to add to that, its tail wag is also sideways supposedly.

The uncommon Common Babbler - Photo by Janani - that was spotted near one of the check dams.    

A few more pictures - here with tail seen - Photo by Sagarika - on a different branch.  I would have assumed it was a prinia, if not for Umesh's idying skills.  The white throat, and streaked brown back (and that crotchety babbler look?!) are possibly pointers.  

The common babbler (Argya caudata).  Photo by Sagarika.  The species has been moved from Laughing Thrushes (Turdoides) to Babblers.  It seems to be endemic to India.

Seed pods in black filled a shrub, 

while thorns galore protected this leafless Prosopsis cineraria, 
a Laughing Dove seemed to think the thorns of the Prosopsis were a joke,  (Photo by Sagarika)

and for these thorns, the sky was the limit. 

The quarry waters were delightfully clean.   The air was filed with birds calls - the white-browed babblers gurgled in the undergrowth, Booted Warblers and Blyth's too, a Pond Heron squawked, and  on the opposite side, a pair of Indian Robins hopped around, the reddish vent of the male flashing every now and then as it flicked its tail this way and that.

A Cormorant sat atop a bare dead tree trunk in the middle of the quarry, preening itself, in-between extreme meditation.  Photo by Umesh.

 A Common Kingfisher of absolutely brilliant blue streaked by before settling on a branch on the opposite side. The Common Kingfisher - Photo by Janani

We scanned the quarry rocks for signs of the GHO, but no luck.  The Forest Rangers said that hadn't seen them for three months now.  I hope they haven't abandoned their roost.

The forest was filled with Siris trees.  Some like this one were in flower, others were in pod.  Blue-face Malkohas were sighted in one.  

Another one seemed to have just had a dip in the quarry and was shaking the water off its feathers.  Photo by Janani

The Forest Rangers were very knowledgeable, and we enjoyed their company.  Umesh showed them pics through his camera LCD finder, and they were delighted too!  I think the best moment was the all-round delight at the Malkoha  with the ruffled, post-bath look!

The avaram bushes were like a shower of sunshine amongst the drying undergrowth.

They were all buzzing with active Carpenter bees, some with their heads looking like they were carrying a load of gold!  The (male?) bee with a load of gold,  (Photo by Janani)

..and a (female?) bee without.  (Photo by Umesh)

A Fragrant Swamp Mallow stood delicately on the side, unnoticed.

We were reluctant to leave, enjoying the Shikras in the air, the Laughing Doves and Coppersmith Barbets calling, Drongos snapping up insects on the go, and that unbelievably brilliantly coloured Green Bee-eater. Srinivas gently trying to make us get a move on - its a difficult job getting MNS sorts moving - Sekar will vouch for it.  

The Green bee-eater Photo by Janani

Now, the butterflies also began to appear, and our return was spent with Sagarika, Kalpana and Vidya trying to capture those flutterbys.  I watched them, crouch and squat, crane their necks and focus, focus.  They looked as industrious as the other creatures of the forest.  I was the indolent day dreamer, the lotus eater, rambling with my binoculars!!
Common Cerulean that is actually brown - Photo by Sagarika

Zebra Blue among the grasses - Photo by Sagarika

As we drove back through Velachery/Vijaynagar, I was also filled with other memories - of Navadisha, Montessori, yearly rain holidays, Mothi Travels, chittis. "Good old days", as my father always likes to say. 

(And I crossed 100 bird species seen this year.)


  1. Beautiful morning indeed, so well captured.
    (Told ya, you visited before 2016 he he he )

  2. The malkhoa post dip..too cute..well the anothee moment worth remembering is woodswallows mobbing crows..for a change crows were at the receiving end..


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