Saturday 6 April 2013

An island of birds

This is the second part of the article that deals with the flora and fauna of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bangalore.
While the earlier post was devoted to bats, this is for the many birds that is found in the IISC.
The IISc is an ocean in the vast urban metropolis that Bangalore has now become. This post wishes to record some of the birds that have made IISc their home for several years and they live in relative quite and peace.  
The large number of trees, the vast grasslands and the open spaces all make the campus a veritable sanctuary. Just look around you when you are sure to be astounded abut the flora and fauna.
There are about 8600 species of birds in the world and of them, 1,200 are found in India. Karnataka possess 525 of  them and the IISc campus offers a safe haven for 120 of them.
The IISc is a sprawling campus of 170 hectares and even before the land on which the IISc stands was made over to the institute, it played host to a variety of flora and fauna.
The IISc was an open scrub and forest land before the institute came into being in 1909. A host of scientists and botanists changed the landscape of the IISc but retained its original character. Thus, apart from birds, we also have small animals like the Slender Loris, Bats, snakes and even snails.
The campus is dominated by several fruit trees and avenue trees of  May Flower (Delonix regia), Rain Tree (Samanea saman), Mahogany (Swietenia mahogani), Cassia, Tabebuia,  Ficus benjamina, phyllode Acacia and Casuarina apart from dense thickets of Lantana.
Apart from these trees, grasslands and open ground are found in and around a small area meant to be an airstrip. A small grassy marsh and a pool in an old quarry are the only major wetland habitats in the campus.
Unlike the worldwide phenomenon, tree cover has increased in the campus. Several surveys have been conducted about the birds of IISc and almost all of them are scholarly and well-documented.  Some of the recent surveys have indicated that Iora, Indian Treepie and Little Brown dove are no longer present in the campus and they were found to have migrated to the outskirts of Bangalore. These birds need open grounds and shrubs, which has been decreasing in the IISc campus. These birds are common only in the outskirts of Bangalore where
Large Grey Babblers, Thickbilled flowerpeckers, Tickell’s Flowerpecker, all rare in an urban conglomerate, have been seen. Tickell’s Flowerpecker is found in plenty roosting on Singapore cherry trees (Muntingia calabura), feeding on its berries and also using its fibrous bark for nest building.
The Indian Robin and Pied Bush Chat were found along the Northern boundary of the campus. The Indian Roller and Blackwinged Kite are getting increasingly rare to spot.
The marsh in the campus once had open water and Baya weaverbirds nested from the wild date palms (Phoenix sp.) around it. When the authorities drained the marsh, the Baya seems to have vanished along with the Small Blue Kingfisher.
The quarry pool in the campus  had clear water and Pied Kingfishers regularly fished in it. Today, the water is putrid and
murky and the kingfishers are not seen.
You need prior permission to enter the campus.
The birds that can be generally spotted in the campus are: Grey Pelican (Pelecanus philippensis), Little Cormorant (Phalacrocorax niger). Pond Heron (Ardeola grayii), Large Egret (Ardea alba), Smaller Egret (Egretta intermedia ), Little Egret (Egretta garzetta), Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis), Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax), Painted Stork (Mycteria leucocephala), Lesser Whistling Teal  (Dendrocygna javanica), Pintail (Anas acuta, Shoveller (Anas Penelope), Blackwinged Kite (Elanus caeruleus), Honey Buzzard (Pernis ptilorhynchus), Pariah Kite (Milvus migrans govinda),
Blackeared Kite ( Milvus migrans lineatus), Brahminy Kite (Haliastur Indus), Shikra (Accipiter badius), Sparrow-Hawk (Accipiter nisus), Longlegged Buzzard ( Buteo rufinus), White-eyed Buzzard (Butastur teesa), Crested Hawk-Eagle (Spizaetus cirrhatus), Booted Hawk-Eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus), Tawny Eagle (Aquila rapax), Indian Longbilled Vulture (Gyps indicus), Indian Whitebacked Vulture (Gyps benghalensis), Scavenger Vulture (Neophron percnopterus), Pale Harrier (Circus macrouros),
Montagu’s Harrier (Circus pygargus), Marsh Harrier (Circus aeroginosus),Short-toed Eagle (Circaetus gallicus), Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus japonensis), Shaheen Falcon (Falco peregrinus peregrinator), Red-headed Merlin (Falco chicquera), Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus), Grey Partridge (Francolinus pondicerianus),Yellowlegged Button-Quail (Turnix tanki), Whitebreasted Waterhen (Amaurornis phoenicurus), Redwattled Lapwing (Vanellus indicus), Yellowwattled lapwing (Vanellus malabaricus), Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus), Common Sandpiper (Tringa hypoleucos), Fantail Snipe (Gallinago gallinago), Woodcock ( Scolopax rusticola), Green Pigeon ( Treron phoenicoptera), Blue Rock Pigeon (Columba livia), Rufous Turtle Dove ( Streptopelia orientalis), Red Turtle Dove (Streptopelia tranquebarica), Spotted Dove (Streptopelia chinensis), Little Brown Dove (Streptopelia senegalensis), Roseringed Parakeet (Psittacula krameri), Redbreasted Parakeet (Psittacula alexandrii), Blossom headed Parakeet (Psittacula cyanocephala), Pied Crested Cuckoo (Clamator jacobinus), Common Hawk Cuckoo (Cuculus varius), Indian Cuckoo (Cuculus micropterus), Indian Plaintive Cuckoo (Cacomantis passerinus),  Koel (Eudynamis scolopacea), Crow Pheasant (Centropus sinensis), Barn Owl (Tyto alba), Collared Scops Owl (Otus bakkamoena), Spotted Owlet (Athene brama), Mottled Wood Owl (Strix ocellata), Common Indian Nightjar (Caprimulgus asiaticus), Alpine Swift (Apus melba), House Swift (Apus affinis), Lesser Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis), Small Blue Kingfisher (Alcedo atthix), Whitebreasted Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis), Blackcapped Kingfisher (Halcyon pileata), Bluetailed Bee-eater (Merops philippinus), Small Gree Bee-eater (Merops orientalis), Indian Roller (Coracias benghalensis), Hoopoe (Upupa epops), Small Green Barbet (Megalaima viridis), Crimsonbreasted Barbet (Megalaima haemacephala), Indian Pitta (Pitta brachyuran), Rufouswinged Bushlark,  Ashycrowned Finch-lark (Eremopteryx grisea), Eastern Skylark ( Alauda guglula),Collared Sand Martin ( Riparia riparia), Dusky crag martin (Hirundo concolor), Barn/Common Swallow (Hirundo rustica), Wire Tailed Swallow (Hirundo smithii), Redrumped/Striated Swallow (Hirundo daurica), Baybacked Shrike (Lanius vittatus), Brown Shrike (Lanius cristatus) and Golden Oriole (Oriolus oriolus).
Other birds that can be spotted on a regular basis are: Black Drongo (Dicrurus adsimilis), Grey Drongo (Dicrurus leucophaeus),
Whitebellied Drongo (Dicrurus caerulescens), Haircrested Drongo (Dicrurus hotentottus), Greyheaded Myna (Sturnus malabaricus malabaricus), Whiteheaded Myna ( Sturnus malabaricus blythii), Blackheaded Myna (Sturnus pagodarum), Rosy Pastor (Sturnus roseus), Indian Myna (Acridotheres tristis), Jungle Myna ( Acridotheres fuscus), Indian Treepie (Dendrocitta vagabunda), House Crow (Corvus splendens), Jungle Crow (Corvus macrorhynchus), Common Wood Shrike (Tephrodornis pondicerianus), Large Cuckoo Shrike (Coracina novaehollandiae), Blackheaded Cuckoo Shrike (Coracina melanoptera),
Small Minivet (Pericrocotus cinnamomeus), Common Iora  (Aegithina tiphia), Goldfornted Chloropsis (Chloropsis aurifrons), Goldmantled Chloropsis (Chloropsis cochinchinensis), Redwhiskered Bulbul (Pycnonotus jocosus), Redvented Bulbul (Pycnonotus cafer), Large Grey Babbler ( Turdoides maclolmii), Whiteheaded Babbler (Turdoides affinis), Brown Flycatcher (Muscicapa latirostris), Redbreasted Flycatcher (Muscicapa parva), Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher (Muscicapa tickelliae), Verditer Flycatcher (Muscicapa thalassina), Whitethroated Fantail Flycatcher (Rhipidura albicollis), Paradise Flycatcher (Terpsiphone paradise), Blacknaped Blue Flycatcher (Monarcha azurea), Streaked Fantail Warbler (Cisticola juncidis), Plain Longtailed Warbler (Prinia subflava),  Ashy Longtailed Warbler (Prinia socialis), Tailor Bird (Orthotomus sutorius ), Blyth’s Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus dumetorum), Booted Tree Warbler (Hippolais caligata), Orphean Warbler (Sylvia hortensis), Lesser Whitethroat (Sylvia curruca), Tickell’s Leaf Warbler (Phylloscopus affinis), Greenish Leaf Warbler (Phylloscopus trochiloides), Large Crowned Leaf Warbler (Phylloscopus occipitalis), Bluethroat (Erithacus svecicus), Blue chat (Erithacus brunneus), Magpie Robin (Copsychus malabaricus), Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros), Pied Bush Chat (Saxicola caprata), Indian Robin (Saxicoloides fulicata), Blueheaded Rock Thrush (Monticola cinclorhynchus), Whitethroated Ground Thrush (Zoothera citrine) and  Grey Tit (Parus major).
Surveys have also identified birds in the campus such as Indian Tree Pipit (Anthus hodgsonii),Paddyfield Pipit (Anthus novaseelandiae), Tree Pipit (Anthus trivialis), Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea), White Wagtail (Motacilla alba), Large Pied Wagtail (Motacilla maderaspatensis), Thickbilled Flowerpecker (Dicaeum agile), Tickell’s Flowerpecker (Dicaeum erythrorhynchos), Purplerumped Sunbird (Nectarinia zeylonica), Purple Sunbird (Nectarinia asiatica), Loten’s Sunbird (Nectarinia lotenia), White-Eye (Zosterops palpebrosa), House Sparrow (Passer domesticus), Baya Weaver Bird (Ploceus philippinus), Red Munia (Estrilda amandava), Whitethroated Munia (Lonchura malabarica), Spotted Munia (Lonchura punctulata) and Blackheaded Munia (Lonchura Malacca).
Apart from these birds, there are at least a dozen varieties of snakes including the cobras.

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