The Ber Fruit Weevil (Xanthochelus faunus) is an extremely curious creature. Its antennae are not on its head but at the end of its nose!! And the way it relaxedly moves about leaves and branches on its jointed legs reminds me of a Droideka.
The black weevils you see in your rice sacks are merely little dots. But this one can be two centimeters long, a giant among weevils. Disturb the insect and it will tuck its legs and readily do a free fall to the ground and then climb back up the trunk again.
However it is a principal pest of Ber plantations (Ziziphus mauritiana), whose leaves they eat large irregular holes into. But one cannot help feeling a bit forgiving of them given their peculiar looks and very composed manner of moving around...
Ber Fruit Weevil
A mating pair of Leaf-footed bugs (Coreidae). These insects are characterised by the swollen first segment of their hind legs. They are sap suckers. If picked up they can leave behind a very repulsive smell on your hand. This pair had such confidence of their stink glands that they stood right at the apex of a plant and didn't care who was looking or how close...
These Melamphaus bugs are attracted to fallen Jungli Badam (Sterculia foetida) pods like thieves to gold. Some are lured so strongly that they walk into the mixture of rotting matter and bug saliva inside the pod and drown there!
These insects also have the habit of walking around in joint pairs, facing opposite directions. The male latches and glues itself to the female after mating, for upto two weeks, as a form of post copulatory mate protection. When sitting next to a rotting Jungli Badam, the males are more likely to scurry off insecurely pulling away their respective females along with them, while the still single ones behave less shy...
The fluorescent pink on a Flamingo's upper wings seen only during flight is, I have come to believe, also a form of clear long distance communication. An adult at the head of a flock often flaps its wings in the face of threat, catching the attention of the rest of the birds. And probably the pink guides the flock regarding which direction to fly as well, since when one is directly behind a flying bird the shade of pink is much brighter than from a slight angle...
A young Shikra devours a House Gecko it had just caught, shred by shred...
I was sitting at my balcony today and the screech of a protesting Drongo pointed out the raptor to me. It was looking around ravenously sitting on the apartment's compound. An adult Shikra looks for its prey with a still and calm poise, its head tilted down and only its eyes surveying the ground. But this juvenile bird was intensely glancing around here and there as if it had just lost its house keys. It tried chasing a few squirrels before spotting the Gecko on the neighbouring compound. It flew at the lizard 🦎, which immediately dropped to the ground and tried scampering away. The Shikra flew over, grabbed it with one talon and sat right on the compound railing. But before it could start its meal, there came by two Crows, which were waiting all along for the raptor to catch something, sat on either side of it and tried snatching the Gecko from its feet, making the Shikra fly off to a dilapidated building further away. I had to get down from my apartment and run behind the thing to watch it eat the Gecko...
From an urban balcony too, if one is willing to sit and look, there is enough life unfolding unveiling, right outside...
The caterpillar of a Plain Tiger butterfly 🦋 chomps away on a Calotropis leaf. This Circus clown colouration it is sporting is not for looking fancy, but to warn birds and other predators, which may consider putting this creature on their menu, that it is downright lethal. A whole bunch of critters feed on the poisonous Calotropis leaves, sequester their toxins and then roam around unafraid of any predation.
For us, just the touch of the plant's latex can inflame our skin and make us desperately itch for a long while. And I remember reading that one mature leaf has enough poison in it to be fatal....
Plain Tiger - caterpillar
The Plain Prinia sings its morning song clutching on to the tip of a Palm frond. It spends the first hour of the day flitting around its little territory, broadcasting its voice and establishing its presence.
It calls for a while, then falls silent and turns its head around to listen if anyone else is challenging its song. If two birds happen to call simultaneously in the vicinity, then they fly closer and have a show down of prolonged calls. I don't know the criteria for the winner but in the end one of them which probably has to take more breaths in the middle of calling, flies away.
An example of a nonviolent battle in nature...
The Night Heron is notorious for uttering a loud spooky "WAAAK" right overhead, when you are walking along a dark street in the night, and scaring you out of your senses. And often the bird cannot be spotted above in the inky blackness of the night, so those who can't recognize the bird's call are left even more terrified...
In the early mornings it can be seen at the edge of water bodies searching for grubs, wearing an infinitely suspicious expression. Then for the rest of the day it hides itself in trees and at the last glimmer of dusk it starts its nocturnal wanderings...
Marine buoys are the roosts of many a pelagic bird. Here Bridled terns are perched on each rung of it and one can see the partial white-wash effect they have caused. The lights on the buoys are solar powered and indicate coast guard boundaries. Sometimes many lights don't work! On closer inspection one discovers that the solar panels on the buoys are flawlessly white as a result of the rears of the birds. And Coast guard officials occasionally sail in to wipe the panels clean.
But Terns and other pelagic birds are a great aid to the local fishermen. They look out for congregations of these birds diving into the water, to locate large shoals of fish...
A Blister Beetle (Hycleus polymorphus) feeds on the carpels of a pumpkin flower in a garden...
I have noticed how when I observe an insect, plant or a bird, I also become equally aware of the flux of thoughts and sensations within. There is no difference. The whole thing becomes a continuum, a oneness. Observation is neither of the inside or the outside. The observer is neither within nor without. It is just a fertile spaceless stillness...