w w w . i n d i a w i l d s . c o m
home
about Sabyasachi Patra
diary
forums
image gallery
contact IndiaWilds
Home
About
Diary
Forums
Gallery
ContactUs

User Tag List

Page 5 of 5 FirstFirst ... 345
Results 161 to 174 of 174

Thread: Country notebook:m.krishnan

  1. #161
    Join Date
    27-05-11
    Location
    Salt Lake, Kolkata
    Posts
    4,250
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    Default

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    COUNTRY NOTEBOOK : M. Krishnan : Stag parties in Kanha : The Sunday Statesman : 18 November 2018
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    STAG PARTIES IN KANHA
    ( CHITAL)

    " I looked for Stag-parties of Chital in the Kanha National Park. Here, as in places in Uttar Pradesh, the deer can be seen in large herds in comparatively open country, and on somewhat similar ground. In the Masinagudi area of the Mudumalai Sanctuary of Madras, I have repeatedly observed large Stag parties in September- October.

    In other gregarious deer, such as Swamp Deer, such seasonal schools of adult males are well known.

    Chital are highly gregarious, particularly when living not in tree forests, but in open scrub jungles; but so far as I know, no one before me has reported regular herds of Stags among them. I have watched such Stag-parties in the Masinagudi area over many years -- in September-October herds consisting only of Stags, at times over 150 in strength, can be seen here; some of the Stags are in hard horn, some in velvet and quite a few have polled heads, having just shed their antlers, so that from a distance (and it is hard to get close to these deer in the open country) they look like big hinds.

    However, by watching them through glasses as they crossed a ridge in a line, silhouetted against the I had satisfied myself that there were only adult Stags in the herd. Sometimes (and this is true of Swamp deer, too) an old or sub-adult hind or two may be found with a school of Stags, but this does not make it any less of Stag-party.

    In Kanha, I was not able to see any large school of Chital Stags. But I was there in May; may be in the cold weather, after the rains, there are big herds of Stags to be seen here too, though the grass and herbage will be obscuringly tall then. However, I did see quite a few small parties,from 3 to 9, consisting entirely of stags. These were in hard horn, and among them were some superb animals, with magnificent antlers. Many of them were limping, and carried flesh wounds.

    There is no definite rut, confined to a particular season or part of the year, among Chital, even in North India; Stags in velvet and in hard horn, and very young fawns, may be seen at all seasons. Moreover, the courtship is a rather prolonged process as among most herbivores, though the climatic act of mating is quick, a fact little appreciated by most naturalists and unknown to quite a few of them. As in most deer, Chital stags, when they engage in combat, attack each other from close quarters and with savage fury. The brunt of the sudden forward thrust, with the head lowered and the entire body weight behind it, is usually borne by the clashing, interlocking antlers, one of the combatants gets pushed back after awhile, and disengaging its locked antlers, turns quickly round and runs away, but it does not always escape unscathed; a glancing thrust from the antlers of the opponent, following up, often inflicts a nasty flesh wound. Apparently the limping stags I saw were fellows in misfortune, suffering from such wounds."

    - M. Krishnan

    This was published on 6 April 1969.

    #The photograph of Chital stags in a herd not reproduced here.

  2. #162
    Join Date
    27-05-11
    Location
    Salt Lake, Kolkata
    Posts
    4,250
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    Default

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    COUNTRY NOTEBOOK : M. Krishnan : The Slender Loris : The Sunday Statesman : 30 December 2018
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    SLENDER LORIS

    " By the time I was 41, I had to admit that I had lost my long fight with myself, and that what people euphemistically term the spread of middle age, and botanists more bluntly secondary thickening had overtaken me. And on my forty-first birthday I wrote these lines on the Slender Loris, in envy and regret.

    I wish I were a Slender Loris
    And not a massive human being.
    In such a change of course
    Much more is
    Lost that is gained, for though agreeing
    With men in lacking tail and manners,
    On evolution's path it lingers
    Bar back' we have reached the
    Destination
    All the days it sleeps with shaking Fingers
    Over sun-shy eyes, no fasination
    Lmoels its night; slow-limbed
    The stories
    Or trees it climbs for insect plunder.
    But still I wish I were a loris --
    Beyond all argument it's slender

    By no means an inspired verse, but factually very sound. The Slender Loris (and even the Slow Loris of north-east India, with its body and limbs much thicker) is a featherweight, the size of a kitten and slim, with a very narrow waist and hard, thin limbs; the great goggle eyes are set on by a patch of dark fur around each of them and as one might guess from its owl-face and big, round orbs, it is a creature of the night.

    It is highly arboreal, and spends the day in sleep, deep in the shady cover of a tree top, with its face buried in its chest, bird like and often with its hands over its eyes to shed them from the glare, especially when it is forced to keep awake by day. It is from its round face and its habit of shading its eyes with its hands that it gets its Hindi name, Sharmindi-billi (the bashful cat).

    Lorises are among the small creatures the are missed easily, and so are seldom seen.In fact I can recall seeing a loris only thrice-a pair of slow Lorises high up a tree in Bhutan,and a Slender Loris twice in the south, also up trees and on both occasions late in the evening. Unfortunately for it, the slender Loris is credited by superstition with the ability to bring one luck, and its gnomelike looks are so unusual the it is commonly kept in a cage and exhibited in zoos, and as a captive animal (usually exposed to much more glare that it can tolerate) it is by no mean unfamiliar.

    It is not only that they do not give it a cage large enough and deadly enough small in sleen in comfort through the day on some suitable perch -- they often give it the wrong diet as well, bread-and-milk and bananas. I do not know if a slender Loris is exclusively insectivorous when wild; perhaps it also eats eggs and even small tree-living lizards when it can find them, and soft fruits and other vegetarian fare. But I am quite sure that it dose need insect food or some suitable substitute.

    In fact, its dentition is hardly that of a fruit-eater and, as I learnt in the most unpleasant manner imaginable, it has sharp teeth. To get the picture reproduced here I had the two captive Lorises taken out of their cage and placed on a long length of tamarind bough, with one end planted into the earth. Somehow those Lorises did not want their picture taken. As soon as they were put on the bough, they climbed quickly down and made for the security of their cage, moving over the ground at an awkward, shambling shurie much faster than on the bough, I caught them both and gently redeposited them on the bough, and in the process got a sharp nip from one, which confirmed my views on its dentition.

    A man whom I know, who kept a Loris for a pet, told me that the animal once made a bid for liberty, and on being chased, entered a pool of water and swam across, using a rhythmic breast-stroke, only to be caught on reaching the farther bank. I cannot vouch for the accuracy of this report, but believe it, for most animals can swim when they have to."

    - M.Krishnan

    This was published on 13 July 1969
    #The photograph of Lorises has not been reproduced here.

  3. #163
    Join Date
    24-11-08
    Location
    New Delhi
    Posts
    15,545
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    1 Thread(s)

    Default

    Sighting of a slender-loris is so difficult these days unless one is out in the night with torch. I would love to see one swim. Wonder how fast it can swim.

  4. #164
    Join Date
    11-05-09
    Location
    Kuala Lumpur
    Posts
    1,667
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    Default

    I have never seen a loris in India. I was fortunate to spot a slow loris last year when in the jungles of Borneo. There were 2 of them, large eyes, one had a brown coat and the other a greenish tinge in its coat, moving super slow but distinctly looking at our torch light.

  5. #165
    Join Date
    27-05-11
    Location
    Salt Lake, Kolkata
    Posts
    4,250
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    Default

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    COUNTRY NOTEBOOK : M. Krishnan : The Mocking Bird : The Sunday Statesman : 10 February 2019
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    THE MOCKING BIRD

    HARIAL
    (Green Pigeon)

    " Those who have spent some time in the deeper forests might have heard, probably when they were alone and immobile, a loud, fluent, mocking bird voice and looked for its source and found nothing. Bird-calls are difficult to render in words because, lacking consonant and even defined vowels, it is only their fortuitous resemblance to familiar phrases in their syllabic break-up that provides the rendering into words, and this is dependent as much on the hearer as on the call. But about the undercurrent of mockery in this particular call-to human ears- there is little doubt.

    The first time I heard the call I had been following a heard of elephants along a forest road, and on leaving the road to continue following the great beasts lost them suddenly round a bend (a thing which is quite easy to do, in spite of the huge size of elephants). After a while I realized that I had also my way, and didn't have the foggiest notion where the road was. I tried getting back to the road along a nullah and after two miles sat down in the shade of a giant flaf for rest and reorientation. It was then that I heard this call. I could not place the direction from which it came exactly, though the call was loud and seemed quite close, and although I looked hard all around and above I could see nothing that might have been responsible for the sound. Then I heard it again and though I could not see the bird, it was very clear to me what it was saying. "You fool !" it said "you are miles from the road". I was.

    It was only after another such experience with the voice that I located its owner; it was the Harial (the Green Pigeon) and naturally I had missed seeing it; against a leafy tree top the bird is almost invisible- and with a call so uncolumbine in its accents and intonation, even if I had seen a Harial near where the call came from, I would have looked elsewhere for my bird.

    Last summer, near Churna in M.P., I tried sitting up during the day beside the only stream in the neighbourhood, a mere chain of half-a-dozen elongated, shallow puddles in the dry, sandy, rocky bed of the stream. It seemed most unlikely that any animal would come there during the scorching heat of the day, but the concentration of Sambar and Pig slots on the impressionable sand tempted me to put up a hide of dry grass and sit up for two days. At the end of it, it was clear that the animals came to the water only after sunset, but the bird life of those little pools was most interesting. In the evening flocks of Harial and Rose ringed and Plum- headed Parakeets came there, to guzzle the coarse river sand.

    Right by my hide there was a leafless, twisted tree, bristling with dry branches, and I counted over 30 Harials in it they quarreled for perches on it like all pigeons, and they were very pigeon- like in their take off with audibly flapping wings, and they sat there for an hour or longer peeking all round to make sure that no one was there in the neighbourhood, before they dropped to the stream-bed to drink and eat sand. I had ample opportunity to listen to them and noticed that a cock serenading a hen on a treetop, further up the bank, had a recognizably pigeon-like call, very different from the usual, mocking call. I thought of many renderings of the common call, but came up with nothing better than
    "You fool ! You are miles from the road".

    - M. Krishnan

    This was published on 5 October 1969

    # The photograph of the birds on stream-bed has not been reproduced here.

  6. #166
    Join Date
    27-05-11
    Location
    Salt Lake, Kolkata
    Posts
    4,250
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    Default

    Apropos of the posting above on 24-02-2019 : 6.45 p.m, the Correct Caption may please be read as under:

    THE MOCKING BIRD

    HARIAL
    (Green Pigeon)

    I sincerely regret for the mistake.
    Saktipada Panigrahi
    25.02.2019

  7. #167
    Join Date
    27-05-11
    Location
    Salt Lake, Kolkata
    Posts
    4,250
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    Default

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    COUNTRY NOTEBOOK : M. Krishnan : Elephants in Musth : The Sunday Statesman : 3 March 2019
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    ELEPHANTS IN MUSTH

    " THERE were quite a few tuskers in the herd of Elephants ( which I thought a composite herd ) at the Corbett National Park, and in the evenings, when they came out of sal cover and crossed open ground to get the water, they were usually by themselves. There was a small, mean-looking old bull with both tusks broken off short who was said to have a nasty temper, and a massive, medium-sized bull with short blunt tusks, also well past his prime, who had the habit of grazing steadily towards human intruders till they moved off. Besides these, there were three sub-adult tuskers, and I thought that was the lot.

    Then one evening a much more impressive bull, with yard-long symmetrically curved tusks, taller than other bulls and longer and heavier in the barrel came out of the sal forest. The herd and oter bulls were half a mile away, and this bull crossed the narrow belt of open scrub behind the rest house and made straight for the Ramganga.

    I had a good look at him as he crossed the clearing, the slanting light of the descending sun illuminating him warmly and bringing out every little surface detail in sharp relief. He was in his prime, probably about 40 or 45 years old, with a black skin flecked with pink on the trunk and a pink trunk-tip, and covered thinly with red dust, and on either side of the face, between eye and ear there was red patch, as if the iron of his hide rusted there - this was where the dust had settled on the sticky exudation from his musth glands.

    I followed him discreetly, keeping well behind, as he went down the boulder-strewn path through the forest to the river. Once he was at the water, it was possible to approach much closer among the opposite bank but although the photographer in me urged me to do so. I had the sense to stay hidden at a sufficient distance so that I could watch once again a big tusker in musth spraying the cooling water over the irritating patches on either side of his brow where the secretion from the musth glands had spread over the skin.

    Bull elephants in musth, as I reported in this column some years ago, often carry clinging, hard-packed day on their tusks, even after bath, and I had supposed because they had used their tusks, after a bath, and i had supposed this was because they had used their tusks to dig up something, some corm or luber deep in the earth, which when they are in musth, the deep digging fixing the earth so firmly on to the ivory that even subsequent spraying with water could not wash it off - I have seen a tusker swim right across the fast flowing Periyer with his head submerged most of the time and when he climbed ashore the mud was still clinging to his tusks.

    Soon after a bath, the elephants throw dust, or at times mire, all over themselves; this habit cannot possibly fix the earth so firmly to the tasks that it stays on after the next bath - there should be no confusion on this account.

    Well, I spent one of the pleasantest hours I have have lived through watching the great beast drink deep at the Ramganga and then spray the water systematically all over his head and body. Then clean-washed and glistening black, he crossed the river where it was shallow, climbed on to the bank on which I was, and searched around till he found a suitable patch of dry earth which he kicked up with his forefeet till it was loose and powdery; then picking up
    ( Contd.)
    Last edited by Saktipada Panigrahi; 04-03-2019 at 11:47 AM.

  8. #168
    Join Date
    27-05-11
    Location
    Salt Lake, Kolkata
    Posts
    4,250
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    Default

    Elephants in Musth
    (contd. from previous page)


    ... the dust in his trunk, he threw it over himself. After this, he went up to the steep earth bank, and selecting a clear spot on its perpendicular wall, drove its tusks into it, using his great mass to bury them deep, and stood leaning his weight against the bank. Luckily, I had a small pocket-telescope with me (the normal lens of my 35 mm camera screwed on to a special eyepiece, and most useful implement) and was able to watch entire operation closely.

    As he stood, leaning his buried tusks, the compression of the attitude on the head and face caused the musth to flow out of the temporal glands, and no doubt the fact the pores in the skin over them have been freshly washed free of all clogging matter helped in this. I suppose elephants in musth get some relief by expressing the secretion from the tumid glands in this manner. After a while he leaned back, pulled his tusks out of the earth and sauntered away, and I noticed lumps of impacted clay sticking to his tusks, and realized at last what causes tuskers in musth to carry hard clay on their ivory."

    - M. Krishnan

    This was published on 14 December 1969.

    # The photograph of the lone tusker in musth has not been reproduced here.

  9. #169
    Join Date
    27-05-11
    Location
    Salt Lake, Kolkata
    Posts
    4,250
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    Default

    __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ ___________________________________________
    COUNTRY NOTEBOOK : M. Krishnan : Fish, Feathers and Oil : The Sunday Statesman : 19 May 2019
    __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ ___________________________________________

    FISH, FEATHERS AND OIL

    " FISH as everyone knows, lives in the water and naturally the creatures that live by hunting them have to seek their prey beneath the surface, in rivers and lakes and estuaries. However, not all these hunters, particularly among the birds, swim submerged in hunting their prey.

    Egrets and Herons and their tribes wade in the shallows, catching their victims with a lightning down-ward thrust of their beaks, their long, retracted necks being violently extended to power the movement.

    Kingfishers and Raptorial fish-eaters ( such as Sea Eagles and Ospreys ) plunge down from the air at the surfacing fish, grabbing the prey in their beaks and talons, and Pelicans often hunt in company (as cormorants also do at times) driving the fish towards one another and scooping them up in their capacious beaks.

    The Darter, however, is a true underwater hunter, and a bird that hunts alone. It drops quietly from its perch into the water with hardly so much as a splash, and goes scouting for fish under water, lifting its dagger-billed head and long, snaky, powerfully-kinked neck above the surface from time to time to breathe or to have a look around, or to swallow its catch - the popular name that it has, " Snake-bird ", come from the resemblance that it has then to a snake in the water raising its head above the surface.

    It does not spear its prey, spitting it through on the pointed bill, as was once supposed but catches it like any other fish-eater, between its mandibles. It swallows its prey in the air, raising its head above the surface, and flicking the fish deftly into the air to catch it, usually head down and swallow it.

    After a spell of hunting, it leaves the water and flies up to some convenient perch, an exposed branch of a waterside tree or a column or deadwood projecting from the surface, and spreading its ample wing and long tail, sits airing them. And when they are properly dry, it oils its plumage carefully, rubbing its bill over the gland just above the tail to smear it with oil, and then rubbing it all over its feathers.

    A water-bird does not take kindly to overmuch oiling of its plumage, for once the delicate but firm inter-meshing of the hair-like bards that make up each feather gets clogged with oil, the bird cannot fly and loses the airiness of its feathers. It is because of this the pollution of the sea with waste oil from coastal factories kills off great numbers of oceanic birds. What is needed is just a little oil on the feathers, to keep the water from rendering them soggy, and not too much of it, and the oil-gland of the bird produces the right grade and quantity needed for this thin insulating film.

    Cormorants (close relative of the Darter) have the same habit. After a spell of underwater hunting, they too sit atop exposed perches and hangout their wings to dry before oiling the plumage. But they lack dagger bill and long, strong snaky neck, and almost reptilian plumage pattern of the Darter."

    - M. Krishnan

    This was published on 26 July 1970.
    The photograph of a waterbird hanging out its wings for drying has not been reproduced here.

  10. #170
    Join Date
    27-05-11
    Location
    Salt Lake, Kolkata
    Posts
    4,250
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    Default

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    COUNTRY NOTEBOOK: M. Krishnan : A King among Fishers : The Sunday Statesman : 02 June 2019
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    PIED KINGFISHER

    " EDWIN Arnold was never a major poet. Even in India and as author of THE LIGHT OF ASIA he is, probably unfamiliar to most people today.But in the course of his classic on the Buddha's life he describes many Indian birds rather prettily and among them the Pied Kingfisher which he calls " the Pied Fish-Tiger ".

    Not a specially happy appellation, I think. There are other birds that hunt fish which have the power and predatory features and fierceness that would fit the name better, the Osprey and the Fish-Owl, for instance, though I concede they are not pied black and white.

    However, the fish would probably agree with the poet for there are few more inveterate fish-hunters. Perhaps this bird is the most piscivorous of the kingfishers, though it does at times take other small fry from water, it lives almost entirely on fishes mainly on the smaller kinds. It is never found away from water, and while it frequents lakes ans estuaries as well it is typically a bird of broad, fast-flowing rivers. I have never seen it at a pond, as I have seen others of its tribe.

    The manner of hunting too is much more active and predacious than that of other kingfishers. It does not sit perched on some bank or bough overlooking water keeping a sharp watch for approaching prey, but flies low and swift over the water, and when it spots a rising fish, it hovers above it on quick-beating wings, hanging in the air very much in the manner of a Kestrel, and then plummets straight down on its victim. It may plunge a foot or more into the water to reach the unlucky fish, and it is not often that it misses its aim.

    On this point, however, I am unable to agree entirely with other observers, who say it rarely fails to come up with prey. I have seen it come up empty-billed many times. Recently at the Periyar Sanctuary of Kerala, I had the opportunity to watch four of these kingfishers (two pairs, I think - this bird is often to be seen in pairs, separated by some distance while hunting) for a whole hour, one afternoon. Naturally I was not able to watch all the birds all the time, because they were hunting a considerable stretch of water and I could not observe the other birds while watching one of them. But from 27 plunges, only 17 were successful. Incidentally the bird in my picture (one of the four birds I watched at Periyar) is a male. The female Pied Kingfisher lacks the double necklace, having only one incomplete band of black across the white chest."

    - M. Krishnan

    This was published on 23 August 1970.
    #The photograph of the male Pied Kingfisher has not been reproduced here.

  11. #171
    Join Date
    27-05-11
    Location
    Salt Lake, Kolkata
    Posts
    4,250
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    Default

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    COUNTRY NOTEBOOK : M. Krishnan : Monkeying in the deep : The Sunday Statesman : 7 July 2019
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    MONKEYING IN THE DEEP
    (Swimming ability)

    " THE MACAQUES as a family, are good swimmers. The Rhesus, the most familiar monkey of the North, does not take to water, can even swim submerged for some distance. Once I saw a Rhesus plunge into the water and swim about 10 yards submerged before surfacing and have many times seen these monkeys actually preferring a short cut across water to skirting a large pool, when at some convenient point the farther bank was near. They are not afraid of deep water, but take care to avoid strong currents.

    Many people must have read newspaper accounts of a big Rhesus Monkey that plunged into a lake to rescue a human child that had fallen in. I was unable to verify this story, but see nothing intrinsically impossible in it. An unreasoned, instinctive urge to rescue an infant of its own kind in similar circumstances might well have been extended to a human infant.

    My picture will prove that the Bonnet Monkey, the commonest monkey of the South and a macaque, is also a strong swimmer and does not hesitate to carry its baby with it while swimming, riding high piggy back and not clasped to the abdomen as usual, naturally not! The she-monkey was crossing a deep, wide temple pond when I took the picture.

    Nothing is known about swimming abilities of the other Macaques of India -
    the pigtailed and stumptailed macaques of Assam and liontailed monkey of the Southern hills. But probably they can swim well. I was given an account of how a liontailed macaque swam across the deep pool beneath a waterfall in Courtallam (in which pool I was nearly drowned), by man who claimed to have watched the feat.

    But do Langurs swim? I doubt they do. Of the four Langurs in our country, three (the Nilgiri black Langur, the Golden Langur and the Capped Langur) are highly localised forest monkeys of whose life we know little. The Golden Langur (presbytis qeei) occurs in the Bhutan side of Manas, but from enquiry I learnt it was not* to be found on the Indian side. That proves nothing. The Manas is a wide fast-flowing river that most animals might not care to cross.

    But I doubt if Langurs swim. I have mentioned three highly restricted kinds of Langur, and the fourth, the Common Langur, is not only common but is also the only monkey with an All India distribution from Kanyakumari to the Himalayas, from Maharashtra to Assam. I have often watched it near water in many different forests in the country (for it is essentially a forest monkey) and though it drinks regularly, the caution of its approach to water and the way it hugs the land while drinking, preferring to drink from puddle near a lake or pond direct, suggests a distrust of water.

    I wonder if some reader who has been more fortunate than I can tell me if he has actually seen a Langur in deep water, and if at a pinch it can swim some distance, say, when it has accidentally fallen into deep water. Many animals which seldom enters water can swim a few yards, inexpertly, if they must. Even I can."

    - M. Krishnan

    This was published on 18 October 1970

    * The Golden Langur (discovered in 1956) has subsequently been found in the adjoining and other forests of Assam in India. .
    # The photograph of a She-Bonnet Monkey with baby riding on her back swimming and crossing a pond has not been reproduced here.

  12. #172
    Join Date
    27-05-11
    Location
    Salt Lake, Kolkata
    Posts
    4,250
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    Default

    __________________________________________________ _______________________________________
    COUNTRY NOTEBOOK : M. Krishnan : A Tiger of the Treetops : The Sunday Statesman : 28 July 2019
    __________________________________________________ _______________________________________

    Crested Hawk-Eagle

    "IN September, going along a forest road at the foothills of the Nilgiris I saw a bird of prey in a treetop far ahead of me. It was sitting hunched on a horizontal branch, tearing with its beak at something held in its talons.
    I was curious to know what it had killed, the prey seemed to be no bird, being a brown-grey mass with no feathers.It is a sound rule to presume that any bird you can see has seen you already, for a bird's vision is infinitely sharper and longer than ours. But this was bent on what it was doing, literally bent over its prey, and I thought I could creep up from behind for a closer look.

    In this I succeeded better than I had hoped to. I got right up to the tree it was on without its being aware of me, but the bole hid it from view. Keeping my body behind the bole, I leaned my head out to one side and peered up.

    It was a Crested Hawk-Eagle and its victim was a young hare - that much I could see at once. I could get only a back view of the bird, but the thick, powerful legs, feathered white to the toes, and the dark white-tipped plumes on top of the head dancing in the breeze is unmistakable. Evidently the kill had been made only minutes previously - the belly skin had been flayed and the bird was tearing at the flesh, and a slow, dark drop of viscous blood dropped down from the bough.

    I kept still and silent, but all at once it knew I was there. It lifted its head from the hare, and keeping the body immobile, slowly turned its head to look down at me along its back; one glaring cadmium-yellow eye and then both as the face was turned further round stared down at me and then it lifted its wings slightly, took a small hop along the bough, and shed into the air the hare held in both feet, with only its head and long ears dangling down from the comprehensive clutch of the talons. With strong even beats of its powerful wings the Hawk-Eagle crossed the clearing, flying low, rose effortlessly above the tree-line sailed beyond and dropped out of sight behind the trees.

    That hare was only three quarters grown and probably weighed only three pounds but still I felt surprised at the ease with which the bird handled its prey - after all that Crested Hawk-Eagle which was only a little larger than a Common Kite (though it had powerful pillar-like legs and thick murderously taloned toes) could not have weighed much over four pounds - from its slim compact build I thought it was a male - as in most birds of prey, the female is bigger built and more powerful.

    Years ago in a rather similar open tree forest, I saw a Crested Hawk-Eagle carrying a fully grown hare, and more recently a giant squirrel. There are eagles much larger in size than this hawk-eagle, but this is a far bolder and fiercer hunter than they, in fact, the Hawk-Eagles as a tribe are among the greatest hunters among birds, and attack and kill prey larger than themselves, such as peafowl, which few of larger eagles do.

    Though a handsome and impressive bird when seen from near from near its mottled browns and yellows merge with the colour and texture of bark and boughs, and it is inconspicuous in the treetops which it loves.It flies strongly and I think it has a longer wing than text-books give it credit for and it soars at times as well, but it is essentially a bird of tree-tops.

    From its elevated perch it keeps a sharp lookout, often bobbing and angling its head to get a sharper focus, for something to come out of the cover into the open a bird, or a small mammal or even a snake. It drops swiftly down on its victim and the powerful talons squeeze the life out of it, the beak being also used to kill it at times. Its mode of hunting is more a specialised kind of thug-gery than the long soaring flights and spectacular stoops of the eagles and falcons - in fact it hunts rather like a Short-winged Hawk, lurking in cover to kill, and that is probably why it is called a Hawk Eagle."

    - M. Krishnan

    # This was published on 7 March 1971
    + The photograph of the Hawk-Eagle has not been reproduced here.

  13. #173
    Join Date
    27-05-11
    Location
    Salt Lake, Kolkata
    Posts
    4,250
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    Default

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    COUNTRY NOTEBOOK : M. Krishnan : Wallowing in the mire : The Sunday Statesman : 4 August 2019
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Wallow in the mire
    (Elephant)

    " AFTER A BATH, especially after swimming across a river, Elephants love nothing better than to kick up the earth into a fine powder with their forelegs, and to dust themselves all over their gleaming bodies with the dry earth.Very young calves,and even older calves do not indulge in these dust-baths after a plunge into water but the sub-adults do.If there is a patch of mire handy,they proceed to it a and squirt the mud all over themselves and while cows also indulge in this slinging of mud over themselves it is the grown bulls that seem fondest of it, wallowing in the mire till they have acquired a regular plaster of it over their bodies, heads and limbs.

    Obviously, a wallow in the mire is cooling and gratifying when the sun (which our elephants do not like) is hot especially in dry summer. But even when it is cloudy and the air is humid, as during the monsoons,elephants love a mud-lark. I have watched a herd of a dozen elephants spend over an hour in a shallow, muddy pool on an overcast September day picking up the mire in the crook of their trunk tips and slinging it over themselves and even their fellows. Only a young cow, with an infant calf (barely a week old) refrained from the orgy. Even Quite young calves will lie down and play in the their trunks to fling it over themselves till they are older.

    As said, it is the bulls, especially the lone bulls (which feel no urge to follow the herd when it moves off) that indulge most zestfully in these mud-baths.Years ago I came upon a tusker that was a deep crimson all over except for a little white showing through on his tusks he had dusted himself with some dry fine, crimson earth after a good mud-bath. However, the muddiest elephant I have ever seen was a long bull I saw in the Bandipur Sanctuary of Mysore in October,1968.

    He was behind a big bush, and it had been drizzling, and for a moment I thought he was a huge anthill wet with the rain. Then it occurred to me that a wet anthill would not gleam with oozing mud, and I looked again and saw the anthill moving. He was looking at us from behind that bush,and when we stopped he came out into the open for a closer look - a tusker so comprehensively plastered with mud that even his tusks were a dark glistening raw umber, that had evidently been enjoying a thorough roll in a patch of deep mire, about a furlong away.

    My picture, in black-and-white though clear enough, does not adequately convey the muddiness of old Muddy as I saw him then.He was just a moving mass of clayey wet earth, with no surface detail, and with his features merging into one another because of their common, umber- coloured earth nesa.

    Various reasons have been assigned for this elephantine love of mud-other animals,too,pig rhinos and wild buffaloes(and even tame ones),love a good wallow in the mire.All these animals have thick hides,and the elephant and rhino with the hide much creased in addition. Undoubtedly mud serves to cleanse their creased and pitted skin more thoroughly then water especially when coated on after a plunge in water, for it clings on till dry and then flakes off.The virtues of a good plaster of mud as a cutaneous tonic and palliative area known even to smooth thin-skinned humanity, but probably this logical, cause-and-effect reasoning dose not adequately cover the question. There is also the recreational and voluptuous enjoyment of a mud-bath to be considered."

    - M. KRISHNAN

    @ This was published on 28 March 1971
    # The photograph of a massive tusker has not been reproduced here
    Last edited by Saktipada Panigrahi; 09-08-2019 at 11:22 AM.

  14. #174
    Join Date
    27-05-11
    Location
    Salt Lake, Kolkata
    Posts
    4,250
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    Default

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    COUNTRY NOTEBOOK: M.Krishnan : Tiger, tiger, not burning bright :The Sunday Statesman:1 September 2019
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    " THE TIGER, according to the experts, does not burn bright in the forests of night, and even by day its orange-ochre and white pelage boldly striped with black is obliterative serving to break up contour and merge with the streaky grass and bushes. In assessing the cryptic patterning of the tiger's coat two things should be remembered. First, most of the animals it preys on (deer, pig, cattle and the like) are colour blind so far as we know and can see things only in terms of black grey and white, somewhat like panchromatic film. Second at night when light levels are low and the tiger usually hunts even our colour sensitive eyes cannot readily distinguish between colours.

    I have had considerable difficulty in spotting a leopard in the under-shrub and even been totally unable to make it out from near, but not a tiger. No doubt that is because of the tigers much larger size. But even when in heavy cover when it is only glimpsed through intervening foliage and twigs the tigers face has certain conspicuous features the circles of white around the eyes (the "sunspots") marked with black bars and spots the white whiskers framing the face and the white chin (closely spotted with black only near the mouth) its mask gives away the tiger when it looks up at one from cover. However when hunting or hiding it seldom looks up. It keeps its head lowered as if it knows in some dim instinctive way that by lowering its head its chin would no longer be visible,and that even its whiskers and "sunspots" would be less noticeable in the fore-shortened view. The white underside of the body and the white insides of the limbs heavily striped with black, are naturally not seen when the animal is in cover or crouching.

    The other greater cats have no harlequin masks. The lion and the puma, the leopard and the jaguar, have less conspicuously white chins and whiskers and hardly any "sunspots". But if you wish to know how truly obliterative a tiger's seemingly vivid colouring is you have only to go to one of these modern zoos where they have a large open air enclosure, planted with tall grass and bushes and insulated by a deep moat into which they let out lions and tigers (sometime by turns). You will then see that in cover the seemingly dull, whole coloured tawny coat of the lion is much more readily seen than the striped coat of the tiger.

    Another conspicuous feature of the tiger's pelage is the light coloured spots, almost white, at the back of each ear heavily rimmed with black. Many other animals of the cat family also have such ear-spots, but in none of them are they as flagrant as in the tiger. Even in the tiger, it is only when the animal is seen from behind or partly from behind, that the ear spots are so conspicuous. Why should there be any need for a tiger to be visible from behind?

    The theory has been advanced that in the cats, the ear spots serve a function in aggressive displays, that the ears are turned around so far that their backs become visible from the front when the animal is threatening a possible adversary. With specific reference to the tiger, this theory may be discounted. At no time have I seen a wild or captive tiger (and some of the fresh-caught ones I have seen have been singularly savage and prone to aggressive displays) turn its ear round in this manner.

    It is not necessary any longer in modern scientific natural history, to prove a function or to attribute a specific function for every morphological peculiarity noticed.

    It could be that the remarkably flagrant ear spots of the tiger serve no purpose, but probably they do serve an important purpose, in enabling other tigers to follow a leading tiger when no communication by voice or displayed attitude is possible."

    - M. Krishnan

    # This was published on 16 May 1971.
    @ The photograph of a tiger cub in the forest with white spots at the back of the ears has not been reproduced here.

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 12 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 12 guests)

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •