When we think of Kerala, the first image that comes to our mind is the beautiful greenery of the State! This place is located around the west-flowing Chalakudy River of Kerala in the verdant Vazhachal Forest of Western Ghats. It is just 5 km from entrance of Athirappilly Falls. Although this spot is called Vazhachal Falls, it is not a waterfall in the true sense. The falls at Vazhachal are more of a continuous series of massive rapids present throughout the entire stretch of the river at Vazhachal. The river tumbles over huge boulders and rocks down a slope at this spot thus creating a profusion of foam and a waterfall-like impact. The unspoilt forest region provides a tranquil getaway from a busy city life!!
I was mentioning about patterns in nature earlier. Patterns in nature are visible regularities of form found in the natural world. Have you ever thought about why nature likes to arrange itself in patterns? Nothing in nature happens without a reason. All these patterns have an important reason to exist. The pattern arrangements increase efficiency- efficient utilization space available and efficient functioning. They are beautiful to watch also! Check out examples of some of these patterns the next time you go for a walk and you may be able to spot a few. Could you make out the patterns given here?
When we see a flower, what is the first thing we notice? Its size… its shape… its fragrance, or perhaps… its colour! A flower’s colour is one of the many factors that makes nature so beautiful. Here are the pictures of a few pink flowers that I captured at various times. Various folk cultures and traditions had given symbolic meanings to flowers and their colours. According to flower symbolism pink flowers combine innocence, playfulness and sensitivity. For some, pink flowers are the most romantic colour. Pink flowers have been traditionally associated with femininity and hence represent grace and gentility.
We have heard about the ‘afterglow’ very often. The afterglow is an intense red or golden glow of the western atmosphere long after sunset, when most twilight colors might have disappeared. I was curious to know about the glow seen in the eastern sky after sunset and got this information that I am sharing here, along with my photographs. This glow is ‘Alpenglow’! During sunset on clear evenings, the atmosphere around the horizon opposite of the Sun appears as shades of orange and pink. The pink color is due to the sunlight that is shining through denser atmosphere near Earth’s western horizon, and reflecting off the atmosphere on eastern side. This reflection back towards the observer is called backscattering. It creates a pink and orangish stretch near the eastern horizon. The same light is often seen on mountain tops at sunset and hence the term ‘Alpenglow’.
Spotted doves (Spilopelia chinensis) are elegant visitors to my terrace. They are friendly, still very watchful of my movements. They visit in pairs to have a drink or two in the birdbath provided.
It is very comforting to watch these birds. They wait on the trellis in my terrace garden, watch the other birds that make a racket at the birdbath and fly down when the din subsides and other birds fly away. They are well mannered, adding to their elegance. Never rush or chase other birds…but, wait for their turn patiently to quench their thirst! These are pictures captured on my terrace.
Spotted dove is also called the mountain dove, pearl-necked dove and lace-necked dove. These are common residents across the Indian subcontinent and in Southeast Asia. They are very common in urban areas, foraging on the ground for grass seeds, grains, fallen fruits and seeds of other plants.
Yosemite (yo-SE-mea-tea) National Park is best known for its towering granite monoliths, deep valleys, waterfalls and ancient giant sequoias. The day I entered Yosemite it started snowing, that season’s first snowing. Looked like the visit was badly timed… but there was no option. For a person from the opposite part of the world this was an exciting experience! 😊 Couldn’t view the iconic monoliths. Managed a few shots of the landscape covered with the first snow of the season. It looked beautiful!! The first picture was captured just before snowing and then the spectacle unfolded!! The road was intermittently cleared by the agencies concerned.
Succulents are plants with adaptations to thrive in arid conditions. They have swollen and fleshy leaves. Most of the succulents show very interesting patterns in the arrangement of leaves or spines on their fleshy stem. Many times, leaves are arranged in a rosette pattern, giving the plant a floral appearance. Aeonium, the tree houseleeks, have leaves typically arranged in rosettes around central axis at the end of stems. Sempervivum, the houseleeks, are succulent perennials forming mats composed of tufted leaves in rosettes. With its pinkish-grey succulent leaves in rosette form, Mother-of-pearl-plant (Graptopetalum paraguayense) is also called ‘Porcelain plant’. All the three plants belong to the family Crassulaceae.
Cosmos plants are cousins of daisy and marigold, and belong to the huge Asteraceae family. These attractive flowers bring an explosion of colours to the garden landscape with white, red, yellow, orange, pink and various shades of these colours. Cosmos are annual flowers that are borne by long slender stalks. Blooming throughout the summer, they attract birds, bees and butterflies to the garden. Cosmos are easily grown from seeds and even survive in poor soil conditions. Though these are mainly grown as ornamental plants, traditionally they were used in indigenous medicines and certain culinary preparations. Cosmos flowers also yield dyes. Cosmos flowers are said to symbolize order and harmony, due to the flower’s harmonious petals. The flower is also viewed as symbolizing tranquility, peace, innocence and love.
Sunsets are romantic! Whether you are a nature lover or a technocrat, the beauty of sunsets is undeniable. I’m sure there is no one who hasn’t said “wow” after watching the glorious sundown. The magical view of the setting sun and changing colours of the sky never get old! Here is a series of sunset pictures captured at Santa Cruz, California. Watched the sunset along with roosting pelicans and cormorants. I was surprised to notice a peculiar feature- after the initial stages, there was no golden reflection on the water!! I have no explanation…
When we think of friends in our garden, Potter wasp is not likely to be on the list. However, potter wasps are beneficial insects that provide natural control of many types of caterpillars that are pests of our vegetable garden. The name ‘potter wasp’ derives from the shape of the mud nests built by the female to lay eggs and these nests are known as brood nests. These are built in a variety of places, like on tree trunks and twigs as well as exterior surfaces of buildings. The nest interestingly looks like a miniature pot or jug, complete with cover when it is sealed! The female wasp hunts caterpillars, stores them in the nest after paralyzing them by her sting. The developing wasp larva feeds on these caterpillars and comes out as an adult. I found this lovely potter wasp (Phimenes flavopictus) hovering in my garden, feeding on Leucas aspera (Thumba) flowers and then having a drink in the birdbath. You can see the nest that is built on a plant twig. The seal of the nest has two tiny holes to let in air for the larva inside!