Indian palm squirrel (Funambulus palmarum) is known for the distinctive three stripes across its back, much similar to that in Chipmunks, a smaller variety of squirrels seen in N. America. There is a legend related to the stripes seen on this squirrel. Though it is a well-known legend in India, here it is in brief. According to this Mythological legend, the squirrel helped Lord Rama to collect sand and build bridge to reach Lanka, the Kingdom of Ravana, where Sita was in captivity. Lord Rama stroked squirrel’s back to show his appreciation and three stripes, marks of his fingers, appeared on its back. I have two more posts on Indian palm squirrel. Please check out here- Post1Post2. This adorable critter decided to have lunch on my backyard wall. Looked like the rice I had placed was tasty. Observe the expressions!
I have two butterflies here. They look similar due to the wing designs, but are different. Maybe, we can say they are related as both belong to the same family, Nymphalidae. The one with white markings on brown is Common sailor butterfly (Neptis hylas). This is a common species seen in Indian subcontinent. Here you can see the butterfly feeding on sandalwood flowers, on a tree behind my house.
Butterfly with orange markings is Common lascar butterfly (Pantoporia hordonia). It’s distribution in India is from the Himalayas to the Western Ghats. The adults would typically open their wings fully when perching. This is captured from my backyard.
My second post on Spotted Beauty- Asian Koel female. Please check out the first post HERE. Asian koels, members of the Cuckoo family, are frequent visitors. After quenching thirst on my terrace, they forage in the vegetable garden for ripe tomatoes also!
This beauty had a drink. Then she flew on to a tree nearby, which had Tinospora vine climbing on it. The ripe berries were a definite attraction. She might have had her fill and then flew away. I could capture a few pictures of her in sequence.
Though very attractive, she has a not -so-desirable character of laying eggs in the nests of other birds especially crows, where the foster parent nurtures the young ones till they begin to fly.
Black kite? A friend in my garden…? Yes…a kind of! They hover above my house, make nests and brood on tall trees in the neighbouring property and then many times rest on my parapet or in the garden.
Black kite (Milvus migrans) is a fairly large bird, larger than a crow. They have a majestic stance and shrill call with whinnying. The brown plumage is beautiful, which is similar in male and female birds. Black kites are widely distributed around the globe. They are seen in large numbers near human dwellings in India and avoid wilderness.
Here you can see the bird resting on my parapet, with keen observant eyes. Suddenly it is alert and flies down to the ground to snatch a dead rat from the crows. Though I have the pictures of the scenes, I am restricting to the kite alone. Once the meal is done, it is ready to fly away!
These pictures are of the same bird, taken sequentially.
This young Praying Mantis moulted (molted) in my garden!
He didn’t like my intrusion into his privacy, while changing his coat. Keeping his gaze fixed on me, he tried to move away as fast as he could. I followed him and got a few of his pictures 🙂
As you know, the Praying mantis (Mantis religiosa) is thus named because of the way it holds its front two legs, looking like they are in a praying position. They are predators; have triangular heads propped up on a long “neck”. They use their front legs to snare their prey. Moths, crickets, grasshoppers, flies, and other insects are usually the unfortunate victims that fall prey to them.
The female of the species is notorious, which sometimes eats her mate just after mating.
Praying Mantis are very well camouflaged and often mistaken for leaves or tree branches.
My Second post on Greater Coucal or Crow Pheasant (Centropus sinensis). These regular visitors to my garden are not much scared of my presence, as the pictures show.
Greater Coucals are as big as a crow, with reddish brown wings and unmissable red eyes. They are found in wide range of habitats from jungle to urban gardens and are residents of Indian subcontinent. These birds forage on the ground or among the foliage for insects, lizards etc.
During breeding season, they appear in pairs. Greater coucal has a deep resonant “khoomp-khoomp-khoomp…” sound. In the early mornings I can hear a pair calling out, one responding to the other.
The deep calls are associated with superstitious beliefs of spirits and ill omens, though irrational! In my State the sight of this bird is considered as a good omen!!
Blue Mormon butterfly (Papilio polymnestor) belongs to the group of Swallowtail butterflies and is endemic to South India and Sri Lanka. They are fairly large and seen throughout the year.
I have seen the butterfly attracted to Ixora and Pagoda flowers in my garden for feeding, as is evident in these pictures. Hibiscus and Jasmine also are preferred food source. But the host plant for the larvae is Citrus plant.
The life cycle is similar to other swallowtails, with the caterpillar passing through five instars before the metamorphosis. If interested, you can view my posts on Common Mormon and Lime butterfly to see some stages of life cycle.
Blue Mormon is the State butterfly of the Indian state of Maharashtra.
It’s the life of a Lime butterfly (Papilio demoleus)….the cycle that is completed in my garden. I could get all stages but eggs.
The common names, Lime butterfly or Lemon butterfly, refer to their host plants, which are usually citrus species such as the cultivated lime.
The caterpillars are voracious eaters and pass through five instars (stages) before pupating. My citrus plant was pretty much ravaged by them. Here I am presenting only two stages.
After the last stage, the caterpillar stays immobile and secretes a liquid to form the pupal case that hangs from the stem of the plant with a silky thread or girdle. The butterfly emerges after nine days from the pupa.
This is my third post of Dragonflies. I have two types of dragonflies here, from my garden! Friends? Oh yes…they are predators of other flies that are pests.
The common picture wing (Rhyothemis variegata) or variegated flutterer, is a species of dragonfly with colorful wings tinted with pale yellow. There are a few black spots and patches, which are more pronounced in females than in males. These are called as “Onathumpi”, in my native language.
Orange-winged dropwing, alias Scarlet rock glider (Trithemis kirbyi) is a scarlet dragonfly with a broad reddish amber patch on the base of transparent wings. The females differ being duller.
Most probably these dragonflies are visitors to my garden, knowing their natural habitats which are wetlands.
What’s that…feathers sticking to a flower?!! Do not get fooled, that is a bug from my garden…the bagworm.
Bagworms are a type of small moths belonging to Psychidae. Larvae form characteristic silken cases covered with bits of leaves, twigs, and other debris. Here she is more concerned about the beauty of her case, hence decoration with soft feathers! 🙂
These moths pupate in the larval case after it is attached to a substratum. In most species, the female does not leave the case, as it lacks wings and has only rudimentary parts. The male bagworm emerges as a freely flying moth.
The adult’s life span is too short. Males live for only 2-3 days. Females lay eggs in the larval case itself and die. Once the eggs hatch, larvae crawl out to form their own cases.