Thursday, October 4, 2007
The Valley School
Today we visited the Valley School in Southwest Bangalore. There is extensive jungle and nice paths. Nice and quiet. We started off seeing an Oriental skylark but my eyes fell to a wonderful flower of touch-me-not. I used to get this plant as a boy from circuses. You touch the leaf and the plant folds! Here I was in south India and the plant carpeted the ground.
We signed in at the gate and immediately were struck by the large number of 5-6 foot high termite hills, some right next to school buildings. I do not think many Americans would tolerate nature so close at hand. Birds were everywhere and I started seeing new birds such as the Coppersmith barbet and the Black drongo.
My guide Dr. Kumar Ghorpade, an expert taxonomist of syrphid flies, was delighted with the number at hand and started flailing about with his net. After ducking into the jungle for a bit he called me over to see the most outrageous spider I had ever seen, the Wood spider, which was the size of an adult man's hand!
The weather today was much improved over yesterday which was far too hot for me. There was a light breeze and some clouds kept the sun off my burned face. I was thrilled to see Green Bee Eaters actually eating bees. While I was photographing an amazing little bird called the Purple-rumped sun-bird, a man showed up on a motor scooter. He beamed a great smile and took my hand and started speaking in the native Karnada. I shrugged and spoke in english, neither one of us caring that all was gibberish, both smiling and shaking our heads. Finally, Kumar came over and translated. I was introduced as an american and the Indians' smile got even bigger as he shook my hand again. He apparently though I was merely an alien not his favorite foreigner. He told us that an elephant had crashed through a granite and barbed wire fence the night before and was somewhere around. Whoa!