Sunday, February 24, 2013

Biodiversity at its best: My Neighbours

Living at the edge of a forest that has taken approx. 30 yrs to regrow by itself from a barren land to a forest thriving with life and providing a unique habitat for a diverse kinds of living organisms. By the way the forest I am talking about lies just at the foothills of the famous Panchgani tableland. 

It has been one year and four months of an amazing experience living at the edge of a living forest with creatures that are so incredible and beautiful to watch. Though not a wildlife expert at documenting the rich biodiversity that this small patch of forest holds, I have made a humble attempt to note down things that I have been seeing every day since my stay at Panchgani. Experiencing the entire weather of the year out here and noticing certain organisms being found only in a particular month or season and then not to see the same insects or birds in the rest of the months is so intriguing and leaves me with big questions like - WHY & HOW? With the help field guides like Birds of the Indian Subcontinent (Richard Grimmett et al), the book of Indian animals (Prater), Snakes of India: The field Guide (Romulus Whitaker & Ashok Captain) and many online resources; like this one was really helpful - a good tool for identification of birds.

Below is the list of diverse fauna from insects, mammals, amphibians, reptiles to birds; documented from October 2011 until the date of this post and the list is growing even though I post this exhaustive list now. I  hope this list is helpful to appreciate and accept that we are not alone and we share our surrounding with some of the most beautiful creatures that are so essential for the functioning of the ecosystem. Our approach so far in management of our environment or its resources like forest or water have always been anthropocentric forgetting we also need this creatures to complete what we call our Earth - a Home for all. This list will remind us to share our resources with creatures that too have important role in the environment just like we think 'we do'.

Avifauna: (104 Birds)
Red-whiskered Bulbul (emeria)
Red-vented Bulbul (humayuni)
Square-tailed Bulbul (Hypsipetes (leucocephalus) ganeesa)
Great Tit (Parus major)
Indian Yellow Tit (Parus (xanthogenys) aplonotus)
Brown-headed Barbet (caniceps)
Coppersmith Barbet
Jungle Bush Quail
Common Quail
Red Spurfowl
Rose-ringed Parakeet
Small Minivet (malabaricus, cinnamomeus)
Orange Minivet (Pericrocotus flammeus)
Black Drongo
White-bellied Drongo (leucopygialis?)
Indian Peafowl
Asian Paradise-flycatcher
Red-breasted Flycatcher/ Red-throated Flycatcher
White-spotted Fantail
White-browed Fantail
Indian Nightjar
Indian Scimitar Babbler (horsfieldii)
Tawny-bellied Babbler (hyperythra)
Jungle Babbler
Malabar Lark
Pied Bushchat
Oriental White-eye
Common tailor bird
Pale bellied flowerpecker
Purple-rumped Sunbird
Purple Sunbird
Vigor’s Sunbird
Loten’s Sunbird
Black-winged Kite/ Black-shouldered Kite
Black Kite
Crested Serpent Eagle
Laggar Falcon
Oriental Magpie Robin
Indian Robin (fulicatus)
Common Pigeon
Spotted Dove
Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus)
Laughing Dove
Asian Koel
Southern Coucal
Indian Scops Owl
Red Rumped Swallow
Wire-tailed Swallow
Dusky Crag Martin
Jungle Myna (fuscus)
Common Myna
Greenish Warbler
Blyth’s Reed Warbler
Indian Jungle Crow
House Crow
Grey-breasted Prinia (hodgsonii)
Indian Grey hornbill
White-throated Kingfisher
Malabar Whistling Thrush
Rufous Treepie
Green Bee-eater
Long-tailed Shrike
White-browed wagtail
Scaly-breasted Munia (Lonchura punctulata)
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)
Common Woodshrike
Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
Indian Pond Heron (Ardeola bacchus)
Cattle Egret (Bubulus ibis)
Baya Weaver (Ploceus philippinus)
Indian Blackbird (Tardus nigropileus)
Black hooded Oriole (Oriolus xanthornus)
Crested Bunting
Red-wattled Lapwing
Green Warbler [Phylloscopus( trochiloides) nitidus]
Indian Bushlark
Yellow crowned Woodpecker
Indian Golden Oriole
Orange-headed Thrush (cyanotus)
Indian Blackbird (Tardus merula nigropileus)
Yellow Wagtail
Yellow-eyed Babbler (Chrysomma sinense)
Tytler’s Leaf Warbler
Black Eagle (Ictinaetus malayensis)
Grey Wagtail
Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)
Ashy Drongo (Dicrurus leucophaeus)
Western Crowned Warbler (Phylloscopus occipitalis)
Ultramarine Flycatcher
Verditer Flycatcher
Black-headed Ibis (Threskiornis melanocephalus)
Tawny Eagle (Aquila rapax)
Southern Grey Shrike (Lanius meridionalis)
Greater Short-toed Lark
Shaheen Falcon
Yellow-footed Green Pigeon
Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus)
Crested Hawk Eagle (Nisaetus cirrhatus)
Common Hawk Cuckoo (Hierococcyx varius)
White-cheeked Barbet (Megalaima viridis)
Common Iora
Brown Shrike (Lanius cristatus)
Indian Roller (Coracias benghalensis)
Oriental Skylark (Alauda gulgula)

Phipsons Shield Tail
Spotted yellow Wolf Snake
Common Krait
Indian Cobra
Travancore Wolf Snake
Rat Snake
Montane Trinket Snake
Large-scaled Sheildtail
Beddome’s Cat Snake
Mahabaleshwar Shield tail
Indian Rock Python (This one I should mention, that I saw this swallowing a Red-vented Bulbul whole. Though caught it on my mobile camera but didn't come out so clear)
Green Keelback
Elliot’s Sheildtail

Geckos (Deccan Banded Gecko)
Monitor Lizard
Garden Lizard

Indian Chevrotain/ Mouse-Deer
Bonnet Macaque
Common Langur (Presbytis entellus)
Common Mongoose
Wild Pigs
Indian Porcupine (Hystrix indica)
Indian Field Mouse
Indian mole rat
Three striped Palm Squirrel (Funambulus palmarum)
Indian Pangolin (Manis crassicaudata)

Glow worms
Dragon fly
Garden Spider
Wolf Spider
Dung beetle
Rhinoceros Beetle
Shovel-headed Beetle
Diving Beetle

The photos below will give you a small view into the list I am talking about. Had I had my own camera, I would have posted more photos. Well, special thanks to my workplace and others for providing me with the photos. 

I will be glad if anyone can identify this snake. Looks to me a cobra with the spectacle-mark on its back but this one was quite different then the other snakes that i have seen so far (some say it is a Rat snake). It lie dead on one of the road sides inside the campus in the night (Photo credit: Aparna Shrivastava)
The Rhinoceros Beetle
The Shovel Beetle (P.S This and the picture above belong to the same family but have different tools on their head)
The shiny insect (anyone to name it differently or give me its scientific name, please feel free)
Butterfly caterpillar (Photo Credit: Rachel Jacobson)
This hairy worm is seen only in winter from Dec to Jan (Slugs in the monsoon, this hairy worm in winter and now what I see around is a worms with black hair, quite amazing different timings for these worms to make their short lived dominion known)
Giant centipede (out hunting in the night)
Bee's nest (honeycomb) on an Eucalyptus tree
Phipson's Shieldtail (this guy didn't like that I took it on a stick)
Phipson's Shieldtail (Uropeltis phipsonii) -  the moment I left it on the ground it started digging to move down the ground 
Travancore Wolf Snake
Orange Minivet Female (Pericrocotus flammeus). (Photo Credit: Anandi Gandhi)
Orange Minivet - Male (Pericrocotus flammeus). These birds are seen in groups of 4 to 5 in the morning and esp in the evening (Photo Credit: Anandi Gandhi)
Garden lizard giving the right pose in front of the camera
Red-breasted Flycatcher

The majestic Asian Paradise Flycatcher and my favorite bird.
Red Whiskered Bulbul
Scary spider (I must mention here that there are so many different spiders out here and  new spiders seen every week.  I would suggest someone comes out here and does a proper research on spiders -  a good place to identify new one and document them)
White-cheeked Barbet (This guy crashed on to my window,  tried to put on water to revive his strength but ended up hitting another window when it tried to fly and then finally took off).  
I call it a Showel worm (It is interesting to note out here is that worms and insects that i have noticed have interesting tools on their head to dig through the ground. If some one knows a better name please let me know)
Anyone to give name to this  interesting creature. Found laid under soil rich with moisture and other small insects (Coin is for scale)
Black Moth 1
Moth 2 (Night time is the time of the moths)
Deccan Banded Gecko seen on one of my night treks
Praying mantis
Cat-legged spider (two of its leg not in place)
Was almost 2 meters long with its head into the cement bags, didn't want to disturb it so was not able to see its head. But it is a Rat snake
Common Krait on the table land on one of my night treks
Black-shouldered Kite
Indian roller (Photo Credit: Aparna Shrivastava)
Green Bee-eater (Photo Credit: Rachel Jacobson)
Pretty looking Butterfly
Two Common Langur (Presbytis entellusstaring at  me when taking their photo.
Two cricket's sitting on a tree branch, was not that easy to spot them especially their body completely blending with the colour of the branch. I was able to spot them by fine tuning my ear to their sound.
White-throated Kingfisher (Photo Credit: Rachel Jacobson)
Quite common to see them early mornings and in the evening with their melodious sound - Pied Bushchat (Photo Credit: Rachel Jacobson)

Special thanks to Dr. Girish Jathar (Orinthologist) for going through the list and correcting some of my errors.


  1. hi,Reini--as you know am busy with kids boards--so could find time to read your blog now--[only mistake i could see was,you have written 'great tit' -twice.]The list is impressive--good work.--sangeeta maushi

  2. Thank you Sangeeta Maushi for noticing the erratum, have made the necessary changes. I am glad you enjoyed it and for the encouragement.