This gorgeous butterfly was sitting on a ‘Kardi-Patta’ shrub, bang in front of our project-office, for almost two days continuously!
The insect is about the size of two human palms spread out side-by-side!
Common Name: Blue Mormon
Local Name: ?
Scientific Name: Papilio polymnestor (cramer) PAPILIONIDAE
Size: Wingspan 120-150mm
Distribution: India, Sri lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Myanmar
Habitat: Common in heavily forested regions, except in the driest lowland habitats
Field Characteristics: A ‘tailless’ butterfly of the “ Swallowtail” group, with head, thorax and abdomen uniformly blackish brown. Its wings are coloured in bright, variegated dark to light blue – with white ‘hatch-marks’ running down the lower half and protruding into a ‘fan-like’ white projection with blue spots. There are a pair of elongated red spots near the ‘shoulder’.
This is the second largest butterfly of India, after the Southern Birdwing, and they are mostly endemic to south India.
Can be easily identified by its swift, dipping flight and the broad, pale blue patch in the HW.
Unlike other swallowtails, it comes readily to foul substances, especially towards droppings of otter in the forests.
Male often found drinking on wet mud or sand at the commencement of the monsoon.
At rest, keeps the wings horizontally.
Special Features: Feeds mostly on plants of the Rutceae (commonly known as the rue or citrus) family, especially Pomelo, Malay Clycosmis, India Atalantia, Wild Orange, Garcinia, Paramigyna monophylla etc.
Iora: the master builder – and its nest!
If you look carefully, you can see how she has used cobwebs to tie the nest together.
The chicks are about two days old.
Common Name: ‘Common Iora’
Local Name: (Bengali) ‘Photik-jol ’/ ‘Ishti-kutum ’
Scientific Name: Aegithina tiphia
Size: Sparrow (+/-)
Habitat: Open forests, cultivation & scrub-jungles
Field Characteristics: Small, yellow & green bird with black & white markings on wings.
Special Features: Has an array of melodious calls.
Munias: One of the prettiest group of birds around!
There are about eight species of birds under the group called ‘Munias’. We have at least four of those present in the vicinity.
Here you see the two more common types – Spotted Munia (Lonchura punctulata) & Black-headed Munia (Lonchura malacca malacca).
Common Name: Spotted Munia & Black-Headed Munia
Local Name: (Bengali) ‘Munia’
Scientific Name: (Spotted Munia) Lonchura punctulata & (Black-Headed Munia) Lonchura malacca malacca
Size: Sparrow (+/-)
Habitat: Open forests, cultivation, scrub-jungles, swampy grasslands
Field Characteristics: Gregarious, arboreal birds living in groups. Closely related to Sparrows and Finches. Main food sources are seeds and grains.
The more common of the two species of Sunbirds that abound in the region.
The other one is called the Purple Sunbird and even though it’s female is almost identical to this one, the male has a starling blue-black colouration that glistens with sunlight showing rainbow hues.
Common Name: Purple-Rumped Sunbird
Local Name: (Bengali) ‘Moutushi’
Scientific Name: Nectarinia zeylonica
Size: Sparrow (-)
Distribution: South Bengal, Bangladesh, peninsular India, Srilanka.
Habitat: Open forests, dry cultivation, scrub-jungles, gardens & light secondary jungles.
Field Characteristics: Small, active and arboreal ‘flower-birds’. Sexes dimorphic (un-alike); the males are usually glistening metallic in colour while the females are dull and unimpressive. Bill long, slender and curved, for sucking nectar our of flowers.
One of the common babblers, found all over the country.
We also see the other common variety, the Common Babbler (Tardoides caudatus) from time to time.
Common Name: Jungle Babbler
Local Name: (Bengali) ‘Chhatarey’
Scientific Name: Turdoides striatus
Size: Myna (+)
Habitat: Deciduous and open forests, cultivation, bamboo & scrub-jungles.
Field Characteristics: Dull, earth-coloured bird with strong but slender yellow bill.
Lives in groups of 5 to 12. That is why they are colloquial known as the “Seven-Sisters”
They stay close to the ground, hunting for insects among fallen leaves, intermittently uttering a typical ‘chk—chk‘ chuckling call.
They have a weak flight and are generally terrestrial.
Paddyfield Pipit (?)
Indian Tree Pipit
A group of sparrow-like birds found abundantly in the country-side: their sub-species’ are generally difficult to distinguish with certainty on field observation.
Other common varieties found in the plains of India are the Olive-backed Pipit (Anthus hodgsoni), Indian Tree Pipit (Anthus trivialis) & Tawny Pipit (Anthus campestris).
Common Name: Paddy-field Pipit
Local Name: (Bengali) ‘Maatth-Chordai’
Scientific Name: Anthus rufulus
Size: Sparow (+)
Habitat: Light forests, cultivation, grassy slopes, stubble fields & scrub-jungles.
Field Characteristics: Slender-bodied terrestrial birds with chiefly brown/ buff plumage and black/ dark brown markings.
Bill slender and pointed.
Tail longish, constantly wagging vertically.
Food, mainly insects and small animals living on the ground or in the grass.
Indian Flapshell Turtle
A small turtle that was quite common in this area, but is fast depleting in numbers!
Common Name: Indian Flapshell Turtle
Local Name: (Bengali) ‘Kochchhop’
Scientific Name: Lissemys punctata
Size: Length=16 to 27 c.m. – Width=14 to 25 c.m. – (females larger)
Distribution: Pakistan, India (Sikkim), Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh (Indus and Gangetic drainage), Burma (Irrawaddy and Salween rivers). Introduced to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Habitat: Village ponds and small rivers, near human habitation.
Field Characteristics: This is one of the more common Indian turtles. It is omnivorous, living on aquatic vegetation as well as small fish, frogs, snails etc.
A sub-adult we caught near one of our staff residences and released into the adjoining forests.
Local Santalis (tribes) had told us stories about pythons that they had seen in the jungles – but we never really believed them – till this one ventured right into the project!
This specimen was probably half-matured – though it was almost 3 mts. long, the girth at the middle was about 0.7 mts.
Common Name: Indian Python/ Indian Rock Python
Local Name: (Bengali) ‘Ojogor/ Moyaal’
Scientific Name: Python molurus molurus
Size: The average length in the wild is 2.7–3.3 metres (8.9–11 ft) – and they probably have the maximum relative girth, exceeding that of all other snakes.
The longest scientifically recorded specimen hailed from Pakistan and was 4.6 metres
(15 ft) in length and weighing 52 kilograms (115 lb).
In captivity, a pet snake from Cooch Behar, West Bengal, was allegedly found to have grown to a massive 5.85 m (19 ft 2 in)!
Distribution: Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, southern Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and probably in the north of Myanmar.
Habitat: Occurs in a wide range of habitats, including grasslands, swamps, marshes, rocky foothills, woodlands, “open” jungle and river valleys. They depend on a permanent source of water. Sometimes they can be found in abandoned mammal burrows, hollow trees, dense water reeds and mangrove thickets.
Field Characteristics: This is a non-venomous snake. It is brown above, with rhomboid dark grey-edged spots on the body. There is a lance-shaped brown mark on the head and tapering pink-brown stripes at the sides of the head, extending beyond the eyes.
Special Features: This snake belongs to the ‘constrictor’ group – they catch and overpower their prey by wrapping powerful coils of its body around the victim and crushing its bones.
If disturbed, the snake can hiss loudly.
This is one of the more uncommon birds around.
Common Name: Stone chat / Collared Bush Chat
Local Name: (?)
Scientific Name: Saxicola torquata
Size: Sparrow (-)
Distribution: Subcontinent, except extreme southern peninsula & Srilanka.
Habitat: Dry, scrubby hillsides, wastelands, scrub-jungles, fallow fields, tamarisk jungles.
Field Characteristics: Small, active and arboreal bird. Sexes dimorphic (un-alike); the males have a dark brown head and neck during summer, with whitish underparts and brown to grey-brown above. The breast is a striking orange. In winter the colouration changes and the black of the head and orange flush on the breast becomes duller. Females are dull and unimpressive in comparison. Bill short, slender and slightly curved.