Sunday, October 30, 2011

Rush hour in the garden

October is a busy month in my garden. No, not for me. I just flop around on my verandah or under the cashew trees, moaning about the killing heat in Mumbai. But the little creatures that also call my garden "home" are busier than ever. They are everywhere that I look, doing their own thing and generally making my garden look like it is abuzz with activity. Sooner them than me!

For starters, the dragonflies are all over the place. Zipping and swirling around, sometimes solo but usually in a cloud. I love dragonflies! Seeing them in action makes me an ultra-happy person because they hunt mosquitoes.
Did I mention that all the foliage in my garden seems to attract every single mosquito for miles around?The garden of Eden had a snake to harass the residents, mine has mosquitoes. Which also means that it has some very happy dragonflies.

I love this extremely vibrant Dawn Dropwing dragonfly who put an old orchid bloom spike to good use. He kept perching on it, sticking his bright tail up in the air and fanning his wings open in a display that kept veiling and unveiling his fuchsia-purple body. The poor guy was obelisking to beat the heat!
To read more about this gorgeous dragonfly, check this out.

The damselflies are out too, even in my apartment garden. They're such delicate little wisps that one usually doesn't notice them until they rise up out of some plant that they were perched on. But don't let their size (or lack of it) fool you. They are just as efficient at hunting out mosquitoes, flies and insect pests. I've seen one gobbling up a beetle which looked much too large to fit into the damselfly's tummy!

Then there are the butterflies .... Oh my God! the butterflies! They're everywhere. Flitting, floating, frolicking ... I love this season for the butterflies . My Vinca rosea patch is seeing rush hour throughout the day.
By the way, did you notice the little damselfly watching the Common Wanderer butterfly? That's the same little guy in the second photo. He was almost glued to the spot for hours.

You would think that with a name like Grass Demon this butterfly would be huge and scary. But no, he's really quite small. What really is larger than life is that proboscis of his!

'Huge and scary' should probably go to describe the Giant Redeye butterfly! This butterfly feeding on the Spiderlilies isn't very big, but take a look at its big ruby-red eyes! How beautifully weird is that?

If you're looking for unconventional beauties, here's one for your list. The Buff Striped Keelback is quite a small, thin snake and is absolutely harmless. Every so often I find one zipping across my yard, hoping that no one will notice him. This one was racing across the roasting sunny areas and heading for the cool shade of the heliconias. Hopefully, he was after some garden pests but more probably, he had his eye on the little frogs which like to hang out there too.

He has no idea just how lucky he is to miss being spotted by our resident Pariah Kite!
The Pariah Kites are nesting again on the coconut tree and keep a strict watch on everything that is going on. This one swooped down for a quick sip and dip in the bird-bath. And of course, some crows landed up immediately too. Just to keep an eye on him, you know.

October is also the month when the migratory birds start trooping in. I found this Hoopoe scanning some of the overgrown grass ( a last remnant of the monsoon super-growth). A crow swooped by near him and up went his startled crest. Such fun!
By the way, doesn't he look like the Creator drew some sample scribbles on his back while trying to design the Zebra?

The season is changing. It is still as hot as ever during the day but now there is a cool nip in the air at night and I love the transitions it brings. I love this season for the unusual birds that show up and also for some of the more unusual blooms. Even on the foliage plants, like this Phyllanthus myrtifolius which is widely grown as a hedge or for topiaries. It is not one of my most favourite plants but in October I seriously re-think that opinion. Because that's when it transforms into a blooming beauty!

57 comments:

  1. It really seems like the rush hour :D And for a change a beautiful one too.

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  2. So much activity in your garden. I love dragonflies too but it's butterflies I see in my garden. Stay cool tho the heat is there.

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  3. Marvelous post! With all that going on I don't see how you get anything done. Not sure I could. And, such beauty! We are swarmed by mosquitoes, too, and I have a great appreciation for, and enjoy seeing, the dragonflies. We have invasive Chinese honeysuckle shrubs that some people call mosquito bushes.

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  4. It's nice to think about a swap. I must say reading your blog and seeing your "hot" photographs warms me right up. It's so great to visit you on a day like today. Here the mosquitoes are gone,so are the dragonflies. My garden is definitely a cool place now. Didn't those blue white snow pictures cool you off if only for a minute?

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  5. I understand not loving oppressive heat and mosquitoes. We have plenty of both here in Austin from May through early October. But by now the days are quite lovely, nights are chilly, and...well, the mosquitoes are still biting, but two out of three ain't bad.

    You have lovely creatures in your garden -- birds, dragonflies, and even snakes.

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  6. Lovely post!! What a nice description for each and every guest who visits ur beautiful garden. Lovely images too.

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  7. Lucky you, Sunita.
    A double whammy of butterflies AND dragonflies ! Sadly these are both missing in Delhi except for the occasional stray one.
    Lovely post. Thank you.

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  8. Ha, ha...I love your post title. It really is appropriate with everything going on there. Such lovely photos too!

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  9. This is rush-hour garden-style, Mridula. I wish I could switch every time I get stuck in Mumbai's infamous road traffic!

    I'm trying, Keats. I don't do much in the garden during these hot days except to take photos. Which butterflies do you have now?

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  10. Thank you, Barbee :)
    You're right, I don't do much now (except click photos). It's way too hot to even think of doing anything :P
    Are the Chinese honeysuckle bushes any more attractive to mosquitoes than other plants? I think they just love any plant which creates a cool shaded space for them to hang out.

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  11. Oh yes, they did, Becky. Thank you! :D
    Visiting each other's blog is instant climate relief for us, isn't it?

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  12. Thank you, Pam. I think those are creatures are what make October in Mumbai slightly bearable. Or I would've just given up and melted into a gooey puddle on the verandah :)
    I had no idea our garden conditions were so similar. We still have some more weeks to wait for the days to become pleasant, though.

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  13. Thank you, Disha! So glad you enjoyed this post :)

    I'm really surprised at that, Usha. From what I've seen, Delhi has more green cover than Mumbai does. But I must admit that until I started blogging and clicking photos of my garden for my blog, a lot of these creatures went unnoticed by me too.
    Maybe you could grow some butterfly magnets? Lantana and Vinca rosea will bring them in everytime.

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  14. Thank you, Joyful! So glad you liked it :)

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  15. Lovely post. I see butterflies and dragonflies in my garden every now and then, but pass the time watching them. There is a big blue edged butterfly which comes regularly but never sits still for a picture. Maybe I need more flowering plants.

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  16. Fantastic as always, Sunita. I especially love the Kite and the Hoopoe. If I had that much traffic in my garden I'd spend every waking moment there.

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  17. Wow, you have a lot of wildlife activity going on in your garden! How fun :-) We had a program on dragonflies and damselflies at my last garden club meeting. It was so interesting. That Hoopoe bird is gorgeous. Looks like a roadrunner.
    Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment. I hope you visit again :-)

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  18. Hi Sunita. What beautiful prose to go with beautiful photos. I love your creatures all busy at play in your garden and that you're perfectly content on the veranda. :)

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  19. How I love to stroll through your posts. I feel like I've been on an exotic vacation. So many beautiful creatures our world has!

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  20. What a great haul, Sunita!
    The Dawn Dropwing is one of my favourite dragonflies. Nice to see you still using the name Pariah Kite for that bird! We used to call it such when we started birding, but then half way through were asked to call it Black Kite—when it is not even black. I will Pariah Kite much better!

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  21. Hi Sunita, i love this post, so much activity and so much fun. I love your photos and the mix you put in this post. How fun it is to describe the bird with zebra pattern, LOL. I suppose i must study the snakes which are poisonous versus those which are dangerous, because we have snakes too and my mother's instinct is to just kill every snake she sees around the house. Yours doesn't look friendly too, and i might as well kill it at instance! Lastly, thanks for identifying my last weed flower, i already put it there.

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  22. What a glorious rush hour!! Loved the dragonfly and the damselfly the most (didn't even know they had such a beautiful name). The Phyllanthus myrtifolius blooms are such a lovely red, loved this picture.

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  23. Sorry about the long delay in replying, everyone. I've been travelling and just couldn't connect to reply to all the comments here.

    Thank you, Chitra. If you could ID that butterfly you can plant some of the nectar plants that it likes. Surprisingly, a lot of common weeds also act as larval host plants so they help too.

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  24. Shady C, I love those birds too. And the Golden oriole, and the purple-rumped sunbirds and the bulbuls and the.... :D
    We do get a lot of birds in my garden now. You're invited to visit and birdwatch :)

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  25. Hi Toni. Yes, this is kind of peak time for the garden creatures here. Plus we get a lot of migratory birds and all the butterflies and dragonflies are very active now. Happy days! :)

    Hi Grace :)
    I was almost worried tha someone was going to say "what a lazy gardener!". But sometimes we have to sit back and enjoy the activity of others.

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  26. Thats exactly how I feel when I see all those lovely blogs from across the world, Amy. Amazing, isn't it, that we have so much variety in our world?

    Hi Amila! Its great seeing you here again :)
    I love that Dawn Dropwing dragonfly. I read about them on your blog (linked to it here, if you didn't notice)and I'm so kicked that I have them in my garden too.
    I don't think Black Kite is a very apt name for that bird. Can't see any black on him at all! So, yeah, I'm sticking with Pariah Kite.

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  27. Andrea, I can't really blame your mother. I think we've been conditioned to fear snakes since time immemorial. However, it really does help to read up about them and find out which are the venomous snakes in your area so you can be careful. Killing them only creates a gap in the food chain and in the ecosystem. They get rid of so many harmful pests for us (sorry, didn't mean to sound preachy!)
    The snake in this post is really small and harmless. It is not venomous at all.

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  28. Hey, thanks IHM :)
    Sometimes they do have lovely names, don't they? Sometimes, though, they pick real howlers :P
    I think up on many names only after I started blogging and paying more attention to so many nuances. Love the blogging life!

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  29. A very fine post, Sunita! I've never seen such a diversity in an urban garden in Mumbai! As for the Pectillis gigantea, I do have a photograph showing the entire plant. I could mail it to you. Regards.

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  30. Sunita; enjoyed the stories from your garden, dragonflies, butterflies with red eyes, snakes, birds, it is a veritable sanctuary.

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  31. Sorry IHM, I made a typo in my reply to you. What I meant was that I got clued in to many of these names only after I started blogging. Which is when I made some kind of an effort to look them up.

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  32. Thanks Ani. This post has just a few of the regulars in my garden. If you're interested in seeing some more of them,just check out the links under 'Garden Creature Fest' in the sidebar. They'll take you to some of my earlier posts featuring the creatures in my garden.

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  33. LOL! I know, Trudi. I should just stop farming and convert this place into a wildlife retreat.

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  34. Muito lindo tudo por aqui ! Parabéns e obrigado por nos permitir apreciá-los.
    Um grande abraço.
    maurício.

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  35. I had to rely on Google translate to know what this comment said. It was so worth it! Thank you, Mauricio :)

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  36. This is the kind of rush hour traffic I love and hate at the same time.

    Living in Southern California where the weather is relatively mild all year round critters of all kinds are perpetual visitors in my garden. Some like the butterflies, humming birds, dragon flies, lizards and most birds are always welcome. But then there are those which I’d rather not host — bees and wasps whose stings I’m allergic to, squirrels who destroy my fruits, rabbits who tear up my vegetable garden, opossums which are just plain mean and garden snakes which scare me to death.

    Oh well. I can’t do much about road traffic and there is also very little I can do about garden traffic.

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  37. What joy to have animals in your garden! Enjoyed reading your post thoroughly. I started gardening recently and I can only wish to have such lovely visitors. Here's how I got started: http://gardeningproject-deity.blogspot.com

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  38. I know what you mean, Hanna. We've just got to take the bad guys too I guess. We dont have opposums here so I'm a bit vague about them. Do they destroy your plants? Right now we have Greater Banded Hornets clustering around the Pink Cassia. They attract all the butterflies because of the tree sap that they drill into but they're dangerous too so I'm not very comfortable having them around.

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  39. Thanks, Deity. So glad you liked this post :)
    As you keep blogging and photographing for your blog I'm sure you'll find that you have many more creatures in your garden than you ever realised. Thats what happened to me, anyway.

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  40. Rush hour indeed :) Loved reading your post Sunita! Pics are fab too.. esp the dragonfly, damselfly ..and the startled Hoopoe :)
    Speaking of winter blooms.... i too have been wondering why i didnt notice them earlier, it was always about the spring/summer blooms. Phyllanthus myrtifolius is lovely :)

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  41. Thanks, Priya :)
    I think winter is the time when many of the more decorative plants start blooming. They dont have to deal with sizzling summer sun or the unending rains of the monsoon. Its also the time when I can get my fix for temperate-growing flowers.

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  42. Lovely photos! I would love to see your whole garden! Look forward to seeing more from you.

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  43. http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/7741396/5_gardening_blogs_you_should_read.html?cat=32

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  44. Thanks Robin :)
    I hope to see you here more often too. That way we'll at least get started on a virtual garden viewing first.
    My garden is never the same 2 seasons in a row. I'm always shifting things around, adding more stuff, taking out some ... fun!

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  45. That's your blog isn't it, Antigonum Cajan? Congrats!

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  46. Superb Post!I loved reading it a lot and loved the way you described your garden to us.I was feeling like seeing your garden in front of me.At my home I also like to see these rushes in my garden, seriously I can spend a lot of time there in my garden.

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  47. Woow! So many beautiful little critters! Nice to meet you Sunitha!

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  48. Thanks, Stevia Plants. I know exactly what you mean. Once I'm in my garden somehow everything else seems to take a back seat :)

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  49. Hi! I've been watching and hoping for a new post on your blog.I love visiting your garden. Also they are looking for posts From beautiful gardens with wildlife at beautifulwildlifegarden.com I consider yours to be one of the very best!

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  50. Hi Becky, there's a new post up finally. Sorry about the long silence but I get a bit overwhelmed with a whole lot of stuff. The funniest thing is that I've got all the photos ready for new posts but just haven't had the time to sit down and type out the text :P

    I know, Gauri, I know! :)

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  51. Becky, thanks or that link to beautifulwildlifegarden. It looks so interesting. And my favourite topic too :)

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  52. Oh what fun in your garden, Sunita! I can imagine living like a pixie amongst these plants and flowers with butterflies hovering around. Thanks for sharing the day!

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  53. It's my greatest stress-buster, Harini :)

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  54. A very interesting post. Your visitors are vying to call your garden their home too.

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  55. Thank you, Stiletto. My garden is always open-house to all my interesting visitors :)

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