Monday, October 26, 2009

Every little flying thing

My garden is resonating to the beat of a zillion little wings.
The October heat is still here but the hint of cooler times to come is also zinging up the air. The slightest of nips in the morning make it a joy to wake up early. Luxuriating in the coolness also means butterfly season in Mumbai. For not only do we get the usual flutter-bugs like the Common Crow above, but a whole swarm of them seem to be riding the cool winds and have reached here just in time.

By the way, have you noticed what a rich dark-chocolate and cream can do for you? Especially when it's teamed with black and white polka dots?

I suspect the hornets have a lot to do with this sudden appearance of so many of the winged kind in my garden. Remember them and their annual tea-party? Well, they've started preparing for this year's bash.
So far only the Common Evening Browns have shown up. They're all over the Pink Cassia tree. Them, and about a million flies.

And, of course, the Common Baron.

The Thunbergia grandiflora has been seeing a lot of activity too. I saw this gold-specked bee getting very possessive about them and decided to leave it to him. Cowardly of me, I know, but that stinger obviously means business!

The Common Wanderer wisely decided to stay with the flowers. I love the way these very common-place Vincas are the biggest magnets for so many butterflies.

And high up in the teak tree, this parrot kept a good watch over everything that was going on and kept shouting down advice and instructions.

The dragonflies are all over the place too. Some like this Blue Percher seem to prefer perching on low-growing weeds and I don't notice them until they fly up from almost underfoot.

This Wandering Glider (or Globe Skimmer) was a beauty, though. It was perched on a Dendrobium orchid spike and was so comfortable that I could walk all around, taking photos and he still didn't budge.
I liked this photo because it shows up his shimmery wings so well.
And the back of his head. Have you ever really noticed a dragonfly's neck before?

Something else that I noticed ... the rippling effect on the Common Evening Brown's wing. Brown is not exactly my favourite colour but on this butterfly, it looks like crushed raw silk, doesn't it?

The damselflies came out to play too. I was a bit taken aback when this Coromandel Marsh Dart jumped out to shout "Boo!"

They followed me to my apartment too. Amazing! My apartment building is on a very busy road and I was surprised to find that all that dust and traffic and noise haven't put them off.
I found this Blue Grass Dartlet trying to find a perch on a wall. I love that colour!

I didn't find out who was responsible for this half-eaten bird's-eye chilli, though. I suspect the bulbuls , but going by the pungency levels of these chillies, the culprit may have just hit the stratosphere by now!

(Amila, thanks for helping me out with the names of the dragonflies)


  1. You really have a lot of interesting inhabitats in your garden, Sunita! Lovely pics. That first dragonfly looks like a female/juv male, Blue Percher Diplacodes trivialis and that second one is the famous Wandering Glider aka.Globe Skimmer Pantala flavescens - the world's most widely distributed dragonfly - probably the only dragonfly India shares with England and America!!

  2. Once again, thanks for putting names to all these beauties. While my sunbird never returned, we are surrounded by dragonflies ad butterflies aplenty.

  3. oh wow!! Sunita!! Such a lovely post and such great captures.. I like your visitors!

  4. Amila, thanks for those names and the info. I've edited my post to add them.
    Unfortunately most of the dragonflies refused to settle down and pose for my camera. Don't they ever get tired?

    Wordjunkie, don't worry, once the sunbirds have discovered you they'll keep coming back. Maybe you could bribe them a bit with some nectar-plants. I know for a fact that they're mad about Thunbergia flowers. Or even the ubiquitous hibiscus.
    I keep telling myself that I must make a trip to the National Park sometime soon. I'd love to see the butterflies and dragonflies there now.

  5. Thanks, Patricia. This has to be the best season for watching butterflies and dragonflies and every little flying thing :)

  6. Oh, beautiful photos. Those dragonflies have my attention. I do love their gauzy wings. And, no, I had never noticed their necks before. Thank you. Your parrot-advisor is a great addition to the garden soundscape that I imagine.

  7. Beautiful Sunita, you are so clever with the camera, love the Wandering Glider photo.
    Lovely post, as always/ LOLove Tyra

  8. You have captured some amazingly detailed pictures. The dragonflies are harder, at least butterflies will rest if it is cooler, and soak up the sunshine.

  9. Its been a long long time since I saw a real damselfly. They are my favourites. Yours are very colourful and pretty.

  10. They always do that don't they, Stephanie? They're so pretty that one can't help but look at the dragonflies.
    As for the parrot, I suspect there is a nest nearby. The whole day is punctuated with "skraak .... skreeek .... skrrrraaaaaak". The whole day! Someone has to tell them them that they're one talkative bird !

  11. Thanks, Tyra. Did you read Amila's (Gallicissa) comment about the Wandering Glider? That's so interesting, isn't it? A truly global dragonfly!

    Hi Elephant's Eye! Just one problem ... when its cold enough for the butterflies to rest, its too cold for my tropical blood and I dive under the quilt myself :P

    I agree, Autumn Belle. Damselflies are special! They're so tiny and delicate that they make even dragonflies look clumsy. I think it's this post-monsoon season which is bringing out so many of them.

  12. Sunita, I don't believe all this is happening in a city! Remarkable.

    You are so good with the camera, and what patience you must have to follow these little critters!

  13. "crushed silk" - lovely description!

    Yes, the butterflies and dragonflies are everywhere!

  14. Nice collection! Fewer and fewer things are flying around my garden these days, though I don't miss the mosquitoes. Next summer I should go out looking for dragonflies. They look like they'd be as enjoyable to "hunt" as birds!

  15. I just love your blue dragon fly Sunita, I have never seen one. You have a butterfly habitat in your city garden. Here too it is still hot but the early mornings have a coolness that reminds me of Christmas weather. Even the trade winds are picking up now. Hoping that the October heat breaks soon.

  16. So typically Mumbai, isn't it, Raji? There's always more going on here than meets the eye :)
    Patience? I think the butterflies have learnt a few cuss words by now! :D

    Hi Flowergirl! Is it the same in Chennai too? Which butterflies are you seeing there now?

  17. Hi Shady C! Unfortunately the mosquitos are out in full force now in my garden. I cant wait for the really cool weather in December-January to drive them away.
    As for dragonflies, yes, they're definitely worth stalking with a camera. If nothing, at least for the comical faces that they pull!

    Helen, our weather does seem to mirror each other, doesn't it?
    There's something so special about the blues, isn't there? I'm waiting for the Blue Oakleaf butterflies to show up anyday now. They're amazing!

  18. A wonderful post teeming with many winged visitors; and like you so well describe them they all come in their glad wraps, the crushed silk one looks really fine and elegant. The nibbled chilly is transformed into a sculpture!
    Enchanting post.

  19. Trudi, they do seem to be dressed for the occasion, don't they? The Common Evening Brown has to be one of the most difficult butterflies to photograph. All that rippling effect on its wings seem to make every attempt look blurred as if my hand had shook while clicking.
    The bird's eye chilli is very popular with the bulbuls which is surprising considering how very pungent they are. The birds don't seem to like the less spicy chillies in my garden quite as much. I wonder why ...

  20. Hallo Sunita
    Ich liebe Deine Fotos!!!
    Sieh bitte auf mein Blog, da ist der Kreativ-Blogger-Award für Dich von mir.

    liebe Grüße Dörte

  21. Gostei muito do seu blog ,tem boas informações e lindas fotos ,gostaria de saber se queres trocar trocar orquideas e sementes de flores comigo , vivo no nordeste do brasil . o meu email é .

  22. Thank you so much, Dorte :)
    I'm honoured that you think my blog is worthy of the award. I'm heading over to your blog now.

    Hello, Sannayk! Thanks, I'm glad you liked it. Brazil? Wow! That's one place I'd love to visit sometime. I'll mail you, okay?

  23. Sunita - Such beautiful butterflies you have in your garden, and lovely images of them that you have captured.

  24. What an experience! I had no idea those vincas (the purple flowers) attracted butterflies!

    I wish I which flowers would attract- Loten's Sunbird or Long Billed Sunbird - a lovely bird that used to frequent my garden but I haven't sighted it for a while :(

    You are so lucky to have so much of nature around you!

  25. Thanks, Karen :)

    Vincas are butterfly magnets. So are lantanas. Isn't it amazing that 2 flowers which are so common-place as to be almost overlooked in our tropical gardens are such favourites with the butterflies. Even stranger is the fact that I have some hybrid varieties of Vinca growing very close to these ordinary pink-purple ones and the butterflies totally ignore them!
    You want sunbirds? Grow a Thunbergia grandiflora (commonly known as Bengal Clock vine or Blue Sky Vine)I have one which is rambling all over a fence and the place is alive with sunbirds!

  26. It's wonderful to see the same butterflies (which come here) in a different setting. But not the blue damsel. That colour is stunning!! Great pics...and so beautifully captured!

  27. Kanak, that's exactly what I feel when I drop by your blog and see so many familiar creatures there. A feeling of home away from home :)
    You're right, the Blue Grass Dartlet is the most stunning blue you can hope to see in Nature.

  28. Hi Sunita! What jewels you attract in your garden... your words and photos are lovely and together weave a heart warming post. Thank you! Carol

  29. Carol, thank you for those lovely words :)
    October and November are butterfly season in Mumbai. There's a lot of migration going on from the colder mountain ranges towards the plains and Mumbai, on the coast, benefits from all that activity. And yes, they truly are the jewels of my garden.


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