Wild flowers and more...

Written By Amol Kokane on Thursday, September 5, 2019 | 4:25 PM

It was an eventful month of August this year. The month started with heavy rains in Pune region (in fact, it rained heavily everywhere in western Maharashtra). Due to the record-breaking rain fall, it would have been too adventurous (rather dangerous) to travel during the first half of the month.

As the rain settled down by the end of 2nd week, I decided to grab the opportunity and managed to do series of monsoon trips, visiting different locations around Pune like Bopdev Ghat, Saswad, Sinhgad Fort, Bhimashankar, Vetal Tekdi, Mulshi. To add to the list I also visited Mangaon (in Raigad district) to capture glimpses of a very special bird.

The primary focus for all the trips (except the last one) was to do mainly macro photography and that too to capture wild flora.

As a result of all these trips, I managed to capture good shots of some orchids like, Long-tailed Habenaria, Spreading-flowered Habenaria and a rarity in Western Ghats, Veined Thunia.

Long-tailed Habenaria (Habenaria lonigcorniculata) @ Bopdev ghat

Spreading-flowered Habenaria (Habenaria rariflora) @ Sinhgad

Veined Thunia (Thunia alba var. bracteata) @ Bhimashankar

More interestingly, with the help my dear friend, Mayuresh Kulkarni, I managed to increase my Ceropegia tally to 8 by adding 3 new species to the list. The species that I saw this year was Sahyadri Ceropegia, Hairy Ceropegia and Bulbous Ceropegia.

Sahyadri Ceropegia (Ceropegia sahyadrica) @ Sinhgad

Hairy Ceropegia (Ceropegia hirsuta) @ Vetal Tekdi

Top view of C. hirsuta @ Vetal Tekdi

I had no trouble in spotting C. sahyadrica and C. hirsuta but C. bulbosa gave me a hard time to locate as they are very tiny.

Bulbous Ceropegia (Ceropegia bulbosa) @ Vetal Tekdi

In addition to above list, following are some of other wild flowers that I captured,

Scaped Sonerila (Sonerial scapigera) @ Sinhgad

Velvety Beauty Berry (Callicarpa tomentosa) @ Bhimashankar

Malabar Sesame (Sesamum malabaricum) @ Bhimashankar

Justicia sp. @ Mangaon

Rubber vine (Cryptostegia grandiflora) @ Saswad

During my trip to Bhimashankar, I was lucky to see a fungus named Bamboo fungus. The fungus gets its name as it grows near bamboo forests. It has a bell-shaped cap on a stalk and a delicate lacy "skirt" like structure that hangs from beneath the cap. They are short-lived, typically lasting no more than a few days.

Bamboo fungus (Phallus indusiatus) @ Bhimashankar

Since the focus was primarily on macro, besides wild flowers, I managed to get some good shots of butterflies and other insects too.

Some kind of Weevil insect @ Sinhgad

Common Hedgeblue butterfly @ Bhimashankar

Bright Babul Blue butterfly @ Vetal Tekdi

White Orange Tip butterfly @ Saswad (PC: Sachin Pawar)

Female Joker butterfly (Upperwing) @ Saswad

Female Joker butterfly (Underwing) @ Saswad

Pale Blue Pansy butterfly (Upperwing) @ Saswad

Pale Blue Pansy butterfly (Underwing) @ Saswad

Then came an invitation from my friend Sachin Pawar to visit Mangaon to capture glimpses of Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher. Though it wasn't a lifer for me, I just could not resist myself and went on to visit Mangaon to see this bird.

Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher with cricket kill @ Mangaon

We started from Pune early in the morning at 5 with overcast weather conditions. By the time we reached Mangaon, it was pouring in. We decided to wait for some time to see if rain gives us a break. Luckily, after an hour or so, patience paid off. We observed this bird at the location for more than 3 hours and saw this bird bringing in variety of food for its young ones, including lizard, skink, frog, crabs and crickets. Really an amazing bird it is and a treat to eyes...!

Thanks to Sachin Pawar for capturing and sharing ODKF's photos with different kills. While waiting for this elusive bird, few others also showed up like Black-naped Monarch and Emerald Dove.

Record shot of Emerald Dove @ Mangaon

Black-naped Monarch incubating eggs at nest @ Mangaon

Back to flora again. On our way back from Mangaon captured few more wild flowers on a nearby plateau.

Muskmelon (Cucumis melo) @ Mangaon

Little Persian Violet (Exacum pumilum) @ Mangaon

Panicled Dewflower (Murdannia semiteres) @ Mangaon

Forest Bitterberry (Solanum anguivi) @ Mangaon

To end the month on successful note, I planned a trek to Sinhgad with kids. I wanted to show them some Ceropegia species. It was cloudy when we started to climb up the fort from Atakarwadi. By the time we reached half-way through it started raining. We continued to climb up in the hope that rain will stop with a short-spanned shower. But it wasn't the case, it just continued to pour in. I could show them flowers like Balsam and Karvi but I could not take photos due to the rain.

From the photography stand-point, it wasn't an end that I was expecting from an eventful month. But nevertheless, kids enjoyed soaking in rain & the trek thoroughly, so father is happy!

I have some more trips planned in September and hopeful that September proves to be even better than August! Let's see...

About Amol Kokane