Halfway through the year and the last three months was under lockdown which was eased and movement was allowed with limitations. With all those months under lockdown, the increase in positive virus cases has been climbing up now due to the inefficiency of the government which still lacks a proper plan with proper testings. With this happening it has created a dilemma in me regarding my movements as I don’t want to be careless with my outdoor activities because the only other member in the house is my mother. With this in mind, the month progressed with me going for a couple of nature walks and some short mountain bike rides.
Nature walks around Ichangu was the easiest choice due to its proximity and also a priority now to document the birds in the vicinity as the urban jungle slowly replaces the natural ones. June also became a month when I restarted my passion for video making. I created my first short nature series aptly titled “A Small World” as macro photography was what led me to what I do now. In the first part of the series, I featured spiders that I was able to document in a small patch of shrubs near where I live. Standing silently amongst the bushes and flowering plants scanning around the foliage for insects does help in knowing how lively the place is when compared to walking by tuned out of nature. I was able to document a jumping spider featured in the first part of the video for two days in the same locality and see it take shelter in a dead leaf roll. The moment when it came out of that leaf scanning around for prey and walking around was beautiful to see and document. It felt like I was filming a character following a script but this actor was nowhere to be found on the third day and thus my script for this character stayed incomplete. Documenting nature is difficult when you’re filming in your subject’s terms and conditions. This is how it’s supposed to be, should be and, how I like it to be. As I looked around the garden for other subjects I was surprised to find the variety of species of spiders in a small area. From Jumping spiders, Lynx spiders, Nursery Web Spider, Ant Mimic Spider, Orb Weaving Spider, to spiders I haven’t seen before was a good moment. Jumping spiders seemed to be the most photogenic among all the spiders. The other observation that I loved documenting was the making of a web by a tiny orb-weaving spider. The way it attached the tiny silk it produced to the web with its hind legs was fascinating. You can see this and other interesting observations in the nature series “ A Small World – Spiders”
Another obsession this month was to film the sweat bees, bumblebees and, carpenter bees in their natural habitat. The graceful approach the bees made to the flower stamen seemed to be a dance I loved seeing among various bees until I saw a Carpenter bee just doing a hard landing on the flower of a Melastome plant. The pollen transfer was also different among the types of bees as it depended on the hair in their body that would attract the pollen through electrostatic force. Hopefully, I can document all these behavior in the nature series I’m working on.
Birding in Ichangu for me turned out to be a macro session chasing insects while the birds were mocking me by flying around. I had read about how aggressive a Black Drongo can get to protect their nest and it was interesting to be able to see that behavior when a Black Drongo aggressively chased a Kite and other species of birds that came in proximity to its nesting area. There were a lot of flybys of birds like the Golden Oriole, Blue-throated Barbet, Blue Magpies, Grey treepie, from the vantage point I was staying but as I was on a macro photography setup the visual pleasure of enjoying the behavior and not document it became a priority.
Even though it was an interesting month divulging myself into the macro world, I did observe a lot of species of flora and fauna and documented some. The following are the species that I was able to see or document.
Grey Treepie, Ashy Drongo, Spotted Dove, White-throated Kingfisher, Black Drongo, Blue-throated Barbet, Black Kite, Eurasian Cuckoo, Verditer Flycatcher, Golden Oriole, Long-tailed Minivet, Red-vented Bulbul.
Ant Mantis, Common Five-ring Butterfly, Various Moths, Lynx Spider, Jumping Spider, Orb-weaving spiders, Nursery Web Spider, Praying Mantis, Weevil Beetles, Various Ants, Ladybird beetles, Robber flies, Assassin bug, Yellow Coster butterfly, Sweat bees, Carpenter Bees, Bumblebees, Honey bee, Blue-banded bee.
Melastome, Holy basil, Nepalese alder tree, Persian lilac tree (Bakena), Pink-Rain-Lily.
As the second half of the year starts I hope that the virus situation gets contained and the government shows more empathy and responsibility towards its citizens and focuses on health first. As work in the big world remains uncertain for me I will in the meantime try to divert more of my attention to the small world and share the moments with you.
Wishing everyone a productive month ahead, stay safe, maintain social distancing, wear a mask when going out. Do share your visual encounters and moments in nature with me through social media or email and do tell me if you want it to be put in the segment “What we saw”.
Ajay Narsingh Rana