The early morning Kooo–ooooo Kooo–oooooo by the Asian Koel is now replaced by the repetitive cuc..koo from the Eurasian Cuckoo. Seasons they change and the calls from the birds change accordingly.
The transition for me has also begun. As the rains fall on the dry soil from winter, new foliage starts to spring out and the small world is back active as ever. Déjà vu. I’m back exploring the small world as the lockdown continued throughout May. Memories flood in from the 2020 lockdown.
The consistency in replicating last year’s activity has been thwarted by the distraction of clearing out the unwanted things that I was hoarding in the house. Nevertheless the little time I gave resulted in some good sightings.
The usual calls from the Blue-throated Barbets could be heard in the distance. Fortunately this time along with the calls, I was also able to see it up close as well when it decided to explore a hollowed-out bamboo pole. A favorite place among other birds including the Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker.
The usual calls from the Spotted Dove, Common Tailorbird would break the silence that has been created after the lockdown. Soft tsee… tsee calls in the early mornings by the White-eye evoked calmness. I was also hearing a bird call that I don’t recall hearing in this particular area.
The puzzled mind and the curiosity over a couple of weeks were solved when I witnessed a Crimson Sunbird flying past me as I explored the small world. Hopefully, June becomes the month where I can document this bird in this particular habitat.
Focusing back on the small world it was a good month of documenting species that I hadn’t previously photographed or seen. The insect world is massive so whenever exploring the wilderness there tends to be a new species for me to document and archive.
It had been a while since I had tried taking a proper photograph of a Sweat bee and this time I got to document two species. Not a perfect shot as I had expected but comparable to the ones I had taken last year.
Falling on the Halictidae family, they are a diverse group of metallic and non-metallic bees. These bees are important pollinators as well and can be found nesting on the ground. When it comes to pollination bees contribute significantly.
Wild bees are key contributors as they have a high species diversity and their unique way of helping in pollination. High diversity means that the preference in flowers (sometimes sole pollinator of certain flowers), weather, flight time, distance, foraging behavior, is also different therefore the importance of the wild bees increases in wilderness areas compared to Honey bees.
Spotting a big Weevil beetle on a dry branch of a plant was also the highlight of this month. Normally I tend to spot smaller Weevils but this one was almost three times the size. Weevils are known for their elongated snouts. I think June will be spent trying to identify which species this one belongs to.
Spotting Ladybugs also became a habit and I was able to photograph two species. With an average lifespan of two years in the wild, these beetles are well recognized by their colors and also by their depiction in the children’s books. These bugs help in protecting the crops by eating aphids and other plant-eating pests.
On the flip side, these bugs are preyed upon by birds, spiders, frogs, and other species of wildlife.
The importance of protecting nature and its habitats is highlighted above by how the food chain works. Assimilating the vast knowledge of how an insect world functions leads to the conversation about the conservation of the small world. They wear the hat of being the key pollinators, a key food source for many species, soil engineers, among many other crucial roles.
As mentioned in the beginning, May has been all about staying at home and observing the biodiversity around me. Even though a small list due to time constraints, the following are the species I was able to observe or document.
With the current lockdown in place due to the massive spread of the COVID-19 virus, staying in the house helps a lot in curbing the spread. A lot of pain and suffering is going around Nepal and it certainly hits home when the news of the people you know have suffered or passed away.
I have been limiting my movements since last year as the only other person home with me is my mother. Please do get yourself vaccinated. I might sound like a hypocrite with me missing my first dose but in my defense, the massive unmanaged crowd with hours of staying in line with minimal social distancing in the vaccine centers held me back.
With more proper crowd management now as seen in the distribution of the second dose, I will get my first dose as soon as the notice comes.
In these troubling times, the health security of your loved ones is in your hands as well so hoping everyone follows the government’s directives. Mindfulness is the key. Wishing everyone a healthy and safe month ahead. Please take care of yourself and your loved ones.
Ajay Narsingh Rana
In May I was able to publish an article about nature in Nepali Times. The photographs and the story might interest you.