Friday, November 7, 2014

Adventure is not in anything, its in Everything we do

A Day in Life, worth Living for Adventure...

     Me, my two friends Jairaj and Vijay Kumar, planned a trip to Dandeli for some weekend adventure. It was a hot beginning of winter in Mangalore and we really wanted to take a break from all the heat and tiredness of Mangalore. We had indeed planned well, many days in advance for this vacation and we were expecting it again in our lives.  Adventure gives us so much of energy, that we feel like living the rest of the life in the arms of Adventure. So long as it gives us energy, inspiration and motivation in life, we continue to live with Adventure, untill we breathe our last.

    The Day came, we started at 3:30am in the morning on 25th October 2014, just because our check-in time was 12pm in the afternoon. We did reach before hand, at 11:00am in Dandeli, welcomed by wonderful roads all through the trip and the lush greenery of Dandeli, the winter setting in there, all for the good. We did experience rains during our trip, quite continuously. But first, we managed to proceed towards the Sykes Point, Dandeli, the Sunset Point of Dandeli standing at 1557 feet above sea level, where we get the Breath-taking view of the valley, the deep waters of Kali river which is black in color. It was misty there as you can see from the picture below. We were welcomed by Mist, Freshness of Environment and it was a God's Gift to the people who want to spend weekends in such amazing way. Four images below were taken from Sykes Point, using my Samsung Galaxy Note 2..


Vijay Kumar, Jairaj Jogi, my friends who wanted a Weekend Adventure, and its interesting to see the Excitement in them

I am excited too... 
     We enjoyed the evening of Water Rafting, River Jacuzi and some boating against the tides of Kali Waters, which were quite challenging tasks, as the climate was cool due to rains, and it gave us all the energy to paddle the boat against the tides, and we did it..!!!

     Thereafter, we proceeded to Supa Dam and then we went towards the backwaters of Supa Dam, a picturesque habitat of nature. Here are a few pictures from the backwaters on our way back, as we hadn't carried our cameras and phones due to water sport activity during the evenings. 

Adventure is not in anything, its in Everything we do.. !!!

    We checked out of our Homestay, Kali Adventures, Dandeli at 10:00am, we went through the Karwar route from Dandeli as we wanted to enjoy some landscapes while on our way back. Though we were first time visitors, Google Maps helped us all the way from Mangalore to Dandeli and also on our way back to Mangalore via Karwar.. We came through these places, which can be seen below:-

Wildlife Crossing time, so brake for them.. 

     Then, we reached this small hut, called as the Home of Forest Herbs, and is named as "Kaadu Mane". It was quite dark inside, but it was actually a store of Forest Herbs, and all items made out of Tree roots, and most of them were of high medicinal properties and completely natural. Here's a Glimpse of the Kaadu Mane, near Joida, Dandeli..

     We later proceeded towards Anshi National Park area, and on our way near the National Park, we did hear pretty loudly an Owl's call 5-6 times, and later found the call to be Brown Hawk Owl's call. Then after scanning around the forests, we proceeded further as the call stopped for a long time. Later we ended up in a Picturesque scenario of Nigundi Falls, which comes in the vicinity of Anshi Tiger Reserve, Dandeli. 

Nigundi Falls, from the Panoramic Watch Point..

     Later we moved on to Karwar for lunch, the Amruth Hotel which served us some fish and sea food delicacies which were mouth watering at the time of Hunger in the afternoon.. On our way back we did spend some time here and there taking pictures in spectacular landscapes on the way. No worries, the highways were at their amazing state and we never felt tired in our entire journey. 

Karwar Beach area

Eastern Landscape from Ankola Bridge

Western Landscape from Ankola Bridge

Scenic landscape near Kundapur, which would enthrall any nature lover for its amazing sunsets..
     We would proudly say, we never had a trip of this kind in life, and will always want to go around and experience life this way. Life always inspires us to go ahead, and many a times it shows us to live life with Adventure.. Thats why I and we firmly believe, 
"Adventure is not in anything, its in Everything we do.."

Friday, November 29, 2013

Green-Blue Leaf Hopper


     Leafhopper is a common name applied to any species from the family Cicadellidae. These minute insects, colloquially known as hoppers, are plant feeders that suck plant sap from grass, shrubs, or trees. Their hind legs are modified for jumping, and are covered with hairs that facilitate the spreading of a secretion over their bodies that acts as a water repellent and carrier of pheromones.They undergo an incomplete metamorphosis, and have various host associations, varying from very generalized to very specific. Some species have a cosmopolitan distribution, or occur throughout the temperate and tropical regions. Some are pests or vectors of plant viruses and phytoplasmas.  The family is distributed all over the world, and constitutes the second-largest hemipteran family, with at least 20,000 described species.They belong to a lineage traditionally treated as infraorder Cicadomorpha in the suborder Auchenorrhyncha, but as the latter taxon is probably not monophyletic, many modern authors prefer to abolish the Auchenorrhyncha and elevate the cicadomorphs to a suborder Clypeorrhyncha. Members of the tribe Proconiini of the subfamily Cicadellinae are commonly known as sharpshooters.

     The Cicadellidae combine the following features:
  • The thickened part of the antennae is very short and ends with a bristle (arista).
  • Two ocelli (simple eyes) are present on the top or front of the head.
  • The tarsi are made of three segments.
  • The femora are at front with, at most, weak spines.
  • The hind tibiae have one or more distinct keels, with a row of movable spines on each, sometimes on enlarged bases.
  • The base of the middle legs is close together where they originate under the thorax.
  • The front wings not particularly thickened.
An additional and unique character of leafhoppers is the production of brochosomes, which are thought to protect the animals, and particularly their egg clutches, from predation and pathogens.

Behavior, feeding and habitat

     Like other Exopterygota, the leafhoppers undergo direct development from nymph to adult without a pupal stage. While many leafhoppers are drab little insects as is typical for the Membracoidea, the adults and nymphs of some species are quite colorful. Some – in particularStegelytrinae – have largely translucent wings and resemble flies at a casual glance.Leafhoppers have piercing-sucking mouthparts, enabling them to feed on plant sap. A leafhoppers' diet commonly consists of sap from a wide and diverse range of plants, but some are more host-specific. Leafhoppers mainly are herbivores, but some are known to eat smaller insects, such as aphids, on occasion. A few species are known to be mud-puddling, but as it seems, females rarely engage in such behavior. Leafhoppers can transmit plant pathogens, such as virusesphytoplasmas and bacteria. Cicadellidae species that are significant agricultural pests include the beet leafhopper (Circulifer tenellus), potato leafhopper (Empoasca fabae), two-spotted leafhopper (Sophonia rufofascia), glassy-winged sharpshooter (Homalodisca vitripennis), the common brown leafhopper (Orosius orientalis), the maize streak virus vector Cicadulina mbila, and the white apple leafhopper (Typhlocyba pomaria). The beet leafhopper (Circulifer tenellus) can transmit the beet curly top virus to various members of the nightshade family, including tobacco, tomato, or eggplant, and is a serious vector of the disease in chili pepper in the Southwestern United States.

     In some cases, the plant pathogens distributed by leafhoppers are also pathogens of the insects themselves, and can replicate within the leafhoppers' salivary glands. Leafhoppers are also susceptible to various insect pathogens, including Dicistroviridae viruses, bacteria and fungi; numerous parasitoids attack the eggs and the adults provide food for smallinsectivores.

    Leafhoppers are very tiny, as you can see them commonly on some leaves, as tiny as a grain of rice. I have used a Canon EF 50mm f1.8 II Lens with a 12mm extension tube for taking the 2nd image. For all other images, I have used 36mm extension tube with the lens on Canon EOS 7D SLR camera body. Amazing creatures these are, who teach us enormous breath control techniques to get a glimpse of their tiny and beautiful colored body. I controlled breath in between these captures for a duration of 20 seconds each. Tough job, but an amazing learning experience controlling my breath, which helps me control my mind very well. I did use a pop-up flash of my Canon EOS 7D, with a custom made tissue paper flash diffuser to soften the light coming out of the flash.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Pelagic Birding at Malpe

       It was a Great Morning, I was curiously waiting for the wake up time. I woke up at 4:50am, got fresh with a hot bath, had a light breakfast of sandwich and carried my gears and started walking my way to my Bus stop. My friends Kartik Bhat, Rupesh, Chinmayi picked me from Hosabettu at 5:25am and we proceeded our way to Padubidri to pick Prashanth and from there we moved on to Malpe to meet our Pelagic Birding event organized by Shiva Shankar and Ramdasa Bhat from Tebma Shipyard Malpe, with a hired open boat. We met everyone there, boarded the boat and the first photograph of the adventurous Pelagic Birding Team of Coastal Karnataka Birdwatchers Network was taken around 7:45am when our boat ventured into the sea.
From L-R: Srikanth, Chinmayi, Raviprakash, Damodar, Mulagala Srinivas, Savitha Ravi, Prashanth Poojary, Sudhir Naik, Ramdas Bhat, Shanmukharaj, Shiva Shankar, Kartik Bhat, me, Rupesh, Mohit was the man behind the camera, so he's not in the frame..
     Amazing day begun cloudy, as most of them predicted rains that day, but mother nature didn't like us getting wet, so she spared us all with overcast sky and it was this moment we were near the Kaup Lighthouse, just outside the breakwaters of Tebma Shipyard, when I captured this scenario. The boat we were in was just the same as the one that can be seen in the picture below.

      We proceeded further into the sea and reached the area of St.Mary's Island, where there were rocks on the sea, which were great perch for raptors and terns, and we indeed spotted the Brahminy Kite sitting on one of the rocks alone, waiting for fishing his prey from the air, as there were loads of Greater Crested Terns, which amounted to around 100+ on the sky, some of them came close to our boat and gave some of us a bath with their droppings like Stealth bombers bombing an enemy boat. That was a welcome by nature to the deep sea, which was a bumpy ride, all till the middle of the sea, where we had ventured almost 20+ kms into the sea from the coast.A small portion of the Rocky St.Mary's Island is shown below.

     As we proceeded further deep into the sea, it started getting sunny and very harsh sunlight, rougher sea, made some of us dizzy, as it was most of our first venture into the sea and untill we venture once our bodies don't adjust to the sea well. I missed the Flesh footed sheerwaters which was spotted by Prashanth, as I and 4-5 of us were feeling dizzy during that moment. With my Canon EF 300mm F4L IS USM + Tamron 1.4x Teleconverter in hand on my Canon EOS 7D SLR, it was pretty difficult to stand straight in the tossing and wobbling boat. Composition was nowhere possible in any of the pictures in the middle sea, as it was next to impossible to even stand straight. However, the beams of the boat gave us a good support to mount our Camera's for any action on the mid-sea. Luckily, we did see a lot of actions, not even us, the birds like Bridled Terns which we observed in the mid-sea were finding it difficult to perch easily and there were some floating wooden planks and thermocol pieces in the sea which gave them a perch to rest for sometime, as can be seen from pictures below:-

      Adding to that, we even saw an Arctic Skua chasing these terns for preying on them, however the terns managed to speed away from the Skua and I got this picture of Bridled Tern, when it was running for its life.

    Following the observations of Bridled Terns, we ventured much towards the North area of the coast where we observed many Arctic Skua's nicely perched like ducks on the sea, luckily they never preferred any support for perch as the Tern's did. Skua's were bigger birds than the Terns and were very fierce in their nature. The mid-sea was terrifically rough, with huge waves battering our boat, but the Arctic Skua's enjoyed the waves hopping and diving along the waves, which was another nice thing we observed. Its shown below.

EXIF: Aperture f5.6, Shutter speed 1/1600, ISO:320, Hand-held leaning on the boat's cockpit

     As I said earlier, its pretty difficult to stand and most of the images which I deleted didn't have any birds, they either had the wave of the sea or the beam of the boat, due to the roughness of the sea. Initially I learnt how to photograph the Greater Crested Tern's from wobbly boat while commencing our Pelagic Journey, that helped me to apply the same strategy to mid-sea photography of these Skua's and Terns. We got a Skua, pretty close-by at one moment and it was an action-packed moment, when all our gadgets sprung on to action with the fastest burst of images. Mine was a Canon EOS 7D, with 8fps, however there were faster ones like Canon EOS 1D Mark-iv of Shiva and Savitha, which were pacing close to 12fps and most of these camera features helped us in capturing actions right perfectly, some of the Skua flight patterns are shown in the pictures below:-

EXIF: Aperture f5.6, Shutter speed 1/1600, ISO:320, Hand-held standing still with great difficulty

     The last image above was taken when the Skua took a round of our boat and came in front of us again, after duly inspecting us. After all the fun mid-sea, we chose to return late afternoon, as we had gone too far from the coast and we had to reach the Malpe coast back by evening, before dark. It was another amazing time as we were welcomed near St.Mary's Island by Pallas Gulls, Heughlin's Gulls, Greater Crested and Lesser Crested Terns, which was a mesmerizing moment of our tired journey, coming back from mid-sea. Here are few of the pictures taken while approaching the Tern Island near St.Mary's Island.Terns can be easily spotted by their Boomerang wing design while flight and are very fast while their flight, like most sea birds.

EXIF: Aperture f5.6, Shutter speed 1/1600, ISO:320, Hand-held 

EXIF: Aperture f5.6, Shutter speed 1/2000, ISO:320, Hand-held 
     Heughlin's Gulls are huge and they almost resemble a Dinosaur in flight, their flight patterns are slightly slower as they take time to wave their huge wings, and they almost reach the size of Brahminy Kites. The interesting thing we observed was the Brahminy Kites were flying very much close to our boat near St.Mary's Island area and we utilized this moment to the max in getting good frames, like the ones below:-

EXIF: Aperture f5.6, Shutter speed 1/2000, ISO:320, Hand-held 

EXIF: Aperture f5.6, Shutter speed 1/1250, ISO:320, Hand-held 

     There were colorful boats, filled with people visiting St.Mary's Island frequently and the Tourism was on full swing there. We saw a speed boat, rushing past us from a distance, wherein people enjoyed the speedy ride of the speed boat, which was also a part of St.Mary's Islands Tourist attraction, as shown below:-

     The Pelagic Birding concluded for the day at Malpe, at around 5:30pm, when we were back to the Tebma shipyard safely. I am extremely thankful to Shiva Shankar, Ramdasa Bhat and others who organized this amazing and adventurous day in mid-sea, watching migrant birds all our way. It is another milestone in my life, which I would happily write in my blog, and it would make me remember this day always, throughout my life.