The Advisory Boar
We bought dark kitchen towels to wipe our iron woks, which tend to leave
rust-coloured stains—at least temporarily. But Ammu got her hands on one
of them, and made it much too pretty to wipe anything with.
I remember, as a child, reading about the discovery of the
cave paintings in Altamira
by an eight-year-old, and her wonder at seeing bison and other animals
seeming to dance in the flickering light of her torch.
Despite my fascination with palaeolithic rock art, I had never seen any.
I had read about cave paintings at Lakhudiyar near Barechhina in Almora
district, the best-known of Uttarakhand's many such sites. It's not far
from where we live, but not close enough for a casual visit either. We
had an opportunity to stop for a few minutes on a recent drive past
It's not really a cave, just an overhanging rock face; and it's
a far cry from Altamira. In fact, it looks a little like it might have
been the work of a bored schoolboy waiting for a bus home. But there's
an ASI “protected heritage site” notice-board, so it must be legit…
Notice the obvious (and accurate) “hairpin bend” road sign in the centre
of the image. The paintings are a bit repetitive, and unfortunately the
ones closer to the ground are quite worn.
Here's a video that
shows more of the rock face,
and another that
shows the approach to Lakhudiyar.
Today I recorded a Yellow-bellied Prinia Prinia flaviventris
calling in the Typha reedbeds at Okhla Bird Sanctuary in New
Delhi. The bird was very close to me—though I could not see it in
the overgrown reeds—and one can hear its wing-snapping display in
the recording. The incessant drone of Cicadas provides a backdrop.
an MP3 file
(which I created using
Audacity), and here's an
old photo of the species, also from Okhla.
(There are much better
photographs on OBI.)
This is the first time I have used my new
recorder, and I am very impressed with the sound quality I obtained,
given my complete inexperience at nature sound recording. I used the
default 44.1KHz/16-bit settings, with the "low" mic sensitivity setting,
and a recording level of 10.
I am delighted to have been able to record one of my favourite singers
as my first subject. I've always tried and failed to describe the call
to people, but now I can let the bird speak for itself.
Last December, I went on a solo hike to Dayara Bugyal, an alpine meadow
in the Garhwal Himalayas, at an altitude of some 3000m above sea level.
In summer, it's a popular hiking destination, and shepherds bring their
flocks there to graze, but I had the place all to myself.
I had planned to spend the first night next to Barnala Tal, a small lake
just below the final ascent to Dayara. The instructions I got on how to
find the lake were typically vague, however, and I had still not reached
it by evening. I was tired, and decided to descend and camp next to the
only water I'd found seen so far: a shallow marsh, with stinking water
that turned out to be unsuitable even to filter.
As I pitched my tent, this buffalo skull was my only companion:
It was not until late the next morning that I found the lake, a mere
250m further than I'd ventured the previous day, hidden from me by a
shallow rise. There was a couple of centimetres of ice on the lake,
and I had to smash through it to fill my bottle.
Never has a drink of water been more welcome.
Baby squirrels looking adorably sinister as they take up positions
around a telephone pole:
Now, where can I find a
Here's a very distinctive-looking moth I photographed near Sat Tal lake
in Uttarakhand in September 2009.
I don't know what species it is.
Update (2010-05-10): My friend Swati tells me it's a
(which means I still don't know what species it is :-).
Update (2017-06-02): Seven years later, Sanjay Sondhi of
The Titli Trust identified my moth
at a glance as Cyana belissima. Thank you, Sanjay!
I was going through some old photographs, and I found the following one
from Hassath's and my first trip to Munsiari in December 2005.
It shows two public bathrooms, both visible from the main road leading
to Munsiari. The one on the left says "women", and the other one "men".
(With apologies to everyone who has seen this before.)