Tamil Nadu ebirders’ meet 2017 at YMCA, Yelagiri

This is my second visit for Tamil Nadu ebirders’ meet. The pleasant weather, 14 hairpin bends, view of the town from the bends gave delightful welcome. We six researchers from SACON had visited this event.

A bird’s eye view from a hair pin bend

TN ebirders meet banner


The two-days were packed with programs. Here are the glimpses of few among them. It is incredible work of Mr. Ganeshwar and other educators to reach out school children for awareness on birds through Sarva shiksha abhiyaan (SSA) workshops. Reaching out the budding children for caring nature is need of the hour.

Mr. Theodore Baskaran and Ms. Kirubhanandhini during the release of TN birds pocket guide (in Tamil)

Ms. Abhisheka’s bird sketching class gave insight about the basics of drawing a bird based on its position, head to body and tail proportion. Myself, Muhil and Niveditha attended this session and planned to get to know about the vulture conservation session (parallel session) through our friends Ramesh and Kirubha, as we doesn’t want to miss that either. After the sketching attempts, I peeped in the puppet session of Ms. Banumathi, where the participants were in merry making paper puppets and am sure they all would have went back in years and became kids. We also had amazing display of the puppets’ story depiction, the next day.

My drawing attempt – believe! It is Bronze-winged jacana

Muhil while drawing a bird







Though I have missed hearing the Scops Owl call during the night, I got a chance of hearing it the next day from Rajarajan’s mobile. The resonating hoot should have been a enthralling moment for the listeners the previous night. We could hear and spot around 20 species of birds during our birding trip on second day morning.

Mr. Bharathidasan’s talk on birding events on the path of Kannagi (கண்ணகியின் பாதையில் பொங்கல் பறவைகள் கணக்கெடுப்பு) is a brilliant mix of ancient Tamil history and modern birding. Ms. Priyadharshini took us into her Baya Weaver field spots through her talk on Baya Weaver population, ecology and her explanation in Tamil made it more intimate and delightful to my ears. Though I missed Mr. Siva’s talk on ‘Central Tamil Nadu Owls’, the in person conversation with him made me to understand the importance of Owls in controlling rat population in cultivation lands and Owls being an incomparable natural pest control.

TN ebirders meet 2017 group photo

It is indeed delicious food, food for thought and loads of information in the two day programme.


Visit to Cuckoo Forest School at Singarapettai

“Cuckoo Forest School – heaven in a humble abode”.

Cuckoo Forest School

The plan to visit the Cuckoo Forest School started when my friend Muhil told me about it in a brief chat and we both started surfing online to know more about the school and their contact details. The mission of the school is alternative education of teaching music, arts and sustainable living. I don’t know who coined the name ‘alternative education’ as I believe this is the fundamental education required for children. The vision and mission of the school captivated us and we decided to visit the school directly to know more about it. As we are attending Tamil Nadu ebirders’ meeting at Yelagiri, we wanted to extend our travel to foothills of Jawadu hills, where we found the bliss in simple life.

The Green Abode

Mr. Stalin, volunteer at Cuckoo Forest school made arrangements for our stay. We landed at Singarapettai around 7 pm on 22nd October 2017 and it took about 6km journey from the bus stop to the school. Surrounded with  the darkness, we found few kudils with light and bright and warm welcome from volunteers Mr. Muthu, Ms. Ponmani and Mr. Ramesh. Subramani anna welcomed us with the traditional snack foxtail millet balls – mix of foxtail millet granules and honey. When I held the ball in hand I went back in time to my Tamil classes, which resonated “தேனும், தினைமாவும் – குறிஞ்சி நிலத்தின் உணவுமுறை” (குறிஞ்சி – மலையும் , மலைசார்ந்த நிலமும்). Millet and honey – primary food of mountain dwellers as per Tamil Literature. When I swallowed it, I can’t see the mountains around as it was night, but imagined them all around. The millet ball was very tasty and my taste buds thanked anna.

Myself, Muhil and Niveditha with Cuckoo volunteer Ramesh

My friends and me were pouring questions to the volunteers Ponmani, Ramesh and Muthu out of curosity to know about the school, which they answered eloquently. They explained us the history of Cuckoo movement and interactions went till dinner time. My friends Suhirtha Muhil, Kirubha Nandhini, Ramesh, Niveditha and myself sat along with volunteers for dinner. We had delicious vendakka kuzhambu rice, curd rice and kaara boondi.

Roosting butterfly

After dinner, volunteer Ramesh explained the bamboo lamps, wall sculptures and we all enthralled on seeing the crafts that are made out of scraps obtained from forest – i.e. bamboo, leaves, mud and stones. The games pallankuzhi, aadu puliyaatam, chess which were engraved on the floor of the building never missed our attention. Everything fascinated us and the table – a huge tree trunk is one of my favourite. A big black scorpion paid a visit to welcome us. We made a brief butterfly roosting survey and found the hanging beauties – ‘Mottled Immigrants’ on nearby plants. After a short chatting about bird calls and tasty herbal tea, we all went to sleep.

Bamboo lamp

Welcome by scorpion

I am not sure whether sleeping in library make me wise. But, we slept in library. Unlike rooster in city, rooster here seems an early riser and started its alarm clock “Kokrak-ko-Ko” at 3 am. We all woke up around 5 am. After having tasty herbal tea made by Subramani anna, Kirubha has left our party sooner for her work and we four of us as planned during previous night, set a sail in forest for bird watching along with the volunteer Ramesh and the pet Jordan.

Running stream

The birds calls of Indian Pitta, Gray Junglefowl, Greater Coucal, Jerdon’s Nightjar, White-cheeked Barbet were the first to reach our ears when we started our bird watching. We spend 3 hours in the forest. The long, chill but raucous stream gave us more enthusiasm with its uproar. We spotted and heard the calls of many bird species. To name a few – Black Drongo, Shikra, Red-vented Bulbul, Yellow-billed Babbler, Indian Robin, Oriental Magpie-Robin, Common Myna, Purple-rumped Sunbird, Indian Peafowl, Spotted Dove, Chestnut-headed Bee-eater, Indian Roller, Coppersmith Barbet, Common Iora, etc. The migratory species Greenish Warbler, nests of Baya Weaver should never be missed to mention. The colourful flying friends – butterflies were flying merrily once the sun started shining and the colourful Small Orange tip, Three-spot Grass yellow, Tawny Coster, Blue Tiger, Pied Pierrot, Common Jezebel, Common Rose, Grass yellow, Banded Peacock, Psyche, Striped Tiger, etc enthralled us by their dancing movements. Muhil explained about the dragonflies species during our trail. And we all interacted about birds with volunteer Ramesh.

Muhil explaining about a bird to Ramesh

கேப்பங்கூழ் (Ragi porridge), கொள்ளு (horse gram) chutney and lady’s finger made by samayalamma and Subramani anna quenched our hunger. It is purely a delicacy. We wrapped up our stay with happy memories. Me and my friends are thankful to all the volunteers and the Nature for making our visit one of the memorable event of our life.


கேப்பங்கூழ், கொள்ளு chutney

The Cuckoo Forest School at Singarapettai is a standing example for the lines ” கைத்தொழில் ஒன்றை கற்றுக்கொள், கவலை உனக்கில்லை ஒத்துக்கொள்”. Self-sufficiency and sustainable living is the synonym for Cuckoo Forest School.




To know more about Cuckoo Forest School, visit http://cuckoochildren.blogspot.in/2012/12/cuckoo-forest-dear-friends-welcome.html and their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/cuckoochildren/

What butterflies do at night?

Nature is a dynamic 24X7 business arena, where mammals, birds, insects, busily work during daytime for their food and survival. But what about their activities at night, especially in case of diurnal (active during daytime) ones that are not been designed to be active at night. What they do at night? Do they sleep at night? If yes, where they would rest? To know the answer for this intriguing questions, I started to observe birds first in my campus*. I could get closer look on birds, especially shy ones like Grey Francolin (Francolinus pondicerianus) and swift-flyer like Common Tailorbird (Orthotomus sutorius) which are otherwise difficult to see from close quarters during the day. Besides looking at birds, I found several colourful butterflies that are adding radiance by their presence to the forest, and thus I started my survey on butterfly roosting (resting).

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The Existence


A man sees what he wants to see, and disregards the rest.
– Paul Simon.

A 125 year old banyan tree stands tall with her 265 feet wide body and 75 aerial prop roots hanging around her trunk that stabilizes her on the ground. She had seen more than four generations of mankind and innumerable wear and tears of her own body. She is a mother for many species of birds, insects, millions of microbes, small mammals and surrogate mother for banyan wasps. She stands as a strong one that had escaped several demolishing attempts. She was planned to be knocked down for road extension at wee hours to avoid public protests. Can she survive one more attempt? Every life has the right to live here in this world or in the parallel world. Does the parallel world really exists to save her?!


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You might be wondering what ‘Solaipaadi‘ would be!

Well, ‘Solaipaadi’ is a Tamil name for White-rumped Shama (Copsychus malabaricus), a bird species found in Western Ghats. In Tamil, solaipaadi literally means the singer (here, it is bird) in an orchard/forest, i.e. solai – orchard /forest; and paadi – singer.

Warm welcome, to my blog!

I am Divyapriya, pursuing PhD on Vocal communication of birds.  My interest lies in reading, critical thinking and writing. My favourite fields are nature, wildlife, spirituality, alternative medicine, genetics, bird acoustics, Indian history and Geography (it keeps adding on)…