Hello, welcome back. How have you been? Do you remember the Barking Deer story from my last blog called ‘Birding in The Valley: Part 1’ (which was actually a continuation of the blog previous to it called ‘The Valley’) ? Well, this one is a continuation of that blog. So it’s like a tri-series, three blogs to complete one long yet interesting tale. Haha I’m sorry, but I cannot help it. There’s so much to tell, so many experiences to share from The Valley. I’m trying to filter out just a few interesting ones, but even that isn’t an easy job for me. So I request you to go through the previous blogs if you haven’t already, before starting this one, so that you can get in the flow.
Here’s the link to my previous blog, that is, the second blog from this series, ‘Birding in The Valley: Part 1’ : https://kswild.video.blog/2020/01/09/birding-in-the-valley-part-1/
And if you haven’t read the first blog, ‘The Valley’, from this tri-series, you can read it here: https://kswild.video.blog/2019/12/25/the-valley/
Indian Paradise Flycatcher rufous male in the forests of the Valley
Flower Chafer Beetle (Chiloloba acuta) from the fields of The Valley
Remember that different patch of the forest that I was talking about in the previous blog? The one which kinda looked like a rainforest from Hollywood movies? This tale is from the same patch, just after the Barking Deer incidence. There was no sign of sunlight penetrating through the dense cover in this special patch of the forest. But it did over a few rocks at a distance with creepers around, typically like in movies. The Barking Deer I talked about came running down the hill-slopes in the patch of the forest just behind these rocks. It’s kind of like an open patch in the forest, very well covered by trees but still having a lot of running space, unlike the rest of the forest. I don’t know if you can imagine that, but its literally like the ones we see in Hollywood movies.
There were many Calotes and lizards around. One such brightly coloured male Forest Calotes was sitting on a creeper. Now, we just saw this brightly coloured male sitting on the creeper, initially, just like you did in the above photo. What we didn’t realise was that there was an amazingly camouflaged female Forest Calotes as well right next to the male. A very interesting ritual was going on there, the courtship ritual. The male was doing pushups to impress his girl. Yes, pushups! Male Forest Calotes do pushups to attract the females. They develop this bright coloration in their breeding season which is around Summer. They have a small fan like flap on their necks which they blume while doing the pushups. They bob their heads and even raise their bodies up and down. This particular male even tried to grab the female forcefully twice or thrice, in vain. It was such a wonderful experience and the habitat around made it even more interesting and memorable. Couldn’t get many photographs in action as there wasn’t much light. Nevermind, I have the moments etched in my memories forever, truly. 🙂
At the end of this blog, I’ve added a link that’ll take you to a short video that I made in the Valley. You’ll get a glimpse of the Forest Calotes male doing push-ups in that video. So don’t forget to check out that video at the end.
Forest Calotes male (Monilesaurus rouxii) from that different patch deep inside the forests of The Valley doing push-ups to impress the female
If you’ve visited the Western Ghats during Winter, you definitely would have seen small cotton like entangled threads at the base of trees, bamboo, in rock cavities and stuff forming a funnel/hole like structure. You can see a lot of these in the forests of The Valley.Ever wondered what it is? How is it everywhere? Who makes it? The creator of this funnel is a small Spider called the Funnel Web Spider or the Funnel Weaver Spider. Not just the Western Ghats, these Spiders are fairly common throughout India and are present in huge numbers. Their web is spread over a much much larger area than their own size and there’s a small funnel at the centre. This is where the spider resides. The larger, non sticky web is built for the prey to get entangled in the threads. These Spiders are lightning fast sprinters. Whenever a potential prey lands on the web, the spider senses the vibrations and rushes to immobilise the prey with its venom. Then it drags the prey into the funnel for a feast. Don’t you worry, almost all Funnel Web Spiders are harmless to humans, expect like one species. These spiders many-a-times are seen resting on the larger webs outside the funnel, or maybe just on the entrance of the funnel. If you try to scare off the spider (without disturbing/destroying the web), it’ll run to take cover in the funnel but will be right back in a minute. Now don’t go here and there scaring the shit outa spiders, this was just to explain it’s behaviour. :p
Funnel Web Spider (Hippasa sp.)
I would like to narrate one incidence from the stream of The Valley. Remember our popular stream? So it was Summer and as I said, no one, not even one person will be present at the stream, or the entire area of The Valley the entire year except the Winter Season. The stream had almost dried up leaving behind just a puddle and damp mud all around, yet the life there wasn’t over. Not birds, but there were a variety of insects like butterflies, wasps, dragonflies, horse flies and bees, puddling in the damp mud, collecting salts. There was a swarm of 100+ Little Honeybees right next to me, hardly a few centimetres away. I had this constant fear of getting stung by atleast one bee and then the entire group as a result (as they leave alarm pheromones at the site of the sting which triggers the other bees). To my surprise, many bees brushed past me but none of them stung me! They were doing their work quite peacefully. A Horse fly came and bit me instead. And trust me, a Horse fly bites terribly. :p The Little Honeybee(Apis florea) is very calm in nature, is what I’ve observed since then. Watching more than a hundred bees from such close quarters, observing their lovely patterns and how they collected salts, was a treat to the eyes 🙂
Little Honeybees (Apis florea) collecting salts in the damp mud at the stream
There are many such tales from The Valley, I could go on and on. You can get such a wonderful experience here, both in terms of an adventure and a diverse wildlife and nature watching session. A beautiful spot to come and enjoy nature and a sense of peace and calmness on a Sunday morning. Definitely one of my most favourite spots for an outing around Pune city. You must have figured this out by now :p
What about you? Is there any such place that is close to your heart, that you could talk about endlessly? I would love to hear about your experiences. Do comment them in the comments section or ping me up on Instagram @ks_wild.
Stay tuned for my next blog where I’ll take you to some other place with some new, interesting stories. See you soon! 🙂
And before you go, here’s a link to a short one minute video I made when I took my friends, who are not into wildlife or nature as such, for an adventure on my regular paths into the forests of The Valley. Sorry couldn’t attach the video directly here due to WordPress restrictions, heres the link-
This is a 3-part blog and you just read the last part. Read the first part of this series here, to establish a connection with The Valley-
If you’ve already established a connection with this place in Part 1 but missed the 2nd Part, you can read it here and continue your adventures at The Valley-