Yeoor Hills - A Monsoon Trails Report


Yeoor Hills, 21st June '08
Yeoor Hills, the Eastern side of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park is a gateway to heaven, in your backyard. A place where people come to party, get drunk and fight. No, that's not what we're going to be talking 'bout here.
Yeoor Hills is approx. of 40 sq. km. Easily accessible, within city limits, and full of activities. Birders, insect lovers, all kinds of nature enthuziasts flock here for a treat. With about a 100 (and more) butterfly species recorded here, it is not less than an old forest that stands virgin.
For more information on Yeoor, visit - http://www.borivlinationalpark.com/y_profile.htm

I love going Yeoor, there's always something new that I come to see. It has been like a school to me, where I developed or rather discovered this interest in insects. The best thing about Yeoor is, it is easy to go, less time consuming, and one hell of a jungle!
Most of my trails to Yeoor, specifically, have been in the dry seasons, but those were fruitful too. I went Yeoor recently, and discovered a yet another face of nature... a chapter of Monsoon I'd say with those unique creatures you'll find in monsoon. And as I speak of it, you'll see what all I could capture through lens.

Maidens Hair Fern
Monsoon literally transforms the look of the landscape. Compared to the dry seasons, it is obviously very green but as much rich in the undergrowth as it is on top of the trees.
The rain drizzled down the leaves as we traversed on the path, hunting - literally - to shoot (photoshoot!) anything on the way. But our luck seemed to be a distant wish, and we could only see a few common species fluttering away. With Golden Fronted Chlorposis visiting trees to trees, Laughing Doves all 'round us and the Brain Fever bird - Common Hawk Cuckoo haunting us with its calls, we saw quite a few birds without pain in the butt. But, it was the life in the undergrowth that I was after, and was lucky enough to capture a glance of it.

Baronet - Euthalia nias

Baronet is a brightly coloured Nymphalid that is common throughout Yeoor. Here it was seen puddling, and excreting excess water. It is a highly territorial butterfly and will defend it's territory with power. It is fond of sitting on the ground with its wings wide open, and once it's bodily mechanisms are activated, it'll give you a run for your photo!
Within the thicket we saw many, many beetles. From Click Beetles (Elateridae) to Fire Flies (Lampyridae) and Leaf Beetles (Chrysomelidae) to the beetles that I have no idea where they belong.


An Unidentified Beetle


A Leaf Beetle
And their cousins, the Weevils (Curculionoidea), from the smaller spiny ones to these giants! It was like being out of this world!

Unidentified Weevils


Life was blooming here and the winged insects bejeweled every plant of it. An amazing moth, with an equally amazing name, the Upside Down Moth, Orudiza protheclaria - a Uraniid was seen sitting in a perfect position. You'll see why is it called an Upside Down moth!

Upside Down Moth - Orudiza protheclaria


Other than that, we could see see some lovely creepy crawlys, I mean the caterpillars of a moth, very unusual, with a huge head and golden body, a caterpillar mostly that of a Noctuid.



A Moth Caterpillar


And, a very beautiful caterpillar that of a Common Indian Crow, curling up in the leaves on our approach.

Common Indian Crow caterpillar
This subtle world of delicate darlings was pleasant. But there lurked predators, stalking and ambushing the prey! One such stealth hunter is the Robber Fly (Asilidae), an aerial predator with raptor like skills! I was fortunate enough to capture one with a Hover Fly kill, and sucking away all its juices. I wonder, the combat between these two helluva aerodynamic machines must've been fantastic!

A Robber Fly with a kill


While returning, a friend upturned a stone, with a fortunate intent, and we saw a tiny scorpion! I have no idea about its identification, and help is always appreciated. Here's a snap of that Scorpion which was about an inch long.

Scorpion to be identified
Update June 16, 2013: The scorpion is probably an Isometrus sp.

There was still a last surprize, and something that I had always wanted to see. And that's an Owlfly! It was resting on a dead branch beside the pathway, and thanks to a friend, I could see it and photograph it. Owlflies (Ululodes) are dragonfly like insects with long knobbed antennae. They're more closely related to the Antlions. Adult owlflies are aerial predators feeding on other insects. When disturbed, some owlflies will release a strong, musk-like, chemical to deter an enemy. Adults of many New World species are most active at sunset and dawn and can often be collected around lights. During the day, such adults rest on stems and twigs with the body, legs, and antennae pressed to the stem. The abdomen in a few species is held up, projecting into the air, to look like a broken twig.



An Owlfly

Here ends a beautiful trail. It was quite small, we were there for not more than five hours, and we saw lots and lots of these beauties. Yeoor Hills sure is an abode for all that is beautiful. Let is protect it. How, you ask? Well, ask yourself. Stop littering, plant trees, do this and that in favour of the nature in your surrounding, and it'll add up to save other such complex yet fragile places like Yeoor Hills.

Bracket Fungus
Thank you for your precious time!

1 comment:

  1. Hi aniruddha, really nice post! Always wanted to know what the insects on the trail were.

    My knowledge is limited to what I see in Buggin with ruud on animal planet :)

    Btw there are a species of tarantulas near the yeoor river, which live in small openings in the ground with web spun on entrances. Would be great if u could capture them on camera.

    Am in thane too, if possible would like to get together for a trail walk sometime

    cheers

    Ravi - www.thelargerpicture.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete