Monsoon Expedition: Manikgad
Like every conqueror, we’ve had our share of defeats. As we walked thwarted, beaten down and embarrassed; and looked back at Manikgad, and at the grimace it bore over its rocky terrain, we swore to return again. You may now have realized that we could not conquer, well, step at the top of Manikgad. And as disappointed as we were, I came home with not sadness, but sheer joy – all thanks to what Manikgad’s amazingly diverse flora and fauna revealed to us.
|The elusive Manikgad|
Although our trek was a failure, for we were lost amongst a number of diversions in the path, the journey was well worth it. All we did was go round the fort as some of us scouted the woods for a path or a way to cut through the forest and reach a crevice into the side of the fort – the only way to the top. By the time we got to it, it was too late, and we had already planned to return home by early evening. Nonetheless, let’s take a look at the biodiversity of Manikgad as I focused my camera on the tiniest to the largest thing I could see on our journey.
The insect diversity was exceptionally good and slightly different than found on other forts, probably because of the change in the season. As the peak monsoon season is slowly waning, the rain is getting intense as well as scarce at the same time. The heat and humidity is getting intense as well, and will gradually increase until we are into the month that is most biologically active as well as hottest.
In every clearing we reached, there were little aerial predators swiftly swooping over unsuspecting bugs. These air troopers were none other than swarms of dragonflies. The most common, as always, were Pantala flavescens, but there were a number of Tramea limbata as well. I did not know that T. limbata swarm, as I’ve always seen solitary individuals near marshes and other still water bodies such as lakes. There were several Orthetrum sabina around as well, but they did not participate in the swarm and stuck to a niche under one or two meters height (very particular of this species).
|Busy Paper Wasps|
|A Yellow Crazy Ant scouts the wet forest floor|
|A sleepy Bald Beetle (family Ripiphoridae)|
|A grooming Blister Beetle, Mylabris pustula|
The Lepidoptera diversity was pretty low for this time of the year, with only a handful of Danines fluttering around in the still air. When we reached near a clearing close to a stream, we found a colony of Plains Cupids feeding on Celosia inflorescence:
|Does he look scary to you?|
|Polyts sp., family Araneidae|
|White-rumped Vulture, Gyps bengalensis|
Storm in the west, with Karnala Fort in the backdrop
|Two sides of Manikgad during the approaching storm|
|"Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time"|
Some of my companion conquerors are returning to capture Manikgad this weekend. I bow to their never-give-up attitude. I have to visit an old friend this weekend, so my dissatisfaction with the Manikgad trek shall continue to haunt until maybe next year, but I'll see you next month!