Showing posts from November, 2012

Urban Birds of Prey (Part II)

Let's have a look at some more raptors that can be seen in our city.

The magnificent White-bellied Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster) is an opportunistic carnivore with a diet that includes fish, turtles, sea snakes, birds and mammals. It is also monogamous., i.e. a pair remain together until one bird dies, after which the surviving bird quickly seeks a new mate. Mumbai's coastal areas would be the best place to observe this bird.

The Oriental Honey Buzzard (Pernis ptilorhynchus)is a bird of prey from the family Accipitridae. It has a long neck with a relatively small head (resembling the pigeon), making it appear quite distinct from other raptors. It is called the Honey Buzzard as it is known to feed on comb, larvae, pupae and adult forms of bees and wasps. It's diet also includes other insects, reptiles, amphibians, birds and smaller mammals. 

Changeable Hawk-Eagle (Nisaetus cirrhatus)is a bird of prey, more often seen perched on trees instead of flying. It is not a very la…

Urban Birds of Prey (Part I)

Raptors are ‘birds of prey’ and they are one of the most fascinating hunters of all time. They are found throughout the world and they adapt very well to various habitats. They are known for their stealth, speed and killer instinct. Today let's look at some of our urban raptors (birds of prey).
One of the most common raptors that we see are kites. Here is the Black Kite (Milvusmigrans), a medium-sized bird of prey in the family Accipitridae. When they soar above in the sky you can easily identify them by their slender body and forked tails. The Black Kite can easily be called, 'Raptor of urban skies', as it is very abundant in our city.

Next comes the Shikra (Accipiter badius), a small raptor often seen being bullied by the numerous crows found in our city. You will most likely get to see one in Sanjay Gandhi National Park. The bird has a very peculiar call that goes like, 'kik-ki.. kik-ki..'. It is a very skilled hunter and it is known to prey on birds and animals …

The Day after Diwali

It’s the day after Diwali. Last night a huge number of people all across the city celebrated the festival by lighting up firecrackers. This morning the sweepers have swept away the remains of those crackers, and well, we think that’s the end of the story. But no, unfortunately our episode with the fireworks doesn’t end that easily. Firecrackers leave behind an after-cloud of toxic substances that are harmful in various ways.
So today let’s take a look at the harmful substances that linger on in the atmosphere, long after the colourful fireworks display has died down.
Fireworks consist of gunpowder and some ‘unique’ chemical substances that give them their colour and effect. Some of these substances include cadmium, barium, dioxins, strontium and perchlorates, apart from other chemicals. If you think that use of fireworks doesn’t really cause much harm, let me tell you what these ‘unique’ chemicals alone are capable of doing.

Cadmium: It is widely used in fireworks without any restricti…

Bio-indicators in your Locality

Mumbai is the commercial capital of India and it is developing at a very fast rate. But at what cost does this development come?
Our city’s pollution problem is a well-known fact – we are the 10th most polluted city in the country! The pollution problem is currently a very serious one and it is detrimental to our health. In this blog post, we are not going to look at how we could tackle this problem; instead we will consider how to identify if our own residential area is pollution free or not? And we are going to do this with the help of ‘bio-indicators’.
Bio-indicators are basically flora and fauna that can be used to monitor the health of the environment. All plants and animals act as bio-indicators in one way or another. And here are some of the most common bio-indicators that we come across.

Lichens: Lichens are unusual and amazing organisms and they consist of fungus and algae living as one. They are found throughout the world; and in cities they can be seen growing on trees, wa…