On Facebook, Nilesh Jasani nominated me for the seven-day long nature photography challenge, where one posts one photograph every day for, predictably, seven days.
what I am trying
to capture is the sheer
delicacy of it: like the way
that sunlight breaks across
water in a million fragments,
or the smallness of stars
at night and the vastness of
the night sky about them. or
the stars in their deep brown
eyes and how it twinkles
in the afternoon. or the
burgeoning sense of birdsong
in the morning growing with
the growing light. or the
patterns of rain on river. or
the oldness of tree roots. or
the drifting dance of butterfly
wings and the colours each day
The Blues are a subgroup of the family Lycaenidae, which comprise some 30% of butterflies species worldwide. They are a pain in the butt.
The first problem: they’re tiny. They hold the smallest butterfly in the world – the grass jewel – and often the difference between species comes to one spot on the hindwing that you can’t even see anyways. And they never stop moving.
Second problem: they’re also beautiful, but you never see that. (See point 1.) Their uper wings are a stunning blue in the right light. Unfortunately, even if the light is present, to see one sunbathing and stay still long enough for you to get close is an enormous feat of patience.
Mostly it comes down to hoping, and waiting. So this sighting, in the Western Ghats, made me extremely happy. 🙂
Painted Ladies are the most widely distributed butterfly: found on every continent except for Antarctica and Australia, they’re so ubiquitous even halfway across the world, in a continent I was totally unfamiliar with, they were the sole butterfly I managed to identify in Jordan. This individual was spotted at the other end of the continental plate, in the Himalayas; you can see its long, thin proboscis feeding on the orange flower that just happens to complement the subtle colors on its wings. Sometimes Nature selects her palette perfectly.
I first saw a blue pansy in the butterfly field guide I picked up on a whim at a stall from our local nature society. It captivated me: I found the brilliance of its colors, elegance in its wings immensely attractive, and vowed to see it in Singapore.
It would be years (well, two) before I clapped eyes on it there – finally, it was at a carpark, of all places, in a patch of grass that tawny costers and pansies, amongst others, had decided to colonize in unusually dense numbers on an unusually hot day. (Then again, this is Singapore we’re talking. Everyday is unusually hot.)
In Bangalore, however, I was walking one day when I noticed a ragged individual in a bush. It was a happy experience, to say the least – surreal, the fact that something that pretty was right there.
And then, predictably, I found it everywhere from then on. Ah well. I’m not complaining.
An as yet unidentified butterfly feeds on a flower in Kullu, India, its delicate proboscis just barely visible. It probably a member of Lycaenidae, otherwise known as the Blues – so named not because of their rather drab outside but rather the brilliant blue that hides in their folded-up inner wings. The largest family of butterflies in the world, it is one of a full third of the world’s butterfly species.
A female Great Eggfly (Hypolimnas bolina), also known as the Blue Moon butterfly if you’re a Kiwi, puddles on the ground in Coorg, India. Butterflies are some of the best examples of sexual dimorphism in the wild. The male of this species has iridescent blue spots on his wings; while the flecks of cyan on this female’s are a little lackluster in comparison, I like to think it lends a sort of restrained elegance to her appearance.
We have come to the end – of an era, maybe not, but of a rotation around the sun, of the usage of 2-0-1-4 in dates, of – well, really, nothing. Still, it’s as good a time as any to round up what I’ve done and figure out where I’m going. No doubt you’ve been overladen already with these kind of posts, but really, I can’t think of a better time just to say thank you. When I began this blog, I expected nothing. And I mean nothing. As in zilch, zero, nada, in terms of followers, or likes, or really anything. You guys have overwhelmed me. The fact that people want to (or are forced to) actually read my rants about nature is beyond comprehension. This year has been a huge one in terms of my photography and my experiences in nature.
My trip to Africa in July produced many unforgettable experiences which I am far from done with sharing with you guys. In October, I visited Kullu, a district in the Himalayas; aside from 25 species of birds, I came away with a renewed appreciation for the simple beauty of nature. And just recently – two days ago, in fact – I returned from a trip to Coorg and Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary. I’m still at a loss for words to explain my experience there, but when coherence returns you will see what I saw, as best as I can show it to you. Closer to home, I made numerous trips to MacRitchie (including one trip with Lavanya of My Nature Experiences, who is a person so amazing I have no idea why I didn’t meet her sooner, and also my former partner in crime for the Crazy Tiny Insects challenge), Dairy Farm Nature Reserve, Sungei Buloh, Greenleaf Forest, the Green Corridor, and many, many more fantastic places within Singapore. When this was combined with an afternoon spent with Birds of Singapore, my count of birds I’ve seen within – you guessed it, Singapore – was pushed up to a whopping 92, not including swiftlets. (They are irritating little buggers to identify, ok?)
On the photography front, I would like to say I have gained a greater understanding of a) how and when to use my camera and b) how and when not to use my camera this year. Maybe it paid off. I won a Consolation Prize in the NParks Trees for Life competition, and also received third place in an intra-school photograph competition, for a photograph I featured earlier on one of my Journal Journeys posts. (I haven’t mentioned this earlier on my blog, actually. So yay?) In addition, my photograph of Karambe, the largest black rhinoceros on the Masai Mara, received Spotting of the Day on Project Noah. My photograph of a yawning African Spotted Hyena was selected as Pic of the Day on National Geographic’s Great Nature Project.
I have no idea why any of you would have wanted to read all of this or indeed why any of you came here in the first place. I certainly have no idea why I came here or, indeed, where I’m going. So my New Year’s Resolution, I guess, is to keep it fresh. Never forget the feeling of whispering forests in the afternoon, or the call of birds at some unearthly hour in the morning, or the thrill of excitement in identification and realization. Nature is – well, nature is what it is, and that is something uncorrupted by humans, something more beautiful than hoping or wishing or any of these twenty-six letters, really. And nature, I believe, is essential – for us, in the moment of knowing, and for itself, in the moment of being.
Beneath are all of the photographs I’ve uploaded to this blog this year. See at will. This is my 100th post, fitting for my final words of 2014, which (really) don’t matter. Still, for what it counts – thank you.