Saturday, November 13, 2004

Fortifying trip at the BAssein fort

Yesterday evening I along with my friend Keith and Mr.Anil Pinto went to visit the Vasai Fort. We had been there to mark a trail at the fort as a nature trail for BNHSnorthmumbaigroup has been proposed there on December 12th.
We had a great time as we got to see different aspects of nature. It was around late noon (4o’clock) when we reached there by Keith’s car. Did quite a good bit of trailing.
The place is quite close to the coast and inhabited by the fisher folk. We were welcomed by scrutinizing looks of the fishermen who were working near the fort premises. As we got down from the car we saw the beautiful creatures of the insect world. The striped beauties and eyed pansies blessed us in huge numbers. Looking around for more such butterflies we walked past number of flowering plants and spiders.
In fact I realized the true sense of the term spooky yesterday when I saw in a small patch 15-16 cobwebs hanging with big bulky female giant wood spiders waiting for their prey. They were sssssspppppoooooookkkkyyyy!!!!!!! It was so certain that if one doesn’t watch his/her step he/she would definitely land into a cobweb. But I should say what a masterpiece of architecture. We could observe these spiders closely that even the marks, lines on the bac all were clear. The butterflies indeed were successful escaping these danger zones.
As the place was filled with rocks, stones and boulders we kept our eyes and ears open to notice any movement. We passed many broken remnants of the fort. At one place we saw a rana tigrina, commom toad, brookes gecko and a reddish bodied gecko. No clue what it was. We walked past a small pond like thing which I suppose was the bathing place for the earlier rulers. The paths being narrow and green all along made us more excited. The climate was very pleasant little chilly. There were number of plants flowering like the Barleria , Hygrophila auriculata ( Talimkhana), Plumbago zeylanica ( insectivorous plants), Vigna vexillata, lantana camara, Costus speciosus ( spiral ginger), etc. We also saw the khakhujli ( Mucuna pruriens) fruit and another fruit of which I have no clue. The fruit was like the dry seed of mango with thorns and brown coloured. The Leaves were pinnately compound and had curved prickles on the underside of the leaflet rachis. Looked like a member of leguminosae family.
I have listed down the different butterflies seen at the end. We also saw a ahsy Drongo, spotted dove and some other common birds. I was lucky enough to have a quick glimpse of the fleeting paradise flycatcher female. It flew from one plant to another finally disappearing from the vision. It was gone before I could tell it to others. We saw the cricket frog tooo. The white stripe was so prominent. Another exciting sighting was a caterpillar of a moth/butterfly which was just ready to pupate. The caterpillar was bright reen in colour and had built a beautiful web around itself on a dry leaf. When I looked down it looked like stings but on close observation u could see the golden green threads. What a creation!!!!!!!!! All along the untrailed paths there were plenty of these talimkhana plants with their defending thorns. It was a difficult task passing them withour getting scratched.
We had to hurry up as we had another place to check out before it got dark. We got back to naigaon then and we ( keith, Sharon and myself) went to the mangroves along the railway. We saw a dog faced watersnake very well camouflaged under the wet and mud covered with water. It was awesome with its black bands. Size was around a foot. Before it got completely dark we saw long tailed shrike, pond heron and small bats, heard black headed munias too.
It was indeed a splendid day but unfortunately no photographs taken to show the great moments and ask some doubts.
The lists are –
1. Cattle egret
2. Pond heron
3. Spotted dove
4. Asian palm swift
5. White throated kingfisher
6. Ashy Drongo
7. Red vented bulbul
8. White cheeked bulbul
9. Paradise flycatcher female
10. Magpie robin
11. Purple rumped sunbird
12. Black headed munia
13. Long tailed shrike

1. Common grass yellow
2. 3 spotted grassyellow
3. Plain tiger
4. Common wanderer
5. Cerulean
6. Common gull
7. Choclate pansy
8. Common crow
9. Peacock pansy
10. Common psyche
11. Common rose
12. Crimson rose
13. Striped tiger
14. Blue tiger
15. Sailor
16. Lemon pansy

Lots seen but have written down the flowering or fruiting ones.
1. Barleria ,
2. Hygrophila auriculata ( Talimkhana),
3. Plumbago zeylanica ( insectivorous plants),
4. Vigna vexillata, lantana camara,
5. Costus speciosus ( spiral ginger)
6. khakhujli ( Mucuna pruriens)
7. Urena lobata. And many more.

Cricket frog
Rana tigrina
Common toad
Giant wood spiders in plenty
An about to pupate caterpillar
Dog faced watersnake
Brookes gecko
Garden calotes

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