Posted by: cochinblogger | July 10, 2009

The Blue-Veined Beauty

Hi, this is Cochin Blogger at your service. I’m based in a town called Cochin (officially, Kochi) in the state of Kerala, which is perched at the southern-most tip of India. It’s just a stone’s throw from Sri Lanka, and is famous for its unique natural beauty. Kerala is a slim, blue-veined beauty, with canals, backwaters, lagoons, rivers, lakes, ponds, and puddles galore, a thin strip of land caressed by the waters of the Arabian Sea.

Kerala’s trademark is tropical fecundity. It’s a paradise that is still largely unspoiled because of the low level of industrialization. Kerala first hit the international headlines when it voted the communists to power in 1957, this being only the second time communists anywhere in the world have formed a popularly elected government (the first time was in the tiny republic of San Marino).

Right, I’m signing off now. I’ll be sure to keep you posted. 🙂

Posted by: cochinblogger | June 30, 2022

A True Vegetarian

Posted by: cochinblogger | May 31, 2022

Political Street Art

Shot on Banerji Road. Click on the photo to enlarge it.

Posted by: cochinblogger | April 30, 2022

Eye to Eye with the Red Pierrot

I shot this striking little butterfly, the Red Pierrot (Talicada nyseus), in my yard on February 22.

It usually keeps its wings closed when it perches, and so the undersides of the wings are what we see (as in the photo above). The upper sides of the wings look dramatically different.

Note: Click on the photo to enlarge it.

Posted by: cochinblogger | March 31, 2022

Bat in Subhash Park

A rustling in the branches was followed by high-pitched squeaks from somewhere within the canopy. The tree overlooked the bay on the western boundary of Subhash Park. I paused mid-stride and waited. It wasn’t long before a bat broke cover, hanging upside down from a branch dipping towards the water. I approached to take a closer look, and it stayed put, swinging gently, staring back at me. The sun had set and the bat, seemingly enjoying the breeze blowing in from the sea, was outlined against the fading light. I took my point-and-shoot camera out of the bag and captured this scene.

This bat is probably the Indian flying fox. The tree is most likely a fig tree, more specifically the peepal tree (Ficus religiosa), the fruits of which attract bats in droves.

Bats have an unsavory reputation as carriers of viruses. No such odium rests on birds though they too carry various types of coronaviruses (and other viruses too), perhaps because bats are strange-looking nocturnal creatures (though like us humans, they are mammals, which means we are more closely related to them than to birds). Why do bats and birds carry so many viruses? Both are highly diverse species (there are around 1,000 bat species and 10,000 bird species worldwide), they fly long distances, and they gather in communal groups (roosting in bats and flocking in birds), all of which help viruses spread.

Note: Click on the photo to enlarge it.
Posted by: cochinblogger | February 28, 2022

Ernakulam Shiva Temple Festival February 2022

Note: Click to enlarge the photos.

Posted by: cochinblogger | January 31, 2022

The Firecracker Plant

The flowers of this plant are spectacular when in full bloom. My jaw dropped when I saw them while walking briskly down TD West Sannidhi Road, behind the Tirumala Devasom temple.

Believe it or not, this was my first glimpse of this fiery red plant. Its scientific name is Russelia equisetiformis. The plant is native to Mexico and Guatemala.

Click on the photo to enlarge it.

Posted by: cochinblogger | December 31, 2021

Drama on Broadway

I spotted them this morning on Broadway. They readily posed when I asked for a photo. After it was taken I asked where they were from. They said “Fort Kochi.” Ah!

Every year Fort Kochi hosts a carnival to ring in the New Year, and these gentlemen will be in the thick of it tonight. They had come to Broadway for some last-minute purchases.

This unexpected photo-op made my day!

Posted by: cochinblogger | November 30, 2021

Lizard Glam Walk

Shot on 16 September 2021. Durbar Hall Road.

Posted by: cochinblogger | October 31, 2021


It was my younger son who first saw it: something strange lying under a chair in the verandah. I used a slipper to move it out into the open. It was a large beetle flat on its back, unable to right itself. I used the slipper and an old newspaper to put it on its feet, and placed it on the ground outside. It didn’t move and seemed to be dazed. I gave it a gentle tap on its posterior, at which it began moving, first in a tight circle, and then purposefully toward a row of plants at the edge of the yard. That was my good deed for the day.

A little online investigation revealed that the beetle is in all probability a scarab, a dung beetle. The forewings of this beetle have hardened into a protective carapace that protects the hind wings and inner parts. This structure can open a little, allowing it to fly with its hindwings. Dung is the elixir of life for these beetles, used as both food and as a house in which to raise their young.

My first encounter with the dung beetle — though I didn’t realize it at the time — was in the guise of that artifact of ancient Egypt, the scarab, which turned up regularly in the adventure books for boys I used to read in school. The ancient Egyptians were fascinated by the dung beetle, and one of their gods had the head of a scarab. To the Egyptians, the movement of the dung ball along the ground symbolized the journey of the sun in the sky.

This astronomical connection seemed far-fetched to me — until I read that scientists have proved that dung beetles use the starry sky for navigation at night. It was first thought that they used moonlight, but it turned out they navigated well even on moonless nights. Scientists used small micro-hats to block the beetles’ view of the sky, upon which they began to circle aimlessly. Once their view of the night sky was restored, they resumed their hat-interrupted journey. It seems they use the Milky Way for navigation.

So, maybe the ancient Egyptians were on to something after all.

Posted by: cochinblogger | September 30, 2021


Shot from an upstairs window in June 2021.

The cry of the shikra (the little banded goshawk, Accipiter badius) is unmistakable, a loud high-pitched pee-weeee, pee-weeee. I rushed to the window, and there it was on the mango tree in my backyard. I could see that it was busy with something at its feet. An unfortunate lizard had fallen victim to the raptor. I admired the handsome bird for a moment, and then lost no time in getting my camera.

From the red eye, one can infer that this bird is a mature male (females don't get red eyes, but they are larger than males and are more brown than gray). Both parents participate in caring for their young. These are clean birds; unlike many birds that soil their nest, they keep their nest clean by squirting their droppings outside the nest. Shikras will take small birds, lizards, small rodents, squirrels, frogs, and insects like dragonflies and mantises.

The shikra is the only true hawk in the Coromandel region. In Pakistan and India, it was captured and trained by falconers, who used it to hunt and fetch food for the more valuable falcons. Of course, that was in the past; falconry was banned in India in 1972. However, it seems that it is legal in the US and Europe.

I'm indebted to the excellent Wildlife Great and Small of India's Coromandel by Tim Wrey for information on the shikra.

Note: Click on the photo to enlarge it.

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