Pattampoochi - Butterfly Magazine Pattampoochi - Wings 1 Veins 3 2017 - Page 21

Butterflies of Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve Subhiksha. S "So what if there is no camera?” -Abhishek jokes… “You'll focus more on watching birds if you don't have your camera", Amma said. I replied “I'll go, as memories of my pre- camera, binocular held days flashed in my mind.” And Amma replies "Well, then, you better go to bed, you'll have to wake up at 4 next morning". And that's how my participation in the STR Raptor Survey 2017 fell into place the previous night. The drive from Chennai to Sathy was said to be 8 hours but, thanks to Abhishek's envious driving skills, the Chennai team, reached an hour before schedule. After the arrival of the Coimbatore Nature Society team and the ice- breaking session, Chandru Uncle briefed us about the survey and oriented us as to what to expect and what to cover. We were split into teams of two members each and Abhishek my team Leader and me were assigned to Kulithuraipatti Camp .After a scrumptious lunch, we left for our respective camps aboard the Bolero Camper. It was a smooth ride till Sujjalkuttai, the check-post. However, from then on, the Camper valiantly trudged upon the bumpy road while all of us tried our best to cling on to our seats and not throw up our entire digestive systems. Jumping out of the super-vehicle when we reached our Camp, I was mesmerized as I gazed up at the rugged yet picturesque Blue Mountains which formed the backdrop for our two - day sojourn. After a short evening walk along the river Moyyar, the day was done. We went to bed with dreams of watching soaring vultures and catching a glimpse of at least a tiger's tail, only to wake up next morning to a heavy downpour. Refusing to give up on our hopes yet, we decided to visit the Moyyar, least expecting the spectacle awaiting us. A minute after we reached, the gentle river waters morphed to roaring rapids and the water level rose right in front of our eyes..... Flash flood! Thanks to the heavy showers, of course. As the golden rays of the morning Sun started seeping in from the thinning cloud cover, we left for Karuvanrayar Kovil and fifteen minutes into the survey, our APW beckoned us, lo! A lone King Vul- ture made his way to our list as the first bird of the day. With heightened spirits, we continued on the track, although the appearances of butterflies slowed me down as I stopped every time I spotted a Plain Tiger or a Pioneer. With the addition of White-rumped Vultures and Indian Vultures to our survey list, the butterfly list started growing too. The sudden burst of the pierid population was made note of, with Jezebels, Grass Yellows, Tips (with the exception of Great Orange-tip) making their presence known. En route to Karuvanrayar Kovil, we halted at Sultan Paalam for a break. The beautiful bridge across one of the smaller streams of the Moyyar, with hills surrounding it, looked something out of an old adventure movie. Along the banks of the stream were small groups of mud-puddling Grass yellows, Yellow Orange Tips and Lime butterflies, with an occasional common crow, common leopard or a blue tiger. Resuming our walk, with the calls of Crested Serpent Eagles resonating all around us, we reached Karuvanrayar Kovil after an hour 's walk. The presence of NeerMathi trees, known for their affinity to Vultures, along the stream was not missed due to their gleaming silver barks. At Karuvanrayar Kovil, again mud -puddling groups were spotted; although this time I was overjoyed to see a handful of Spot Swordtails at the site. Our transect officially ended with the sighting of a Brahminy Kite and we were back to our base camp.