Thursday, February 23, 2012

Like kites? Then look at this moon moth

Indonesian Moon Moth?
This is one crazy-looking moon moth. My father-in-law (FiL) came across this guy in the school he is headmaster at. This was probably 3 years ago and at that time, all he had on him was his Nokia phone, so the captures are not crystal clear.

Even then, this moth is striking in appearance, with its kite-like wing span and long, tapering tail. The tail-end looks like a twisted tassel, something you would come across in flower petals.

The antennae is not very clear but they are long and brush-like, typical of any moth. My FiL excitedly mailed the pictures to me and I in turn posted them on BirdForum.net. Unfortunately, no one was able to identify him. The people on the forum are pros and veteran nature photographers. After a lot of googling, I came across similar moths – moon moths. Not much is written about moon moths on Wikipedia, except for their classification in the insect kingdom.

Like a hang glider...
At the time of writing this post, I tried searching again and I came across a picture of the Indonesian Moon Moth. This looks strikingly similar to the one my FiL found in his school office. I do remember visiting this website earlier but never did come across the Actias Maenas, which is the scientific name of the Indonesian Moon Moth. Well, I am glad I did now. The identification mystery is finally solved, I think. But I don't understand how this fellow ended up in Siliguri, West Bengal, India. There must be sub-species or a migratory route it follows. I mean, the Indonesian Moon Moth's habitat is listed as tropical rainforest. This one was sighted on the outskirts of Siliguri, which is a town at the base of the Himalayas and serves as a trade corridor the north-east. Now I am not sure whether the forest area is tropical or not, I am no expert on that but it does not add up. Lost or not, this guy made for some eventful e-mailing, Googling and forum posting.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Parrots: House hunting?

Paying a friendly breakfast visit?

This morning I happened to take a train from Grant Road Station, Mumbai and walk down to the Post Office for some work. On my way back, I came across these two parrots looking into a hollow on this (Gulmohar?) tree. All I had with me was my phone cam, so the pictures are really not that good. As soon as I took pictures and walked on, one of the parrots shrieked loudly, flew off and to my amazement a third one popped its head out of the hollow! I'd like to think this was a breakfast meet up.
...or scoping for a new home?

In reality, these two must have been scouting for a new home and got startled by the resident. Anyway, when I checked these pictures out, I realised that these are not rose-ringed parakeets. I assumed they were because you usually see the Alexandrine parrots in the suburbs. It was my oversight that I didn't bother to notice what type they were before impatiently (and hurriedly) taking a picture.


So, it turns out, if one looks very carefully at the poor quality captures, one will notice reddish patches (smudges, in this case) on their shoulders. That means they are Alexandrine parakeets – an 'introduced' species of parrots in Mumbai. Yep, I had read somewhere that unlike the rose-ringed ones, these guys are not native.

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