My garden about which you have heard a lot is just .42 acres. In case you are new to this blog, it is quite well wooded as well. Most of the trees in it have been planted by me since I was 13 -- from the time I got hooked on nature as a schoolboy. Now that I am 30-something some of those trees stand to remind me how much I have aged as a naturalist. My garden borders to 9 other neighbouring home gardens, some of which are also quite well-wooded. So, by no means it is an island surrounded by lifeless sea of development. The natural riches that I get in my yard are also thanks to my neighbours who keep their gardens greener. This has helped to maintain a large enough area to harbour a decent enough diversity of natural history in what is actually a sprawling residential area.
Some of my neighbours are related to me and I have unfettered access to their gardens 24/7. I have even planted a few trees in them from time to time for habitat enrichment. Some of them are economically important trees. And I happen to derive indirect benifits from having them in the vicinity. So, it is a win-win partnership, as I see it. I have to observe here that none of my dear neighbours are as keen on natural history as I am. In fact they remain wilfully ignorant of the nature around them and lead lives of aloof ordinary citizens.
With that being the state of affairs, my cousin bro, next door decided to a clear what he termed as a 'grassy jungle' in his backyard, which in my world of reality translated into a good dragonfly and butterfly patch. Perhaps, he didn't know that it was a happy hunting ground of mine. Perhaps, I didn't dwell the importance of his backyard patch has to many critters that call it a home. All of a sudden he seemed to have got this preposterous notion of a 'cleaner environment' and turned a NIMBY!. He is not alone in this erratic thinking and quite a few neighbours seem to have their gardens with minimal low vegetation.
Careful diplomacy with my cousin to spare those patches fell on deaf ears. In our close-knit Asian social relationships, we depend on each other -- especially the neighbours for various kindnesses that are not valued in monetary terms. Having had no positive response to save this patch, I had to resort to more persuasive means of negotiations such as by threatening them of 'islolation' and categorising them into 'axis of evil'!Finally, this worked somewhat and I managed to save a few squares of 'grassy jungles' just as Tom Lovejoy saved those rectilineal squares of 1, 10, 100, 1000 sq.km of Amazonian rain forests from being clear-felled in the late 70s when they were being cleared by the Brazilian government to create among other things, cattle ranches to meet the demands of meat-eaters 'Up North'. Tom, I learnt had used less threatening negotiation tactics.
Due to thick overhead vegetation, my garden until recently had very few patches getting direct sunlight at the ground level, which is an important requirement for a good butterfly and dragonfly patch. This is why I decided to create a permanent patch for dragonflies and butterflies in my yard - one that I'd have full control of. After all, I cannot go on to use my bargaining tactics with my neighbours all the time!
For this end, I opened up a sun-lit patch in my backyard by selectively logging a few trees recently. More information of this new patch and a dragonfly pond that I am creating in it as we speak will be dealt in post later on. Until then, here's my .02 of the stuff I found in my .42 in the last few days. Enjoy!
Common Hourglass Tree-frog Polypedates cruciger -- adult female. Endemic species.
Common Pierrot Castalius rosimon
Green Imperiel Pigeon Ducula aenea - feeding on fruits of Fish-tailed Palm Caryota urens. This is a record shot. I have far better shots of this, which is the largest wild pigeon in Sri Lanka. I have 6 Fish-tail Palms in my yard.
Hump-nosed Viper Hypnale hypnale -- found inside a pile of coconut husks while clearing the land for the pond. Venomous but not deadly to humans.
Tiny Grass Blue Zizula hylax -- wing span of the adult is about 1.5 cm -- the first butterfly photographed in the new patch.
Pied Parasol Neurothemis tullia tuillia -- female
Oh! I had yet another new bird in my yard in the form of a Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike Hemipus picatus, which is also a new one to my local area. As in other recent new records, I heard it first. An Indian Pygmy Woodpecker and a Large Cuckooshrike were also seen well.