We were in the northeast for three weeks and during that time the sky changed. We left to a city crowned by deep blue skies traversed by the occasional wispy thread of white languidly floating by. Today on my way back from the Foreigners' Regional Registration office (always an ordeal), I stared up at a sky in which grey and white dominated with light blue only taking up about a third of the vista. Although some of the clouds were cotton candy-soft, the majority were crisp outlines of grey and white cumulonimbus and nimbostratus in stark contrast to the blue behind. Today's newspaper reported three rain-related deaths: two by lightning strikes and one by "flying asbestos panels." It also reports that the monsoon should arrive ahead of season, possibly hitting Kerala as early as next week. My laundry still dried in a matter of hours, however, so I guess it's not here yet...
Male house sparrow in Gujarat
So, talk about crazy things. In Hawaii, where there are no native sparrows, they are common species and considered a pest by some. Here in India, where the House Sparrow is native, the birds are on the decline and are rarely seen in urban areas (Delhi has adopted it as the State Bird due to concerns over it's decline). Today, 20 March, is World Sparrow Day, dedicated to saving sparrows in their native range.
Indian sparrow info
Info on decline of similar birds in England
No making fun of the asses
(you can tell how busy it's been the last few months -- I'm finally posting December travel (21-28) in March)
When Tim's folks made their plans to visit we were excited to have the opportunity to visit north India. Unfortunately, they were unable to fly out until after Christmas so it meant that most of the boys' winter break occurred before they arrived. We thought about hanging out in Bangalore and flying to Delhi on 28 December, but that many free-days in the city sounded painful so we pulled out a map and a guidebook and decided to travel part-way to Delhi in the week of vacation before they arrived. After looking at lots of options, the boys decided that the coolest thing to do would be to travel to Gujarat and see the wild ass sanctuary (I'm not sure whether to be a proud ecologist-mother whose children chose a wildlife sanctuary over all other forms of entertainment, or to roll my eyes because I know that they really just wanted to get to say "asses" over and over). So, the day after Kalani's train rolled in from the 35 hour trip back from Delhi we hopped on a plane bound for Ahmedabad.
Coffee, black pepper, silk oak plantation agroforestry in Yercaud
After the conference in Salem we drove up to the Eastern Ghats. First we visited Kohlli Hills (which we thought was near where we were staying but turned out to be 90km in the opposite direction!), then we drove to Yercaud where we stayed in a really nice resort (3-day weekend, there wasn't much choice in hotels) for a couple nights. Forests were mostly confined to the lower elevations of the hills at Yercaud and the upper part was lush agroforestry systems growing coffee and spices.
Our first goal after Glen, etc's arrival was to get away from the maddening crowd. We did a fairly good job by going to an agro-resort outside of Madikeri (Coorg). Rainforest Retreat is an organic agroforest that produces coffee, cardamom, vanilla, and black pepper and offers cabins in the woods along with guided treks. We were hoping for an all day trek into the natural forest but due to the high volume of tourists (Dasara festivals) they were only able to offer the short treks that all their guests go on.
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