The dry summer continues. It is almost end of August. People do not feel the heat so much, as the cooler winds blow down from across the mountains, after giving up most of the moisture.
But the gusts of wind 30 kmph or more increase the evapotranspiration stress on the trees and plants.
This thorny shrub, which will grow into much bigger tree, with small leaves, and roots deep enough to tap the water reserves in the soil,
continues to put out new leaves and grow.
On some of the palmyra trees the fruits do not grow fully, they remain small and dry and only half ripen. This for a tree that sends out roots 40 feet or more deep. Fruit bats have chewed on some of the fruits on this tree.
At many places moisture is present, fairly close to the surface, as seen by the recent activity of these termites on a fallen palmyra leaf.
The vetiver, planted about 9 months earlier, but with insufficient water, haven’t had a chance to grow well. Now they have dried out, their leaves bleached white by the sun. A little bit of green remains on some of them, which is no surprise as they have roots that are long, and grow down vertically.
This grass, promoted heavily by the International Vetiver Network, is not that popular in its place of origin. It is used mostly for erosion control, the extract from the fragrant roots is used as a perfume base. This hardy grass should revive with the first rains.
The cashew, adapted to the dry weather, holds its ground. But out in this region, it has failed to thrive, producing little or no fruit.
An abandoned nest, with the young ones fledged, sits on a Prosopsis juliflora tree. Probably a babbler’s nest.
Prosopsis, was promoted by various organizations as a fuel wood tree, with funding from Scandinavian countries. It was planted extensively in lake beds. Hardy, difficult to uproot once established, its pods are eaten by cattle, and that helps it spread. It destroys bio-diversity since not much thrives next to it.
In the foreground of this one however, a Cissus quadrangularis vine climbs up the tree.
A iron rich rock, sits heating up in the sun. Pockmarked with vesicles, a reminder of powerful forces in the distant past.
A wasp flits by in the sand. About an inch long, a body with a metallic sheen, it digs the soil, either looking for bugs, or for moist soil to build a nest. This one makes a loud sound almost like the rustle of the wings of a big grasshopper while flying.
Another thorny tree with white bark, is thriving, putting out creamy white blossoms.
Three black ibises land in the dry grass, looking for bugs to eat. These birds, unknown in this region 30 years back, are now quite
common. They do occasionally nest in the palmyra trees. Their head is red, and the wings have a white patch.
They possibly eat the geckos like this one, hard to make out from the dry cashew leaves, red soil, and dry grass. Their other prey, frogs and toads, are less in abundance.
The black drongos, with their forked tails, catch grasshoppers in mid flight. They are a useful pest control in natural farming.These
brave birds, using their expertise in aerial acrobatics, can be seen annoying and chasing away much larger birds.
The peacocks are resting in the shade of the lemon trees. Their feathers have fully regrown. But they are wary of human presence, and shy away from the camera.
A gypsy comes by to drink water from the water tank. With metal meshes, and a small sling, he is out hunting for quails. Well camouflaged in the dry surroundings, the quail quickly shoot out from their resting place, when disturbed. In-spite of their rapid initial flight, they do not fly far, or too long. Quite common, they can be seen running around on the ground, trailed by young ones during the breeding season. The gypsy opens up this jacket to show two live quail. Scanning the fields around, he says he hasn’t seen many of those. These will be sold to restaurants, or people, for about 150 rupees a pair.