In praise of Nature…

Nothing gives one more enthusiasm in the process of writing or researching than true appreciation… Over the last few years I have documented researched and presented data about the flora and fauna of the ‘Kalatope Wildlife Sanctuary’ located in Chamba district of Himachal. As a mark of blog appreciation, I was nominated for ‘The Versatile Blogger’ award by a fellow blogger….. Now it is not exactly the ‘Booker Prize‘ but in blogger’s terms it is a mark of appreciation and I gratefully appreciate this token of praise… though I know that I am not really a blogger… at best a documentator and enthusiast…. and that the beauty of this collection is not really a credit to me but to the vast amount of bio-diversity present in this small area… Soooo… the award of …


But in order to accept this praise (even in proxy) I have to fulfil four conditions….

A) Thank the person who nominated you and link back to them in your post…


Thank you very much Averil Gomes of  The Cook, The Baker and The Clay Boy Maker for honouring me… 🙂

B) Share 7 things about yourself…

I love…

  1. Fungi
  2. Flowers
  3. Butterflies
  4. Moths
  5. Beetles
  6. Birds
  7. and the forests with all it’s bounties of nature… (and hope they will all be added to this blog…)

C) Pass the award on to 15 bloggers…

Now this is the difficult one… However there is no rule that I have to do it all in one day and I will take my time filling up these fifteen names… Meanwhile the first four of these are…

Space Coast Wildflowers – Wayne Matchett

Hort Log

nature blah blah – Rivu Ghorai

D) Contact the bloggers I have chosen to let them know that they have been selected!…

Thanks to all those who have contributed in collecting the data presented in this blog and I hope I will be able to provide a useful guide for those who visit this sanctuary…


Checklist of the Butterflies of Kalatope Wildlife Sanctuary

A list of all the butterflies I could photograph during 2011 in the Kalatope Wildlife Sanctuary. There were a few more (not on this list) that I could not photograph, but I had observed them…. maybe in the coming year I would be able to photograph them….

These photographs are listed according to their Families followed by the Latin names and lastly giving their common names.

Clicking on anyone of them leads to the Family photograph gallery page.


Hesperiidae, Celaenorrhinus pulomaya, Multispotted Flat

Hesperiidae, Pseudocoladenia dan, Fulvous pied flat

Hesperiidae, Pseudoborbo bevani, Bevan’s Swift

Hesperiidae, Choaspes benjaminii, Indian awlking


Papilionidae, Byasa polyeuctes, Common Windmill

Papilionidae, Graphium cloanthus, Glassy Bluebottle

Papilionidae, Papilio machaon, Common Yellow Swallowtail

Papilionidae, Papilio bianor polyctor, Common Peacock (male)

Papilionidae, Papilio bianor polyctor, Common Peacock

Papilionidae, Papilio protenor, Spangle


Pieridae, Aporia leucodice, Himalayan Blackvein

Pieridae, Belenois aurota, Pioneer

Pieridae, Colias fieldii, Dark Clouded Yellow

Pieridae, Delias belladonna, Hill Jezebel

Pieridae, Eurema hecabe, Common Grass Yellow

Pieridae, Gonepteryx rhamni, Common Brimstone

Pieridae, Pieris brassicae, Large Cabbage White

Pieridae, Pieris canidia, Indian Cabbage White

Pieridae, Pontia daplidice, Peak White


Lycaenidae, Arhopala dodonaea, Pale Himalayan Oakblue

Lycaenidae, Arhopala ganesa, Tailless Bushblue

Lycaenidae, Arhopala rama, Dark Himalayan Oakblue

Lycaenidae, Aricia agestis, Brown Argus

Lycaenidae, Celastrina huegelii, Large Hedge Blue

Lycaenidae, Dodona durga, Common Punch

Lycaenidae, Dodona eugenes, Tailed Punch

Lycaenidae, Euchrysops cnejus, Gram blue

Lycaenidae, Everes argiades, Tailed Cupid

Lycaenidae, Heliophorus androcles, Green Sapphire

Lycaenidae, Heliophorus bakeri, Western Blue Sapphire

Lycaenidae, Heliophorus brahma, Golden sapphire

Lycaenidae, Heliophorus sena, Sorrel Saphire

Lycaenidae, Lampides boeticus, Pea blue

Lycaenidae, Leptotes plinius, Zebra blue

Lycaenidae, Lycaena pavana, White bordered copper

Lycaenidae, Neozephyrus birupa, Fawn hairstreak

Lycaenidae, Prosotas nora, Common Lineblue

Lycaenidae, Rapala nissa, Common Flash

Lycaenidae, Talicada nyseus, Red pierrot

Lycaenidae, Zizeeria karsandra, Dark Grass blue

Lycaenidae, Zizina otis, Lesser Grass Blue


Nymphalidae, Aglais cashmirensis, Indian Tortoiseshell

Nymphalidae, Argyreus hyperbius, Indian Fritillary

Nymphalidae, Ariadne merione, Common Castor

Nymphalidae, Athyma opalina, Himalayan Sergent

Nymphalidae, Aulocera saraswati, Striated satyr

Nymphalidae, Aulocera swaha, Common satyr

Nymphalidae, Callerebia annada, Ringed Argus

Nymphalidae, Callerebia nirmala, Common Argus

Nymphalidae, Childrena childreni, Large Silverstripe

Nymphalidae, Cyrestis thyodamas, Common Map

Nymphalidae, Euploea mulciber, Striped Blue Crow

Nymphalidae, Hipparchia parisatis, White-edged rockbrown

Nymphalidae, Junonia almana, Peacock pansy

Nymphalidae, Junonia hierta, Yellow Pansy

Nymphalidae, Junonia iphita, Chocolate Pansy

Nymphalidae, Junonia orithiya, Blue Pansy

Nymphalidae, Kaniska canace, Blue Admiral

Nymphalidae, Lasiommata schakra, Common Wall

Nymphalidae, Lethe rohria, Common Treebrown

Nymphalidae, Lethe sidonis, Common Woodbrown

Nymphalidae, Lethe verma, Straight-Banded Treebrown

Nymphalidae, Libythea lepita, Common Beak

Nymphalidae, Libythea myrrha, Club Beak

Nymphalidae, Melanitis leda, Common evening Brown

Nymphalidae, Neptis mahendra, Himalayan Sailer

Nymphalidae, Neptis sappho, Common glider

Nymphalidae, Parantica sita, Chestnut tiger

Nymphalidae, Phalanta phalantha, Common Leopard

Nymphalidae, Polyura athamas, Common nawab

Nymphalidae, Pseudergolis wedah, Tabby

Nymphalidae, Sephisa dichroa, Western courtier

Nymphalidae, Symbrenthia lilaea, Common Jester

Nymphalidae, Vanessa indica, Indian Red Admiral

Nymphalidae, Vanessa cardui, Painted Lady

Nymphalidae, Ypthima nareda, Large Threering

Nymphalidae, Ypthima nikaea, West Himalayan Five-ring

Nymphalidae, Ypthima sakra, Himalayan Five-ring

A wild tale (tail)….

Wishes do come true sometimes….!! Don’t they..??

Recently, I was gifted a new camera… like a dream come true… Good zoom capabilities.. nothing very fancy but at the same time just about right for my amateurish capabilities…

Early next morning, I woke up with a hope of getting some good wildlife photographs. Creeping out of the house silently, I went out to try my luck… suddenly I heard the clicking sound of a ‘Grey Goral‘ a wild goat-antelope (Naemorhedus goral)…..

Usually the Goral (which has very sharp hearing) would be wary and bound off at the slightest sound. Even the sound of a camera 200 metres away is enough to warn it. And as luck would have it .. I saw it as soon as I stepped out of my house… but true to it’s capabilities, it heard my camera’s sound and with a snort it bounded off down the steep slope below our house… with a curse I went around trying to locate it.. but, it was of no use…

I came back dejected and was about to go in the house when I spotted another one bounding down the slope.. quick as a flash I whipped up the camera and took a photo.. my hands were still not very steady with the camera (it is rather heavy for a point-and-shoot) but with the good zooming capabilities I could get a clear shot even at that distance…. I was PLEASED… !! Till now I had never managed to get a good photo of a Goral…

By this time it had bounded down the slope… I sneaked ahead hoping to catch another sight of it when I heard a rustle below me in the bushes… and I saw it there hiding behind the barberry bushes… it was a baby Goral…

Seeing me it ran off towards the other end of the field and I thought that I had lost it… for Gorals are very fast and can jump off a steep slope without a thought and disappear really fast… but then it stopped and turned back as if in answer to my prayers…. for the next ten minutes I stood there mesmerised watching it’s antics where it stomped it’s feet as if to warn me to stay away and tried to appear menacing with its clicking sound (which actually sound like hiccups)… finally we parted ways.. it going to it’s wild domain and me back to my lair…

Thankfully I did manage to remember to take a few photographs.. and as I returned back home.. I did remember that sometimes wishes are answered….

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Lichens.. and Fungi.. March

The world of Lichens and fungi is quite fascinating… especially since I know that the species found in these particular parts of Himalayas have not really been recorded…. Makes me feel like an ‘Explorer’, discovering new things… Of course till now I cannot say that I have really discovered anything new since most of what I have found has been recorded somewhere or the other in the world…. But in the field of Fungi especially, the Mycologists are reorganising the taxonomical structure, since the introduction of genome mapping they had to re-structure the whole thing.. and what were till now a part of one family, find themselves assigned to another family together…

Discina, polypores, Phycomyces, Metatrichia, Sarcoscypha, Rhizopogon, Hypoxylon, Lycogala, Myxomycota, Schizophyllum commune, Astraeus, Panellus, Ramalina, Agrocybe, Xylaria, Tramates, Auricularia, Lichens and fungi… will remain just tongue twisters and mysteries till seen in reality for the beauty they possess… (although some of it might require a microscope)… And someday, I may be able to lay my hands on a microscope and be able to precisely list what are the species found here…. Who knows what all we might……

Colours of March….

It has been quite a while since I managed to get in an update on my blog… Firstly, the spring is here and every spare moment is spent in the forests.. secondly as a layman to identify wild flowers is not an easy thing, since I do not know anything about the families of plants and their characteristics and there are no specific field guides available for the areas of Dalhousie or Chamba region. On the whole it is a great learning experience and did make me appreciate the nature around me much more. The medicinal uses of these plants have been given separately on the page of ‘Wildflowers in March‘.


I have done a lot of searching on the internet and of course a lot of help through the members of the Google group ‘Efloraofindia’, especially mentionable are Dr. Gurcharan Singh, Shri Tanay Bose, Shri Pankaj Kumar, Amit Chauhan and the other members of the forum.


Foraying in the forest has become a regular affair for us, especially now that the spring is here, flowers blooming, trees budding, fungi mushrooming, pleasant breezes, bubbling brooks, what can one ask for except a clear spring day, a little food to quell the pangs of hunger and the sight of woods to ramble around…

During the week.. caught up in between the work and school schedules, it is not possible to really look carefully for the hidden treasures of nature. But, come weekend we run off into the forest, delighting in it’s splendours… peering into bushes, jumping over the fallen trees, studying the various plants and delighting in every new leaf or flower announcing the spring, but wait….. careful….

The last weekend, when we just started out for our walk.. we were surprised to see a reptile snoozing in the sun, not at all budging at our approach… While not exactly squeamish, but my nature skills are definitely confined to watching.. and .. not teasing animals.. especially snakes… Rather early for them to be coming out, I had thought, since the snows have barely melted a week back… but there it lay, in front of me, peacefully snoozing…. a Gloydius himalayanus… or as it is known commonly as the ‘Himalayan pit viper’…

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We have often come across this species during our ramblings in the forest. This year we have sighted it sooner than in the last few years, almost as soon as the snow melted. Generally very shy and will sooner retrace into it’s hiding place rather than attack, however, I have often heard of grass-cutters or loggers being bitten. The bite of the ‘Himalayan pit viper’ is not very poisonous and the local doctors generally give a ‘Tetnus’ injection and put the patient under observation for a few days. But, sometimes it can cause swelling and blackening of the area where bitten, but generally gets better within a week or two. Till today I have not heard of anyone dying of a snake bite around our parts.

While I have not found any official records of ‘Himalayan Pit vipers’ in the Chamba region of Himachal Pradesh, India.. but we have used ‘The Book of Indian Reptiles & Amphibians’ by J.C.Daniel to help us identify it.. as far as the locals are concerned.. all snakes are described as ‘Keeda’.. which would literally mean a worm..

the lost wisdom….

When I started collecting the data about the flowers of Kalatope-Khajjiar Wildlife sanctuary, I found various interesting facts about them. The most amazing were about the medicinal uses of the plants. In fact, most of the plants, I found in the sanctuary, were either used medicinally or were edible.

The two flowers I had written aboutPrinsepia utilis’ and Daphne bholua var. glacialis’ in my last post, also as it turned out, had traditional medicinal uses in Nepal.

The oil from the seed of ‘Prinsepia utilis’, is applied externally as a treatment for rheumatism and muscular pain caused by fatigue and also applied to the forehead and temples in the treatment of coughs and colds. The fruit is also used in Chinese medicine. Reference.

The juice of the roots, of ‘Daphne bholua’, combined with molasses, is used in the treatment of fevers and intestinal problems and a decoction of it’s bark is used to treat fevers. The leaves are also crushed and used for sinusitis.

Amazing….!! But the disturbing fact is that people are leaving this knowledge of their ancestors and relying more and more upon the antibiotic medicine, leading to more complications than cure…..

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