Soon, I was pulled out in the name of a 'night trek'.....Deepak, Sandeep, Sunand & me went up to one of the Kodachaadri peaks. I was dragging my feet. Lot of moonlight, outlines of distant hills, a valley, grasslands and forests. We reached the top, and lied down on a carry mat, and starred at the sky. A clear sky, the brightness of the moon, kept some stars away, but still it was breathtaking, it was midnight, and Orion - the hunter - was right above. We watched amazed, and asked questions over-awed, "What if a star falls on us ?"
(pic, flicked from the web)
Encyclopedia Britanica article on snakes
The trek began around 10ish. Look at these snow clad leaves. I was amazed. After closer scrutiny realised it some fungus deposit on dying leaves.
Western Hill Catmont. Flowers pollinated by bees, wasps & ants [Isaac].
Thats amazing, for a lot of flowers evolve to have a specific species pollinate their flowers.
As the gang caught their breaths, after the steep & labourious climb down from Kodachaadri. We reached a eatery, and were awaiting 'Puttu'. Meanwhile, I went out to explore a small path that beckoned. And as I stepped into thick vegetation, I could see a skink rush away, and I lost sight of it. The next half an hour, I waited.......at some point it came out......the rustling of the leaves was a dead give away. Importantly, you need to maintain the silence, as you move, spot it, peer thru light tunnels in the dark forests. Little Skink: Mabuya macularia. Skinks the largest of all lizard families, with over 1,300 species feed on plant material & insects.
These bright colored fruits(?) were sticking out of the ground. I find them quite fascinating, have no clue what they are. The small plants closeby seemed to be associated with it. They were found close to a stream (which had leaches), alongside a unused jeep track.
Dense forest. Trees. Climbers. It was bewildering. And some of them pretty tall. Herz one. Sunand & Deepak (left to right).
As we walked towards kollur, the new year celebrations started hitting us. Here the road was turned into a greeting card!
A lovely trek. Perfect way to end the year. Would like to go back, with a smaller group, and examine the flora-fauna closely. Thanks KMA.Sources:
The Book of Indian Reptiles & Amphibians: J. C. Daniel
Common Indian wild flowers: Isaac Kehimkar
The Private Life of Plants: David Attenborough
And, Karthikeyan, Ullas, & Joby.