Post walk Write up - IIT Photowalk - Feb 2nd

Monday, February 17, 2014
A brilliant write up by Mr.Rangarathanam 
        What do early birds eat? If it is worms, do those poor things have to pay a penalty for getting up early? A group of us, numbering around 27, decided to find out the answer to the above question by making first-hand observations. The venue we chose for the exercise was IIT-M which, with a campus cordoned off from city's chaos, has a sufficiently large acreage to support nature's life-forms alongside ambitious attempts that seek to tame technologies.

          On 2nd February 2014 at 5AM, my cab having duly deposited me at the IN-gate of the IIT campus, I found that the first-person to arrive was already assiduously aiming his camera at the gate, using available light and aperture values. Within 15 minutes most of the group arrived and the neat row of parked vehicles was a sight to behold. Noel Prashant, the facilitator arrived to help us with getting the valid passes without which we would have been trespassers.
Photograph by Gowtham.
          Formalities at the gate completed, we drove down to the Central Lecture Theatre, in a slow and majestic cavalcade. Parking our vehicles, we set out on foot towards the action spots. As I walked down the wooded grounds and jogged down the memory lane at the same time, a pleasant surprise was in store for me in the form of an all night/all day cafeteria, a facility I sorely missed during my excursions into the campus in the distant past. While we, the early watchers of early birds refreshed ourselves with a cup that warmed our gullet, we noticed that the place was populated with late night book-worms with an intellect larger than bird-brains and sharper than their beaks that would enjoy the cocoon of campus life till the interviews that would give them wings.
          We got into position on the very edge of the marshy expanse even before the first rays of the Sun shot up in the sky. Squatting, standing, strolling hither and thither, striving to cut through the thicket of bushes one and all became busy straining their eyes through the viewfinder to systematically sample and captureimages of life-forms. One and all except one, as Muthukumaran simply sauntered around delivering hispunchlines with a flourish! Small and speedy birds, charming butterflies, interesting insects all kept the photographers busy for what was a fairly long session.

Photograph by Gowtham. 
Moving towards the lake area, which was the other region marked for our visit, we came across an open clearing that was the preserve of deers. A few spotted deers and a graceful black buck grazing on grass provided us with photographic fodder. We passed on and soon entered the walkway to the lake. While the security there busied himself with calling his superiors to ascertain our bonafides, a couple of his seniors presented themselves and informed him that we had the requisite permissions. Upon which he gave us helpful tips on how not to drown ourselves and allowed us to move on. Not much clearing around the lake that would enable one to walk all along its bank, so we made good of whatever opportunity was there, before winding up.
Photograph by Ashok N Puliyerengi

          Breakfast at canteen, a much improved fare from what I had seen in my previous visits long ago, and we were back to our vehicles. An attempt at head count, to ensure we weren't leaving any new specimen behind, saw more than one member vying for the same number. We reinvented the ring counter to resolve that conflict and moved on to the introductions routine. The bio-data diversity was as interesting as any biodiversity model and Hasan Ali competed with Muthukumaran to provide the punch lines. Next it was time for a group photograph with Senthil doing the honors. I suppose that while our group picture presents us as birds of a feather, our individual pictures would showcase that we don't share a herd mentality. Though it was a brief window of opportunity, I am sure it did a lot in helping us hone our skills.
Photograph by Gowtham. 
  Thanks a lot Navaneeth, a man of seasoned skills, Dinesh who walked lot of kilometers to cover the extra mile, Noel of indefatigable energies, Muthukumaran in-charge of punchlines and munch lines, Dr.Bipasha who waded through the crazy Luz traffic to drop me near my home and all the other group members who made it an enjoyable event. On the way back home, just about to exit Adyar bridge we noticed a group of unfamiliar birds hovering in and out of sight above the parapet wall. Hmm... any photo-walk the set of memories of missed opportunities outnumber the pictures procured with dint of one's effort!
 Photograph by Dinesh kumar
          So what is the answer to question we asked in the beginning? We still don't have one, but in the interests of poetic justice let us believe that it is the worms fattened too much with late-night revelry that get eaten!

Another write up by Shyamantak Chatterjee
This being only my third trip with CTC overall, I was still not used to waking up early on a Sunday morning. Three sets of alarms helped in that regard. With half-open eyes, I reached the IIT entrance at 5 pm. It was dark and the street lights were trying their best to eke out a path for the infrequent visitors to the campus, so early in the morning.

Photograph by Shyamantak.
The numbers started rising as the clock neared the hour mark. As soon as the group looked large enough, we proceeded to the canteen to start the day with a cup of tea or coffee (sponsored by Dinesh, many thanks!) before we headed off to work our lenses. As we were walking towards the marsh, our first spot for the day, dawn was breaking and the birds were starting to make themselves heard. A huge expanse of trees rising silently out of the water gave the location an eerie appearance, and the soft morning light gave it an impressive touch.

Having made new friends, or having met up with old ones, everyone cheerily looked for a spot to get some good shots. Tripods were unraveled and lenses were mounted. Then followed a couple of hours of bending, crouching and stretching to make a perfect frame followed by numerous clicks of the silver button. Birds started making appearances and so did out-of-place objects on the marsh. Scouting for a location wasn't very difficult, and with a few tips from the seasoned people out there, it was a wonderful experience of creating photos.

Photograph by Shyamantak.
After the marsh, we were to head out to a lake that was a short walk away from the marsh. Many a stranger turned a curious eye to the horde of people who were chatting cheerfully among themselves, and stopping to shoot whatever that took their fancy, so early on a Sunday morning. The sun was now beating down and the environment became bright, lined with carefree black bucks, tiny squirrels, energetic birds and lazy bugs, among others.
Once everyone was sure they'd covered almost all possible opportunities, we decided to head back and satisfy our shrinking stomachs.

Photograph by Shyamantak.
People gelled further over a quick breakfast; and a short walk later, everyone gathered in a circle to introduce themselves. This one never goes down straight and quite obviously, the introductions were interleaved with comments and quips from the rest of the gathering. We also got an insight into the trials and pitfalls of organizing something like this on this grand a scale. The campus was pristine, the people were fun and the walk brought a sense of energy geared both towards photography and well being, as this location was indeed poles apart from the madness of the beating city outside those walls.
Special thanks to Navanee, Noel and everyone else for making this a wonderful experience. Hoping to see you guys soon!
The complete list of sightings inside the campus by Mr.Gowtham is below.


1.     Purple Swamp hen(Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio))
2.     Rufous Treepie (Dendrocitta vagabunda)
3.     Paradise Flycatcher (Terpsiphone paradisi)
4.     Purple Sunbird (Cinnyris asiaticus)
5.     Crimson-breasted  Barbet or Coppersmith (Megalaima haemacephala)
6.     Asian Koel(Eudynamys scolopaceus)
7.     Greater Coucal or Crow Pheasant (Centropus sinensis)
8.     Spotted Dove (Spilopelia chinensis) 
9.     Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea)
10.   Pond Heron or Paddybird (Ardeola grayii)
11.   Bronze-winged Jacana (Metopidius indicus) 
12.   Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)
13.   Asian Palm Swift (Cypsiurus balasiensis)
14.   Red-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus cafer)
15.  White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis)
16.  Blue-tailed Bee-eater (Merops philippinus)
17.  Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava)
18.  Eurasian Golden oriole (Oriolus Oriolus)
19.  Black Drongo (Dicrurus macrocercus) Immature
20.  Black-Rumped Flameback (Dinopium bengalense)
21.  Rose-ringed Parakeet (Psittacula krameri)
22.  Jungle Babbler (Turdoides striata)
23.   Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis)
24.  Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) 
25.  Little Cormorant (Microcarbo niger)

Bugs and butterflies

1.     Striped Tiger (Danaus genutia)
2.     Blue Tiger (Tirumala limniace)
3.     Brown Damselfly(to be identified)
4.     Blue Damselfy (to be identified)
5.     Coromandel marsh dart Ceriagrion coromandelianum
6.     Hand Maiden Moth
7.     Jewel Bug


1.     Black Buck
2.     Spotted Deer
3.     Mongoose

His work from the walk can be found below.



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