The fire that raged through the lake on the 16th of March almost killed our spirit. By burning several of our trees, it had made a mockery of our effort to increase the green cover in the area. The sun’s heat, rapidly evaporating the water in the lake, sapped our enthusiasm as well. Whatever little water was present was getting covered with the Salvinia Molesta. Our many efforts to mobilize skilled labour to remove the Salvinia were making no headway. Attempts to get more residents to strengthen our effort drew a blank as well and only our regular volunteers attended our recent assessment meeting. Despite all these, we couldn’t throw up our hands in despair. Not yet at least. Not while our trees and shrubs are growing so well. Not while our resident birds are, well, still resident.
We got our gardeners to water the plants every day buying a tanker load of water every three or four days (we still do not have a reliable water source at the lake) in the hope of reviving them and they did! The ground around the trees may be black and the few dried leaves cling obstinately to the branches but new leaves are sprouting!! Fresh, green and tiny but spelling hope and promise of a new beginning.
Flame of the Forest sprouting new leaves
Two trees, the identity of which had puzzled us resolved the issue once and for all by flowering for the first time. The trumpet shaped yellow coloured flower tinged with honey brown is unmistakably Gmelina arborea (Shivani in Kannada, Gamhar in Hindi). The other is the Tabebuia rosea (Pink Trumpet Tree), and there are two of them growing tall in the corner near the encroachment, adjacent the main road from Brigade Millennium.
Gmelina arborea (yellow flowers on tree) and Bougainvillea (pink flowers)
Today morning, birder Srinivas called excitedly to say that while passing by he’d spotted a Painted Stork in the lake. What? Despite the little water and the salvinia? This had to be seen to be believed. We rushed to the lake and what do you know? There was indeed one big Painted Stork foraging for fish! Giving him/her stiff competition were a large sized Egret (Intermediate?) and a Grey Heron.
Three large birds – Painted Stork, Intermediate Egret, Grey Heron