Wildlife

Morni Wildlife (Herpetofauna): Striped-burrowing frog

Striped-burrowing frog/Greenstripe frog (Cyclorana/Litoria alboguttata)- is a frog of the woodlands and grassy patches generally seen in temporary pools and around ditches. It has a distinctive yellow-green glossy stripe that runs down the middle of the back. Equally prominent is a dark streak from the snout through the eye, ear disc, over shoulder to beyond […]

November 13, 20140 Comments

Morni Wildlife: Barking deer

Barking deer/ Common or Indian Muntjac/ Kakar is one of the smallest deer (about 2′ at the shoulder) with a long and flexible body and very short legs. Body is golden-brown, lower parts are creamy-white including upper portion of its long tail that is carried erect when the deer is running. A glimpse of the […]

January 31, 20130 Comments

Morni Wildlife: Nilgai

Nilgai/ Blue Bull/ Roz/ Rojh (Boselaphus tragocamelus Pallas) is the largest antelope of Asia, with the adult weighing over 250 kg. Adult males are blue-grey with thin black legs (having transverse white bands) and white markings/ spots on ears and cheeks. Nilgai is nearly 5 feet high at the shoulder and the body slopes sharply to the […]

January 30, 20130 Comments

Morni Wildlife: Himalayan Grey Goral

Himalayan Grey Goral (Nemorhaedus goral) belongs to the sub-family of a goat-antelopes, being intermediate between the goat and the antelope, and is a little over 2 feet high at the shoulder. It weighs about 40 kg. The head with a solid, heavy skull is goat-like. So is the short tail. The short legs and the […]

January 30, 20130 Comments

Morni Wildlife: Indian Wild Boar

Indian Wild Boar (Sus Cristatus Wagn.) is a relatively large boar that can reach 3 feet height at the shoulder and can weigh nearly 150 Kg. The coat is black-grey and is sparse. The mane is heavier. The well-developed tusks in males curve outwards and project from the mouth. The lower tusk is typically 6 […]

January 28, 20130 Comments

Morni Wildlife: Sambar deer

Sambar deer– a large deer that can exceed 5 feet height at the shoulder and can weigh over 500 kg! Females are generally smaller. Males have large, rugged antlers nearly 4 feet long that are shed annually in summer months. The antlers are valued for ornamental purposes. The locals in gujjar-villages of Morni foothills use it […]

January 27, 20130 Comments

Morni Wildlife: Indian Flying Fox

Indian Flying Fox/ Greater Indian Fruit Bat (Pteropus giganteus) is a very large bat of the forests that typically lives in colonies close to a large water body. The bat weighs around 2 Kgs, is over a foot in length and its wing span can exceed 4 feet making it very conspicous in flight. The […]

January 26, 20132 Comments

Morni Wildlife (Crustacean): Fresh Water Crab

A Fresh Water Crab seen in a stream at Bharal, Morni foothills

November 28, 20122 Comments

Morni Wildlife: Yellow-throated Marten

Yellow-throated Marten (Martes flavigula) a brightly coloured marten of Asia with a powerful build. It is the largest marten of the Old World (weighing about 5 kg) and is about 5′ long with the long shiny black tail constituting 2/3 of the overall body length.  Its fur is a mix of golden-yellow-brown, black and white. The […]

July 22, 20120 Comments

The Lost Art of Reading Pugmarks

A ‘Pugmark’ literally means the mark left by the ‘pug’ (Hindi for ‘foot’) of the wild animal. The trackers ‘read’ the pugmark to gather information about the species, sex, age and size of the animal as also the direction and speed of movement. In the days of the British Raj, the tribal trackers (particularly the […]

July 18, 20126 Comments

Morni Wildlife Census- The Methodology

Every year the Haryana Forest Department conducts a census of wild animals in the State in technical collaboration with the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun.While conducting the census in natural forests like Morni the area is divided into beats, 10-15 Sq. Km in size and some beats are selected as a representative sample for the […]

July 14, 20120 Comments

Morni Wildlife (Herpetofauna): Kashmir Rock Agama

Kashmir Rock Agama (Laudakia tuberculata)- a common, medium-sized (5-6 inch), brownish lizard  found in the Himalayas. It is terrestrial and lives in holes and crevices and stone walls. The stone ‘dangahs’ or retaining walls in Morni have these olive-brown lizards living in the holes left as an outlet for releasing the percolated rainwater.  Kashmie agama is omnivorous and […]

April 30, 20123 Comments

Morni Wildlife: Rhesus Macaque

Rhesus macaque/ Rhesus monkey (Macaca mulatta) is greyish brown in colour with a pink face that is clear of fur. It is about two-feet in size with a tail less than a foot long.  It is diurnal and lives in trees and on the ground. It is mostly herbivorous and feeds largely on fruit (often […]

April 23, 20120 Comments

Morni Wildlife (Herpetofauna): Indian Skipper Frog

Indian Skipper Frog/Skittering Frog (Euphlyctis cyanophlyctis) is a common South Asian acquatic frog that can be seen swimming in pools of stagnant water, floating close to the vegetation at the edge, with the eyes above the water. It ‘skitters’ away noisly when disturbed, skipping over the water surface and may dive if provoked further. Emperor […]

April 15, 20120 Comments

Morni Wildlife: Golden Jackal

Golden Jackal/ Asiatic Jackal (Canis aureus) resembles a wolf in overall appearance but is smaller and lighter with shorter legs and tail, a narrower muzzle and an elongated body. The adult is about 3 feet in length, a foot-and-a-half high at the shoulder and weighs around 10 Kg.The fur is buff coloured on the shoulders, […]

April 10, 20120 Comments

Morni Wildlife: Leopard

Leopard (Panthera pardus) an agile and stealthy predator with powerful jaws and can run at a speed of 60 KM/HR. Its the smallest amongst the four ‘Big Cats’, smaller than the lion, tiger and jaguar but can hunt big animals because of its large jaw. It has short powerful legs and can climb trees while […]

March 30, 20120 Comments

Morni Wildlife: Grey Langur

Grey langurs are largely grey (with a touch of yellow) with a black face and ears. The typical male is about 2 -1/2 feet in length, with a longer tail. A big langur can weigh over 20 kg.The langurs walk on all fours though they sit with the body held upright. Equal amount of time […]

December 6, 20110 Comments

Morni Wildlife

Morni hills were a popular location for hunting in the 18th and 19th centuries. Ahmad Shah Abdali, the Afghan invader is said to have camped at Pinjore for tiger hunting in the Morni hills in 1765. Col. R .R. Gillespie the legendary braveheart of the British Indian Army, is said to have camped at the […]

October 16, 20110 Comments

Morni Wildlife: Common Indian Monitor

Common Indian Monitor/ Bengal Monitor (Varanus bengalensis) is a large lizard that can be upto 6 feet in length and can weigh over 7 kg (males being larger and heavier).The mature monitor is light brown/grey with dark spots. The younger monitors are more colourful and banded.The tongue is forked like the snake.The lizard is not […]

October 8, 20110 Comments

Insects

Morni Wildlife (Insects): Golden Dragonfly

Golden Dragonfly- a spectacular ‘gilded’ dragonfly spotted by the Tramp while trekking along the Berwala choe in the Khol-hai-Raitan Wildlife Sanctuary area.

November 14, 20140 Comments

Morni Wildlife (Insects): Six-spotted Green Tiger Beetle

Six-spotted Green Tiger Beetle (Cicindela sexguttata) is a ground beetle of deciduous forests, a little over half-an-inch in length and with long legs. The large white mandibles give the insect a ferocious look (hence the name ‘Tiger’) and help it subdue its prey – caterpillars, ants, spiders etc. This carnivorous beetle can run and fly […]

November 8, 20140 Comments

Morni Wildlife (Insects): Yellow Pansy

Yellow Pansy (Junonia hierta) – is a butterfly seen in open scrub and grasslands. The male has a bright yellow upperside and the forewing has jet black corner with white streaks. The anterior portion of the hind wing is black with a large shiny blue spot. In the female the colours are duller and the […]

November 8, 20141 Comment

Morni Wildlife (Insects): Stinkbug

Erthesina acuminata (common name Stinkbug) is one of the 5000 species of insects of the Pentatomidae family. The bug gets its name from the foul-smelling secretion produced by it when alarmed. The odourous secretion may get transferred to the resting place of the insect such as fruit or leaves of a plant leaving them with […]

November 6, 20140 Comments

Morni Wildlife (Insects): Day flying ‘Tiger-striped’ Moth

Day flying ‘Tiger-striped’ Moth – Episteme adulatrix: A brightly coloured day flying moth with a tiger-striped orange-black abdomen that can easily be confused with a butterfly. The non-clubbed antennae and the stout abdomen are the give-aways that tell you that it’s a moth and not a butterfly. Acknowledgement: The moth was identified by Sh. Sanjay […]

November 5, 20140 Comments

Morni Wildlife (Insects): Indian Tortoiseshell

Indian Tortoiseshell  (Aglais caschmirensis) is a colourful, medium-sized butterfly (wingspan of about 2 inches) that has reddish-orange wings with prominent black and yellow, high contrast ‘zebra’ markings on the forewings and a border of blue-spots on the edges. Its larvae feeds on nettle (urtica). It occurs in the Himalayas from 1000 to 4000 metres. It is difficult to […]

October 31, 20141 Comment

Morni Wildlife (Insects): Northern Spotted Grasshopper

Northern Spotted Grasshopper (Aularches miliaris) – a colourful grasshopper of South and Southeast Asia with dark, glossy green head and thorax and a canary-yellow band on the side. Wings are green with yellow spots. Legs are a metallic blue.  Abdomen is banded in red and black. A heavy and sluggish grasshopper it is capable of […]

October 31, 20141 Comment

Morni Wildlife (Insects): Common Blue Jewel (Damselfly)

Common Blue Jewel (Rhinocypha perforata) is commonly spotted in swift flowing streams in low hills and mountains.

September 3, 20130 Comments

Morni Wildlife (Insects): Blister Beetle

Mylabris pustulata is a large red-orange beetle, over an inch in length with broad black bands. The neck is long and pronounced. It is a species of the family of ‘blister’ beetles and is found in South Asia. The family of ‘blister’ beetles gets its name from the defensive secretion of a toxic chemical that […]

August 29, 20132 Comments

Morni Wildlife (Insects): Lemon Pansy

Lemon Pansy (Junonia lemonias) an active  brown butterfly of the forested Himalayan tracts with prominent peacock eyespot on each wing. It has pale yellow spotting on upper forewing and a number of wavy lines and spots. The markings grow more distinct during the monsoons. References: Butterflies of India, Arun Pratap Singh (2011)

July 27, 20130 Comments

Morni Wildlife (Insects): Common Gull

Common Gull (Cepora nerissa) – a medium-sized butterfly of the dry scrubland, it is found in the Shivaliks upto an elevation of 1200 metres. It is attracted to lantana flowers in Morni and prefers damp sandy patches. Upperwings are white and the upper forewing has has a black terminal border with large white spots. The […]

May 22, 20130 Comments

Morni Wildlife (Insects): Common Emigrant

Common Emigrant (Catopsilia pomona)- found in the Himalayas upto a height of 4000 metres. Found in fields, gardens and scrub. Is common in Morni. Wings are a translucent greenish-yellow. Congregations can be seen mud-puddling on wet soil.   References: Butterflies of India, Arun Pratap Singh (2011)

May 22, 20130 Comments

Morni Wildlife (Insects): Common Castor

Common Castor (Ariadne merione)- is an orange-brown butterfly with zigzag brown lines running across the upper-wings. It has a wingspan of an inch-and-a-half. The larvae feed on the leaves of the Castor (Erandi) shrub and hence the name.

May 17, 20130 Comments

Morni Wildlife (Insects): Yellow Orange Tip

Yellow Orange Tip (Ixias pyrene) – a small yellow-orange butterfly that is common to the dry thorny scrub/ mixed-deciduous forests of the Shivalik hills. Can be generally spotted around the lantana flowers in the Morni hills. The butterfly prefers damp patches and the lantana infested scrub in the vicinity of the numerous water harvesting dams […]

May 17, 20130 Comments

Morni Wildlife (Insects): Indian Cabbage White

Indian Cabbage White (Pieris canidia)- a common black-and-white, Himalayan butterfly that migrates to the hills in summers only to return to the plains with onset of winters. Wings are white with upper fore-wings having black apical margins. Males have a single black spot on the fore-wing while the females have two. It is seen visiting […]

May 16, 20130 Comments

Morni Wildlife (Insects): Black-headed Skimmer

Black-headed Skimmer

April 30, 20130 Comments

Morni Wildlife (Insects): Orange Dragonfly

Orange Dragonfly/Flame Skimmer

April 25, 20130 Comments

Morni Wildlife (Insects): Painted Lady

Painted Lady– Vanessa Cardui (Linnaeus)– found in the Himalayas upto 4500 metres,  prefers forest openings and meadows in high mountains. It feeds on rotting flowers and fruit.  

April 24, 20130 Comments

Morni Wildlife (Insects): Common Mormon

Common Mormon

April 22, 20130 Comments

Morni Wildlife (Insects): Red Dragonfly

Red Dragonfly

August 12, 20120 Comments

Morni Wildlife (Insects): Red and Black Skimmer Dragonfly

Red and Black Skimmer Dragonfly  

July 22, 20120 Comments

Morni Wildlife (Insects): Giant Honey Bee

Apis dorsata is a giant honey bee found in the forested areas of South/ South-east Asia and is about 2 cm in length. Nest consists of a single wax comb suspended  from a high tree branch in an exposed place. The comb is covered by a dense mass of bees in several layers. When disturbed […]

May 17, 20120 Comments

Morni Wildlife (Insects): Paper Wasp

The Tramp has encountered on his treks the ball-like nests of paper wasps that hang menacingly from the high-branches of tall-trees in the Morni forests. While identification is not certain but it seems likely that the paper wasps of Morni are ‘Polistes’. The genus ‘polistes’ are the most common type of ‘paper wasps‘ a type of […]

May 17, 20120 Comments

Morni Wildlife (Arachnids): Giant Crab Spider

Giant Crab Spider/ Golden Huntsman (Olios giganteus) a large light brown spider with a leg span of over 2 inches (females are larger). It gets its name ‘crab’ from its ability to move sideways. It can climb smooth vertical surfaces with ease. A tropical species, it is found in a variety of habitats- under rocks, […]

May 16, 20120 Comments

Environment

Vetiver introduced in Morni – An Experiment Begins

Morni hills are composed of a fragile mix of clay, rocks and boulders and experience heavy erosion during the monsoons. Landslides are common, especially where the natural stability of hill slopes has been disturbed by cutting roads and paths into the hill, rendering the structure unstable. The sudden heavy rainfall towards the end of the […]

July 14, 20139 Comments

Solar Electrification Programme- The Experience in Morni hills

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Government of India launched a scheme for the electrification of remote villages with renewable technologies for which the Central Government would provide 90% financial assistance the balance cost being borne by the concerned nodal agency/ village panchayat. Villages/hamlets that were not to be electrified with the conventional grid […]

July 13, 20132 Comments

Water Harvesting Dam: Dullopur

The earthen dam at Dullopur is located in the foothills of Morni and provides water for irrigating fields lying downstream of the dam. The dam has created a large lake that is tucked away in the hills between the Tirlokpur and Dullopur villages.  

May 14, 2013

Water Harvesting Dam: Muwas

Muwas is a small hamlet that falls under the Sabilpur panchayat and is located deep inside the scrub forest in the foothills of Morni. The village can be accessed by driving along the dry rocky bed of the nadi that flows between Aasrewali and Belwali villages. A large earthen dam has been built across a choe to create a […]

May 14, 20130 Comments

Water Harvesting Dams: Dams near Kamballah-Katli

A series of earthen dams have been built across seasonal choes to create a number of large ponds near Kmballah village that lies on the Parwallah – Tikkar road that links the Tikkar tals directly to Raipur Rani without first having to negotiate the climb to Morni. A dam overlooks the Guga-Marhi temple at the […]

March 11, 20130 Comments

Water Harvesting Dams: Aasrewali Dams

The earthen dam at Aasrewali created a small sized reservoir that initially provided water for fields lying downstream. The irrigation pipes are, however, now buried under silt and the reservoir now serves as a watering-hole for the village cattle and the wildlife. A second, much larger reservoir has been created more recently in the hills […]

June 30, 20121 Comment

Water Harvesting Dams: Lessons from Bharal, Bhoj Mataur

A water harvesting dam was built on the ‘Upali Khala’, a seasonal choe emerging from the Mandana hills near Bharal, a hamlet of Bhoj Mataur falling on the Jalah road. Pipes were laid out to provide water for the fields lying downstream of the dam. As per the locals, the dam got silted in the […]

March 19, 20120 Comments

Vulture Conservation Breeding Centre, Pinjore

The vulture has been associated with death and decay across cultures. The forbidding, ghoulish look of an ugly bald headed bird feeding voraciously on a decaying and foul-smelling carcass is a repelling site. This was probably the reason why the sharp fall in vulture population sometime in early 90s was noticed so late.It was only […]

March 11, 20121 Comment

Water Harvesting Dams: Experience at Bunga

Morni Hills receive an average annual rainfall of 1200 mm and 80% of it is received during the 3 monsoon months. Most of the precious rainwater is lost as run-off and it drains into the Ghaggar and Tangri rivers that originate in these hills. These rivers flow torrentially during the rains causing havoc in Ambala […]

March 7, 20121 Comment

Bir Shikargarh Wildlife Sanctuary

Bir Shikargarh Wildlife Sanctuary is being established over an area of 767 hectares and notice was issued on 28th July 2011 to invite objections/suggestions to the draft notification by the Ministry of Environment and Forests. The area included is situated in the foothills of Morni along the Kaushalya river and has thick Khair forests and […]

March 6, 20121 Comment

Coir pith (organic) manure comes to Morni

The Coir Board has developed the technology to prepare organic manure from composted coir pith. Coir pith is a spongy waste product obtained during the extraction of coir fibre from the husk.The organic manure has excellent water retention capacity, is odourless and is rich in enzymes, nutrients and humus. It enhances aeration and improves the […]

March 5, 20120 Comments

Ban on Plastics in Morni

The Environment Department of the Haryana Government has, vide Notification No. 16/52/2010-Env. dated 3rd February 2010, banned the use of all types of plastic articles such as carry bags (irrespective of thickness and size), plates, cups, tumblers, spoons, forks and straw in Wild Life Sanctuaries and National Parks of Haryana and Gram Panchayat, Morni.It is […]

February 15, 20121 Comment

Green India Mission (2012-23): Hope for Morni?

National Mission for a Green India (GIM) is one of the eight missions under the National Action Plan on Climate Change i.e. our plan to adapt to the impact of the changes in climate and also to reduce the pace of climate change (global warming in simple terms). As world grows warmer the species shall […]

November 3, 20111 Comment

The Morni Forest

The forest of Morni was granted as a jagir to Mir Jafar Ali of Kotaha by the British in 1816 in recognition of the services rendered during the war against the Gurkhas. Thereafter, the Morni ‘ilaqa’ continued to be owned by the descendants of Mir Jafar Ali till 1968 when the Haryana Government started the acquisition of […]

October 16, 20110 Comments

‘Windmills’ of Morni: Generating Clean Power

Solar Technologies set up a 10.2 KW hybrid renewable electric power system at Chakli and Ramsar villages in Morni in partnership with the Government of India. The system consists of two wind turbines that provide 6.6 KW of wind power and solar panels that generate 3.6 kw of solar power. The project was completed in […]

October 11, 20110 Comments

Pheasant breeding centre, Morni

Pheasants are fascinating birds, known for their brilliant plumage and elaborate courtship displays. Whether it is a Khaly pheasant or red jungle fowl, the white peacock or the normal , each is a delight to behold. These beautiful birds also occupy an imprtant niche in nature’s great scheme. Peafowls are the best known members of […]

October 8, 20110 Comments

Khol Hai Raitan Wildlife Sanctuary, Morni

Khol Hai Raitan Wildlife Sanctuary is being established over an area of 4883 hectares and notice was issued on 28th July 2011 to invite objections/suggestions to the draft notification by the Ministry of Environment and Forests. The sanctuary includes the forest covered Shivalik hills bound by NH-73  to the West, Morni-Jallah road to the North, […]

October 8, 20110 Comments

Morni hills

Karoh Peak – the highest point in Morni

Karoh (Kroh) Peak at 1467 metres is the highest peak of the Morni hill range of Haryana. The peak can be reached after a rather sharp trek of about 2 KM along the steep hill path through the dhanis of Churi and Diyothi of Bhoj Darara. One ends up  climbing a vertical distance of nearly […]

September 28, 20140 Comments

Polyhouse farming in Morni Hills

Farmers in the Morni area have of-late started experimenting with Polyhouse farming. A polyhouse is a tunnel like structure of polythene, generally semi-circular in shape that is used for growing plants under controlled conditions. Originally designed to trap the sun’s heat like a greenhouse for growing plants in colder climates, polyhouse farming has today come […]

August 5, 20143 Comments

Pakistani Warplane crashed in Morni Hills in 1971?

It was Sunday, the 3rd of December, 1971. Civil war had been raging in East Pakistan ever since the crackdown in Dhaka on the night of 25th March, 1971 by the Pakistani Army. The leader of the separatist Bangla nationals, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was arrested in the midnight swoop and a violent pogrom was unleashed […]

February 16, 20140 Comments

Police Stations of Morni Ilaqa

The larger Morni ‘Ilaqa’ comprising the Morni Hills, the foothills and the adjoining hill area of Mallah falls within the jurisdiction of three police-stations. The 14 ‘Bhojs’ of Morni hills fall under the Morni Police Post (of Chandimandir Police Station) that is located in the Morni Sub-Tehsil Building next to the Morni Fort. The following Bhojs/ […]

February 14, 20140 Comments

Man-eater of Morni

Man-leopard conflicts in the Morni hills are rare and have been generally restricted over the decades to the occasional cattle-lifting by these cunning, spotted-felines. The laid-back hill dwellers residing in the remote hamlets of Morni ilaqa, have over the centuries, resigned themselves to bearing such losses. The cattle-lifting incidents typically receive little attention from either […]

January 7, 20140 Comments

Demographic profile of voters in Morni

The electoral rolls published by the Chief Electoral Officer of Haryana contain a wealth of demographic details of the adult population of the State. The author has made an effort to extract some of this information pertaining to the Morni ‘ilaqa’ and present it to the readers. The electoral rolls give basic details of voters […]

April 13, 20130 Comments

Deciphering Morni’s PIN Code- 134205

The Postal Index Number (PIN) or PIN Code is a 6 digit code introduced by the Indian Postal Department on 15th August 1972 and is used for numbering of post offices all over the country to assist in the sorting of mail for delivery purpose. The PIN Code today, however, signifies something more than a […]

April 11, 20130 Comments

MNREGA in Morni

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) was enacted in 2005 and is aimed at enhancing the employment opportunities for the rural poor and guarantees a hundred days of wage-employment in a financial year to a rural household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work. The adult members of a household […]

March 19, 20130 Comments

Bhadrakali Temple at Bani

Bani is the site of an ancient village on the Morni-Badiyal road, some 16 KM from Morni. The road to Bani crosses the Sherla tal turning left at the tri-junction with the road to Samlotha and thereafter descends steadily to cross Badiyal and Thana villages to reach Bani, just short of the seasonal nadi (a […]

February 26, 20130 Comments

Fish farming at Tikkar tal

Fish farming is being carried out by private contractors for past many decades at the Morni tals. The lakes of Tikkar tal are treated as ‘public waters’ under the Indian Fisheries Act, 1897 and the Punjab Fisheries Act, 1914. The 40 hectare area of the lakes is leased out for a period of 5 years […]

January 28, 20130 Comments

Geology of Morni hills

Planet Earth can be conceived of as a sphere with several layered shells. An inner ‘solid core’ is surrounded by a liquid ‘outer core’ that is in turn ensconced in a relatively more viscous ‘lower mantle’. The ‘upper mantle’ is more viscous, dense than the lower mantle and this is in turn contained in a […]

January 11, 20131 Comment

Bollywood discovers Morni

A recent suspense thriller ‘2 Nights in Soul Valley’ produced by Pinta & Dehal Productions has been filmed extensively in the untouched forest locales of Morni hills.  The thriller is based on the hair-raising experience of a group of college friends who go for a two-day trek to a remote area in the Himalayas. The […]

November 19, 20121 Comment

Samlasan Devi Temple at Samlotha, Morni

Samlasan Devi Temple is a temple dedicated to the Goddess Durga, atop a hill at village Samlotha some 10 KM from the Morni town. The hill offers a commanding view of the plains of Raipur Rani and the erstwhile Kotaha estate and the ruins of the forts of the Meers at Kotaha and Masoompur. As […]

September 29, 201218 Comments

The Tara trilogy – Morni hills find their way into fiction!

Mahtab Narsimhan, a Toronto based writer from India, has blended figures from Indian mythology with elements of pure fantasy to create a world of magic, intrigue and adventure around Tara and her kid brother Suraj who combat the forces of evil to save their village, Morni. The ‘Tara Trilogy’ is a series of three books- […]

September 24, 20120 Comments

Thakur-dwar temple, Tikkar tal, Morni

A hidden treasure of the Morni hills is the Thakur-dwar temple, a modest structure built at the site of a 10th Century AD temple on the bank of the Tikkar tal lake. The Legend: As per the local legend, the Thakur-dwar temple was built in the ancient times by the Pandavas after Yudhisthir saved his […]

August 14, 20120 Comments

Forest Fires in Morni

The dry scrub forest of the Morni hills experiences devastating fires in the summer months every year. The fires find a mention in the 19th century British gazetteers so the problem is not a recent one. The spread of lantana has, however, aggravated the problem as the bush readily catches fire during the dry season. […]

May 8, 20120 Comments

Classification of Agricultural Land in Morni

P.S. Melvill’s Ambala Settlement Report 1855 presented an interesting classification of agricultural land in Morni with many terms being still in usage with the revenue department. MELVILL’s 19th CENTURY CLASSIFICATION OF AGRICULTURAL LAND IN MORNI KOOLAHOO Land watered from kools (i.e., small water-courses from a stream etc.). Such land was ploughed. BARANEE (OBUR) Land ‘dependent […]

April 23, 20120 Comments

Goga-Marhi Temples of Morni

The Morni hills and the neighbouring countryside is dotted with the numerous ‘Goga-Marhi’ (also Gugga-Marhi) temples. The Goga-Marhi temple is invariably located at the boundary of the village and is typically built like a square white fort with conical towers at each of the four corners. The bare white-washed walls are adorned with paintings of the ‘Goga pir’ […]

April 18, 20121 Comment

Mountain Biking in Morni Hills

Morni Hills are increasingly becoming a popular destination for mountain biking. The serene atmosphere, the challenging gradients with sharp bends and low motorised traffic make the hill track ideal for cycling enthusiasts. Trainees from the ITBP Training Centre at Bhanu and the Indian Army from the Chandimandir Cantonment are frequently seen sweating it out on this challenging track.     […]

October 28, 20110 Comments

Tals of Morni

The Morni hills are off-shoots of the Shivalik range and run in two-parallel ranges from south-east to the north-west. The ranges are divided by the Ghaggar river. To the south-east of the Morni range, the ground is broken by projecting spurs that nestle two-ancient natural lakes, Bhim Tal and Draupti Tal. The lakes are located […]

October 19, 20110 Comments

The Morni Landscape

 

October 7, 20110 Comments

Trees & Shrubs

Trees of Morni: Bahera

Bahera /Behada/Vibhitaka (Fearless in Sanskrit)/Beliric (Terminalia bellerica) is a large deciduous tree of South-East Asia that grows on plains and in lower hills. It has an uneven bluish or ashy-grey bark with longitudinal furrows. It grows to a height of 80-100 feet with a girth of 8-10 feet and is easily recognized from a distance by its […]

May 22, 20160 Comments

Shrubs of Morni: Charming Clematis

Charming Clematis/ Dhanwali धनवाली (Clematis grata) is a vigorous Himalayan climber that bursts into clusters of many small cream-colored fragrant flowers with spreading petals from July to September. The climber is found up to 2500 metres. Leaves are compound – leaflets are 1″ to 3″  long, ovate, lance-shaped, strongly toothed/lobed and hairy beneath.  

November 9, 20140 Comments

Trees of Morni: Curry-leaf

Curry-leaf tree/ Kari patta करी पत्ता (Murraya koenigii) – is a small tree, growing up to 20 feet tall, with aromatic, pinnate leaves with 11-21 leaflets. The plant produces small, white self-pollinating flowers. It bears small, glossy black berries that yield a single, large viable seed. The species is named after the German botanist Johann […]

November 7, 20140 Comments

Shrubs of Morni: Potato tree

Potato tree (Solanum verbascifolium) is a widespread weed of the tropics that originated from the Central American region. The shrub can grow up to 4 to 10 metres tall. A toxic plant that is used to prepare formulations that are used as diuretics and purgatives for treating malaria, leprosy and venereal diseases and for stimulating […]

November 6, 20140 Comments

Trees of Morni: Himalayan Wild Pear

Himalayan Wild Pear /Mehal मेहल /Mol मोल/ Kainth कैंठ (Pyrus pashia) is a small or medium-sized deciduous Himalyan tree found at altitudes of 750 m to 2700 m with lance-like, glossy leaves with serrated edges and glossy brown, table-tennis ball sized, edible fruit covered with raised cream-white pores. The fruit is rich in minerals and ripens in […]

November 5, 20140 Comments

Shrubs of Morni: Glory Lily

Glory Lily/ Fire Lily (Gloriosa superba) is a tender, tuberous rooted, perennial climber that climbs over plants with the aid of tendrils at the ends of leaves. It has large showy, ‘flaming’ yellow-orange-red flowers with 6 large wrinkled petals ensconsed by 6 prominent stamens. Flowers are solitary and open by longitudinal slits in the buds. The […]

September 28, 20140 Comments

Shrubs of Morni: Chhota Kalpa

Indian Borage/ Chhota Kalpa (Trichodesma indicum) – a small, spreading, erect herb with lance-shaped, stalkless hairy leaves,hairy stems and small, 5-lobed white flowers that point downwards when open. Also known as the ‘Starflower’ it belongs to the family of ‘forget-me-nots’ and is believed to have originated in Syria and then spread in the Mediterranean region […]

August 1, 20140 Comments

Shrubs of Morni: Jungli Karonda

Jungli Karonda /Wild Karoda/ जंगली करौंदा (Carissa spinarum) is an erect, thorny shrub with leathery,ovate leaves and forked branches. The leaves exude a toxic, white latex if plucked from the stem. The small, red berries are edible. The thorns can be an inch-and-a-half in length. The star-shaped flowers are white with 5 narrow petals. Jungli […]

March 16, 20145 Comments

Shrubs of Morni: Indian Nightshade

Indian Nightshade/ Poison Berry/Brihatee/Bardhi Kateri (Solanum indicum) is a spreading shrub of open scrub land. Leaves are about 10 cm long . The flowers are purple. The berries are yellow when ripe. The prickly shrub can grow to a height of 1-5 metres. The roots of brihatee are used for preparing Ayurvedic medicines for treating cough, asthma, […]

March 15, 20140 Comments

Shrubs of Morni: Sonkadi

Sonkadi (Pentanema indicum) is a herb of the ‘Sunflower family’ that grows up to 1 metre tall. It has attractive, yellow flower-heads with 12 to 24 ray flowers (petals). Leaves are lance-like and stalkless. It is found on grassy slopes of the Himalayas.

November 25, 20130 Comments

Shrubs of Morni: Philippine Violet

Philippine Violet/ Varjra Danti (Barleria crisata)

November 23, 20131 Comment

Shrubs of Morni: Honey Suckle Mistletoe

Honey Suckle Mistletoe  

November 20, 20130 Comments

Shrubs of Morni: Silver Cockscomb

Silver Cockscomb/Flamingo Feathers (Celosia argentea var. spicata) – an attractive flowering shrub with slender upright stems (up to 2 feet in length) and lance-shaped leaves. The tiny flowers are borne on erect, cylindrical spikes (reminiscent of wheat spikes) that are a glossy silver-white at the base and pink at the top. Is popular as a […]

November 19, 20130 Comments

Trees of Morni: Teak

Teak/Sagwan (Tectona grandis) a large deciduous tree with small, white fragrant flowers and large ovate, papery leaves.  It bears flowers in pannicles during monsoons and small globose fruit thereafter. The tree is leafless during winter months. Timber is hard, durable, termite resistant , with tight grain and good texture.This makes it popular for making furniture. […]

September 12, 20130 Comments

Shrubs of Morni: Lion’s Ear

Lion’s ear/ Christmas candlestick/Bara guma in Hindi (Leonotis nepetifolia)-an erect, tall, stout annual herb that is native to tropical Africa. It is commonly found on roadsides and on degraded land. It can grow upto 3 metres tall and the stems are four-angled. It has whorls of striking lipped orange flowers that are borne in rounded, […]

September 9, 20130 Comments

Shrubs of Morni: Nickernut

Yellow Nicker/ Grey nicker/ Nickernut/ Bonduc nut/ Fever nut /Kantkarej or Kantikaranja in Hindi (Caesalpinia bonduc)- the ‘Nickernut’ is a large, thorny, straggling, leguminous shrub which behaves like a strong woody climber, taking support of trees. Plants generally start as a single stem arising stiffly upright from the ground that curves into a more horizontal direction […]

September 5, 20130 Comments

Trees of Morni: Lead tree

Lead tree/ Subabul (Leucaena leucocephala) is a low, shrub-like, fast growing, thorn-less tropical tree that grows well under sunny conditions. The tree prefers well drained soils. It is drought tolerant as it has deep roots. It can tolerate a wide range of soils – acidic, alkaline, dry-clayey gravely soils. It can grow on sharp slopes. It […]

September 5, 20130 Comments

Shrubs of Morni: Himalayan Mimosa

Himalayan Mimosa/Shiahkanta (Mimosa rubicaulis) is a large straggling prickly shrub of the Himalayas (300 to 2000 metres) that blooms during the monsoons. The globose flowers are an attractive pink that gradually fade to white. Leaves are double-compound, each leaf having about 10 pairs of pinnae, each pinnae having about 20 pairs of pinnules. Pods are […]

September 5, 20130 Comments

Shrubs of Morni: Calamintha (Mint family)

Calamintha – a shrub of the mint (Lamiaceae) family that is native to Europe, Asia and America. There are several species and sub species in the genus ‘Calamintha’. Calamintha nepeta (Lesser Calamint) is a beautiful Mediterranean perennial shrub with upright stems and small, glossy green fragrant leaves that attract hummingbirds, honeybees and butterflies with their […]

September 4, 20130 Comments

Trees of Morni: Genthi

Genthi/ Daar/ Githa (Boehmeria rugulosa/nervosa ) a medium-sized evergreen tree of the Himalayas (occurs at altitudes upto 1500 metres) with long lance-shaped leaves, strongly 3 veined. The tree flowers in August/ September – flowers are small, greenish, borne in spikes. Bark is dark brown and rough- deeply fissured. Timber is moderately hard and dark red. The juice […]

September 3, 20131 Comment

Shrubs of Morni: Himalayan Balsam

Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) is a shrub that originates in the Himalayas. Is typically 5 to 6 feet high with green, red-tinged stem. Leaves are long and slender with serrated edges. The flowers are pink with a hood that resembles a policeman’s helmet. The bees and the wasps can be seen drinking the sweet and […]

August 12, 20130 Comments

Shrubs of Morni: Arrowleaf Dock

Arrowleaf Dock/ Churki/ Khatti booti (Rumex hastatus) is a bushy shrub of the rocky hillsides of Western Himalayas that grows at altitudes ranging from 700 to 2500 metres. Leaves are 1 to 3 inches long, narrow, arrow-shaped, thick and fleshy. Its tiny flowers are an attractive pink, often tinged with green and occur on terminal […]

July 5, 20130 Comments

Shrubs of Morni: Railway Creeper

Railway Creeper/ Ivy-leaved Morning Glory/ Mile-a-Minute Vine (Ipomoea cairica)- a fast growing morning glory vine with purple flowers with 5-lobed (sometimes 7) leaves. It is commonly seen in the waste patches along railway tracks and hence the name.  

May 26, 20130 Comments

Trees of Morni: Kadam

Kadam (Neolamarckia cadamba) is native to the sub-Himalayan terrai region and the lower Shivaliks. The leaves are glossy and the fragrant flowers form conspicuous woolly orange-yellow balls. Seeds are contained in the fruit capsules that are packed tightly together in orange-coloured ‘globules’  and are dispersed by bats. The tree is fast growing with a spreading […]

May 17, 20130 Comments

Trees of Morni: Mauwa

Mauwa/ Samma (Engelhardtia spicata) is a medium sized deciduos tree of the Himalayas occuring at altitudes ranging from 1000-3000 metres. The trunk is greyish-brown, straight and deeply fissured. The tree flowers during March-April and the light green female flowers hang in pendulous spikes. Timber is reddish-grey and moderately hard.    

May 8, 20130 Comments

Shrubs of Morni: Indian Mallow

Indian Mallow/ Atibala (Abutilon Indicum) is a small tropical shrub with ovate/heart-shaped leaves with serrated margins that flowers from September to April. The dainty orange-yellow flowers are about an inch in diameter and occur solitary in axils on long stalks. Fruiting carpels are flat-topped and form a dark and hairy head. Seeds are kidney-shaped. The plant is […]

May 4, 20131 Comment

Shrubs of Morni: Delicate Prickly Pear

Delicate Prickly Pear/ Plains Prickly Pear (Opuntia Macrorrhiza) is a small opuntia with rounded spiny pads and bright yellow flowers. The cactus tolerates drought and grows well in sunny conditions and in a well drained soil. The flowers are 2 to 3 inches in diameter and have 8 to 12 yellow rays with a bushy […]

April 29, 20130 Comments

Shrubs of Morni: Mexican poppy

Mexican poppy/ Devil’s Fig ( Argemone ochroleuca/ Argemone mexicana L)    

April 23, 20132 Comments

Trees of Morni: Kachnar

Kachnar    

April 22, 20130 Comments

Trees of Morni: Kassod

Kassod  कसोद/ Siamese cassia  (Senna siamea) a 50 foot high, evergreen tree with a short trunk and a large low branching crown. Leaves are alternate, pinnately compound. Flowers are bright yellow and grow in dense pannicles. The tree prefers moist, well drained soils upto an altitude of 1250 metres.  Timber quality is dense/heavy and burns well. Foliage […]

April 7, 20130 Comments

Shrubs of Morni: Great Globe Thistle

Great White Globe Thistle/ Pale Globe Thistle (Echinops sphaerocephalus) is easily identified by the near perfect flower spheres (2″in diametre) that stand tall atop erect stems. Flowering takes place from June to September. The petals that make up the flower spheres are white/pale-blue.  Flowers are pollinated by honey-bees,wasps and butterflies. Leaves are gray-green, sharply toothed and […]

February 26, 20130 Comments

Shrubs of Morni: Rose Bud Jasmine

Rose Bud Jasmine (Jasmine dichotomum)    

February 25, 20130 Comments

Shrubs of Morni: Kans grass

Kans grass/ Kash phool (Saccharum spontaneum) is a deep-rooted, coarse and erect  perennial grass of South Asia that colonizes the monsoon flood plains of the Terai-Bhabar belt (in the foothills of the Shivalik hills) after the rains and forms thick pure stands in the area. It grows to a height of about 3 metres and blooms […]

February 13, 20133 Comments

Trees of Morni: Chaste tree

Chaste tree/ Nirgundi/ Sindvar/ Negundo (Vitex negundo) – a small tree (size of a large shrub) with a single woody trunk that grows in wastelands and the Himalayas upto a height of 2000 metres. Leaves are pointed with 3 to 5 leaflets and have a pungent odour. Fresh leaves are burnt as a fumigant to get rid […]

February 12, 20130 Comments

Shrubs of Morni: Blue Billygoat Weed

Blue Billygoat Weed/Goat weed/ flossflower/ bluemink/ blueweed/ bluetop (Ageratum houstonianum) A short-lived, perennial plant that emerges and flowers all year round. The tiny, ray flowers are pale lavender blue and occur as showy, fluffy clusters on ends of erect stems. The seeds are black and attached to whitish fluff that assists in wind dispersal. Leaves are mid-green, […]

February 11, 20130 Comments

Shrubs of Morni: Scarlet Gourd

Ivy Gourd/ Scarlet Gourd/ Tum Lung/ Pak Tum Luk/ Kundru in Hindi (Coccinia grandis/indica) a fast growing tropical vine that bears green, pickle-sized fruit that turns scarlet on ripening. The tendrils are about 6″ in length and are spring-like and coiled. Leaves are 5-pointed, palm-shaped. Flowers are white and star shaped. Fruiting takes place from […]

February 10, 20130 Comments

Shrubs of Morni: Lantana camara

Lantana camara/ Spanish Flag is a hardy, tropical bush with red-yellow (the colours of the flag of Spain) flowers. It is native to tropical America and was introduced as an ornamental garden hedge in India and other parts of the world. Lantana camara is today considered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) […]

February 8, 20131 Comment

Shrubs of Morni: Yellow-berried Nightshade

Yellow-berried Nightshade/ Thorny Nightshade (Solanum virginianum/ xanthocarpum) is a woody, creepy shrub with sturdy, needlelike thorns and prickly leaves. The thorns cover the stem and the leaves have thorns along the midrib and other nerves. Flowers are blue-purple with yellow anthers and berries are yellow. Flowers arrive in early summer. Medicinal preparations are used to treat […]

February 8, 20130 Comments

Trees of Morni: Indian Date Palm

Indian Date Palm (Phoenix sylvestris) a hardy, drought-resistant, single-trunked palm that grows wild in scrubland upto an elevation of 1300 metres.The green, curving leaves (about 10 feet in length) with sharply-pointed leaflets, form an attractive leaf crown that makes it a popular choice for landscaping.The trunk is bumpy and is marked by diamond-shaped leaf scars.The […]

January 28, 2013

Trees of Morni: Lasora

Lasora/ Lasuda/ Indian cherry/ Clammy cherry/ Bird Lime tree ( Cordia dichotoma)

January 28, 20130 Comments

Trees of Morni: Tiger’s Claw Tree

Tiger’s claw tree/ Indian Coral tree/ Gadha-palash/ Pangra (Erythrina variegata ) A beautiful, thorny deciduous tree with a thin bark that grows to a height of over 50 feet. The tree is breathtakingly beautiful in blossom with striking clusters of upward facing bright orange-red flowers at ends of thorny branchlets that give the tree its […]

January 28, 20130 Comments

Shrubs of Morni: Indian Globe Thistle

Indian Globe Thistle / Camel’s Thistle (Oont katara/ Oont kateli)/ Brahmadandi (Brahma’s stick!)  (Echinops echinatus) is a thorny erect plant of the wastelands with short stout stems that branch from the base and are covered with white cottony hair. Tiny white flowers appear during December-April on solitary white spherical (‘Globular’) balls and are guarded by […]

January 27, 20130 Comments

Shrubs of Morni: Hopbush

Hopbush (Dodonaea viscosa)  

January 27, 20130 Comments

Shrubs of Morni: Indian Squirrel Tail

Indian Squirrel Tail/ Bhamber/ Bhirmoli/ Binda/ Pansra (Colebrookea oppositifolia) a branched himalayan shrub that can grow to 10 feet high, occuring at altitudes upto 1800 metres. It has distinctive tiny white flowers that occur in upright spikes that resemble the squirrel’s tail. The leaves are dark-green above about 6″ in length and are lance like […]

January 20, 20133 Comments

Trees of Morni: Bhut-vriksha

Bhut-vriksha/Shyonak/ Tree of Damocles/ Indian Trumpet Flower/ Midnight horror/Broken Bones Plant (Oroxylum indicum) is native to the Himalayan foothills and grows to a height of 20-25 feet. The large reddish-purple (pinkish-yellow within) flowers bloom at night and are pollinated by bats! The enoromous purple-brown, flat seed pods (often four feet in length) hang down from […]

January 13, 20135 Comments

Tree of Morni: Kamala

Kamala/Raini/ Rohan/ Rohini/ Sinduri/ Monkey Face Tree (Mallotus philippensis) – a slow-growing, small (25-50 feet high), narrow-stemmed tropical tree that yields a golden-red dye used for colouring silk and wool. Found in the Western Himalayas upto a height of 5000 feet, it is used in Ayurveda for treating skin ailments, eye-diseases, jaundice, worm/parasitic infections, rheumatism, […]

January 13, 20130 Comments

Shrubs of Morni: Bush Morning Glory

Bush Morning Glory/ Besharam – Shameless! (Ipomoea carnea) is a tall, sparsely branched shrub with green, 6-9″ heart shaped leaves with long stalks and trumpet shaped purple-pink flowers that fade under the heat of the sun. The flowers bloom in the morning in clusters at ends of tall branches and attract butterflies and hummingbirds.The leaves […]

January 8, 20130 Comments

Shrubs of Morni: Aak

Aak/Akada (Calotropis procera) a spreading shrub about 6 – 10 feet in height with grey-green leaves and waxy purple-white flowers. The plant yields a milky-white latex that is used to cure skin ailments including leprosy. The leaves and roots are used in traditional forms of medicine for treating cough, fever and malaria. Flowers are used […]

January 7, 20131 Comment

Shrubs of Morni: Bansa

Bansa/ Vasaka (Adhatoda vasica) is a medicinal shrub that grows to a height of 2-4 feet and is native to Asia. The leaves are long and lance-like with a bitter taste. The leaves are rich in alkaloids, particularly vasicine that is used for preparing expectorants and is also used in different Ayurvedic formulations. The plant is also […]

January 7, 20132 Comments

Harar trees of Morni

The ‘Harar’ tree or the ‘Haritaki’ (Terminalia Chebula or Chebule Myrobalan) is a medium-sized deciduous tree that grows to a height of 100 feet. The trunk is grayish-brown in colour, the leaves are glossy green with tiny silver hair. The tree is known for its elliptical fruit ‘haritaki’ which is over an inch long. The […]

December 7, 20126 Comments

Trees of Morni: Babool

Babool/ Desi babool    

August 12, 20120 Comments

Trees of Morni: Kakkarsingi

Kakkarsingi/ Kakra/Kakkar/Pistacia ‘Red Push’ (Pistacia integerrima)  

July 24, 20120 Comments

Trees of Morni: Dhobin

Dhobin (Dalbergia paniculata)

July 24, 20120 Comments

Trees of Morni: Buddha’s Coconut

Buddha’s Coconut/ Buddha’s Narikel (Pterygota alata)

July 24, 20120 Comments

Trees of Morni: Phulai

Phulai/ Amritsar Gum/ Black Sally (Acacia modesta)

July 23, 20120 Comments

Trees of Morni: Bistendu

Bistendu/ Kala Dhau/ Bombay Ebony (Diopyros cordifolia)

July 2, 20121 Comment

Trees of Morni: Karva Indrajau

Karva Indrajau/ Dudhi/ Kutaj/ Kewar/ Kurchi (Holarrhena pubescens) a small deciduous tree that grows upto 10 feet and is common in the sub-Himalayan tract. The stem is short with numerous branches. The flowers are fragrant, white with five petals that turn creamy yellow. The flowers occur in clusters. The leaves are ovate, about 6″ long […]

May 30, 20120 Comments

Trees of Morni: Amaltas

Amaltas/ Golden Shower Tree (Cassia fistula) – a beautiful tropical tree that sheds its leaves in summers and bursts into bunches of yellow-golden, fragrant flowers that hang like grapes. The tree grows well in well-drained soil and tolerates dry conditions.  A fast growing tree that can grow upto 60 feet in height. The wood is hard […]

May 29, 20120 Comments

Trees of Morni: Sohanjna

Sohanjna/ Horseradish Tree/ Drumstick Tree (Moringa Oleifera) a fast growing, small deciduous tree with deep roots that help it survive dry conditions. It prefers well-drained clays. The bark is smooth dark grey. The wood is soft and light and of limited use. It produces flowers all year round if water is ample. The foliage is […]

May 29, 20120 Comments

Trees of Morni: Biul

Biul (Grewia oppositifolia) a moderate sized deciduous tree found scattered in hill ranges of northern India upto an altitude of 7000 feet.   The bark is whitish and the wood is elastic and tough. The bark yields a jute like fibre. The wood releases an unpleasant odour when first cut and is hence rarely used […]

May 29, 20120 Comments

Trees of Morni: Punjab Fig

Punjab Fig/ Jangli-Anjir/ Khemri (Ficus palmata) is a moderate sized deciduous tree with a smooth dull ash gray/ whitish bark. Wood is light coloured, of moderate strength. Leaves are dark green and heart-shaped with toothed margins. The fruit, ‘Punjab Fig’ is a small sized fruit with a pleasant taste.  The fig dries up and turns […]

May 15, 20120 Comments

Trees of Morni: Crocodile-bark Tree

Crocodile-bark tree/ Sein/ Asan/ Asana/ Saaj (Terminalia elliptica or tomentosa/Pentaptera tomentosa) is a tall deciduous tree with a tough fire-resistant bark that resembles the crocodile skin! The bark is known to have medicinal values. Sein is found at altitudes upto 1000 metres in both dry and moist deciduous forests. The tree stores water in the trunk […]

May 15, 20120 Comments

Trees of Morni: Aamla

Aamla/ Indian Gooseberry (Phyllanthus emblica) a small to medium sized deciduous tree with globular yellow-green berries known for the high nutritional and medicinal value. The berries ripen in autumn and fruit is borne by the upper branches. Aamla fruit, bark etc is used extensively in Ayurvedic formulations for treating inflammations, cough, gastric problems and to stimulate hair […]

May 10, 20120 Comments

Trees of Morni: Mango

Mango (Mangifera indica L.) is a long-lived large tropical fruit tree native to the Indian subcontinent that can grow up to 125 feet in height with a crown diameter of over 60 feet. Its taproots penetrate to a depth of over 20 feet with the feeder and anchor roots spread over a wide area. The […]

May 10, 20120 Comments

Trees of Morni: Chir Pine

Chir Pine (Pinus roxburghii) a large Himalayan coniferous tree found in the lower altitudes, that can grow upto 150 feet high and has a tough, deeply fissured red-brown bark that protects the tree from forest fires. The leaves are glossy green, slender needles that occur in clusters of three. The pine make a beautiful whistling […]

May 10, 20120 Comments

Trees of Morni: Tiger’s Milk Spruce

Tiger’s Milk Spruce/ Khirun/ Khinna/ Chhiran/ Ainkhar (Sapium insigne) a medium-sized, fast growing deciduous tree of the Shiwaliks with horizontal branches that exude a toxic milky sap. During flowering the tree is leafless with long upright, crimson coloured spikes at the end of the branches. Flowers are yellowish-green arranged on these terminal spikes. Leaves are […]

May 8, 20121 Comment

Trees of Morni: Chhal (Axel-wood tree)

Chhal/Dhaura/Dhauri/ Dhau/Bakli/ Axle-wood tree (Anogeissus or Conocarpus latifolia) is a rugged, broad-leaved deciduous tree that is found in the Shivaliks and outer-Himalayas at altitudes upto 1250 metres. It grows well on well drained clayey/loamy slopes and may appear stunted on dry rocky slopes. Old leaves are shed in winter months with new leaves appearing with […]

May 8, 20120 Comments

Trees of Morni: Dhaman

Dhaman/ Dhamin/ Dhanu vriksha/Kandiayee (Grewia tiliifolia) a moderate sized tree with a grey/dark brown bark that bears pea sized, globose, edible stone fruits that turn black when ripe. The fruit is liked by grey langurs and humans alike! Leaves are oblique, heart shaped. Wood is strong elastic and durable.

May 8, 20120 Comments

Trees of Morni: Safed Kikkar

White Bark Acacia/ Brewer’s or Distiller’s Acacia/ Safed Kikkar/ Safed Babul/ Reonja/ Ronjh/ Niur in Morni (Acacia leucophloea) is a medium-sized thorny tree with a stout trunk and an umbrella like spreading crown. It is hardy and can withstand drought. Bark is light coloured. Leaves are double compound with  thorns at the base. Flowers appear […]

May 8, 20120 Comments

Trees of Morni: Flame of the Forest

Flame of the Forest/ Bastard Teak/ Dhak/ Keshu (Butea monosperma) is a slow growing medium sized dry deciduous tree with a crooked trunk and twisted irregular branches. The leaves are pinnately compound with three leaflets. The hindi phrase ‘Dhak ke teen paat’ originates from the three leaves of dhak tree that were sewn together to […]

April 15, 20120 Comments

Trees of Morni: Moorti

Moorti Tree  

April 11, 20120 Comments

Trees of Morni: Pigeon wood

Indian charcoal-tree/ Indian Nettle/Pigeon wood/ Jivan/ Kasoori (Trema orientalis) is a fast growing nitogen fixing tropical shade tree that grows well on poor soil and helps reclaim deforested areas. Its a short lived opportunist that claims the gaps in the forest areas and often contributes to the regeneration of the forest by providing shade to […]

April 11, 20120 Comments

Trees of Morni: Tilki

Tilki/ Tilman/ Pansira/ Cheeli (Wendlandia heynei)– a small evergreen tree that gets covered with tiny pink white flowers in spring and the tree appears to be covered with snow.  It is a fairly common tree in Morni hills.        

April 10, 20120 Comments

Trees of Morni: Peepal

Peepal/ Bodhi (Tree of Enlightened) Tree/ Sacred Fig Tree (Ficus religiosa) is a large dry season-deciduous tree that can grow to a height of 30 metres. The tree is a species of the banyan fig and lacks the aerial props of the banyan. The trunk can achieveve a diameter of 6 metres.The leaves are heart […]

November 18, 20110 Comments

Trees of Morni: Gular

Gular/ Goolar/ Cluster Fig Tree (Ficus racemosa/ F. glomerata) is a common, partially deciduous, tree of the sub-mountainous tract with medium to large stature. The tree is found upto an elevation of 1200 metres. The tree has a peculiarity that it sheds leaves during the monsoons and not during autumn or winter. The leaves are […]

November 17, 20112 Comments

Trees of Morni: Simmal

Simmal/ Cotton tree (Bombax ceiba) is a tropical tree with a straight tall trunk and can grow to a height of 3o metres. The leaves are deciduous in winter. The tree grows rapidly during the monsoon and spring. The 5 petalled beautiful red flowers bloom in the spring (March/April) before the new foliage. The flower […]

November 17, 20113 Comments

Trees of Morni: Khair

Khair (Acacia catechu) is a medium sized, deciduous, thorny tree which grows upto 15 metres tall and has a crooked and forked trunk. The tree grows upto an elevation of 1300 metres.The extract ‘katha’ is used as an ingredient in ‘paan’ (betel leaf) and is also used to treat sore throats and diarrhoea. Katha is […]

November 16, 20113 Comments

Trees of Morni: Chimbal

Chimbal/ Timbal/ Tirmal/ Timla / Elephant Ear Fig/ Broad Leaved Fig (Ficus auriculata/ F. oligodon/ F. roxburghii) is a fast growing woody, deciduous, fig tree with very large leaves, reminding one of elephant ears. Auriculata means ‘Ear Like’. The trunk is short and it divides into a few stout laterals which further branch in all […]

November 16, 20110 Comments

Trees of Morni: Ber

Ber/ Indian jujube (Ziziphus mauritiana) is a hardy, tropical thorny evergreen bush (1.5 metre tall) or a medium sized tree (upto 12 metres tall). The tree grows rapidly and starts producing fruit within 3 years. It has high tolerance for water-logging as well as drought conditions. Its tap root develops rapidly to defy drought conditions. […]

November 16, 20110 Comments

Trees of Morni: Maljhan Creeper

Maljhan/ Malu/ Siali or the Camel’s Foot Climber (Bauhinia vahlii) is the largest, perennial creeper in India. This giant woody climber runs over the highest trees all over the himalayas. The leaves are heart shaped at the base with distict roundish lobes.The cleft leaves create the impression of a camel’s foot print. The botanical name […]

November 15, 20111 Comment

Trees of Morni: Thor

Thor/ Danda Thor/ Churee (Euphorbia royleana) is a large cactus-like shrub, up to 5 m tall, with stout trunk and many thick fleshy branches with 5-7 thick, wavy, winged ridges armed with pairs of thorns on their margins. Leaves are fleshy, spoon-shaped, 10-15 cm long. The stems become leafless during hot and cold seasons. Flower-heads […]

November 15, 20110 Comments

Trees of Morni: Jhingan

Jhingan (Odina Wodier) is a moderate sized soft wooded tree that grows upto 20 metres in height. It occurs throughout the country in rocky, deciduous forests. The bark is grayish and rough peels off in thin irregular flakes. The tree sheds leaves on the arrival of the warm season and in summers one can see […]

November 15, 20110 Comments

Trees of Morni: Tun

Tun (Cedrela Toona) or the Indian Mahogony is a deciduous tree growing to 25 m tall with a trunk up to 70 cm diameter. The bark is brown, smooth on young trees, becoming scaly to shaggy on old trees. The leaves are pinnate, 50–70 cm long and 30–40 cm broad, with 10–40 leaflets. The individual […]

November 15, 20110 Comments

Trees of Morni: Pula

Pula (Kydia calycina) is a moderate sized deciduous tree that can grow upto 20 m tall.It occurs chiefly in mixed, moist deciduous forests and is not a very common tree.The grey bark is rough with large white specks on branches.The young parts are covered with grey stellate (radial) hairs. Leaves are 4-5 by 3 inches, […]

November 14, 20110 Comments

Trees of Morni: Mahua

Mahua/Mahwa (Bassia latifolia/ B. longifolia/ Madhuca indica) is a fast growing evergreen/semi-evergreen tree that is prominent in the tropical mixed deciduous forests of India. It is adapted to arid conditions and can grow upto 20 metres.The oleaginous seeds yield fat/oil that is used for skin care, as a laxative and for treating rheumatism, headaches, haemorrhoids […]

November 4, 20110 Comments

Trees of Morni: Banyan

Banyan (Ficus Benghalensis) or the Indian Fig Tree is the national tree of India. It’s native names include Bargad, Barh and the Vatavriksh. The name ‘banyan’ is ascribed by some to the village ‘bania’ (merchantman) who conducted his trade in the leafy shade of this evergreen tree that invariably occupies the centre of the village […]

November 4, 20110 Comments

The Morni Forest

The forest of Morni was granted as a jagir to Mir Jafar Ali of Kotaha by the British in 1816 in recognition of the services rendered during the war against the Gurkhas. Thereafter, the Morni ‘ilaqa’ continued to be owned by the descendants of Mir Jafar Ali till 1968 when the Haryana Government started the acquisition of […]

October 16, 20110 Comments

Birds

Birds of Morni: Grey Wagtail

Grey wagtail (Motacilla cinerea) is a small wagtail with a yellow throat (black in breeding males) and vent, whitish underparts and grey upper parts. It has a narrow white supercilium. It can be spotted wagging its tail energetically as it forages for insects in meadows or shallow marshes.

November 9, 20141 Comment

Birds of Morni: Little Pied Flycatcher

Little Pied Flycatcher (Ficedula westermanni) 

November 9, 20140 Comments

Birds of Morni: Crested Bunting

Crested Bunting is about 6″ in size and is generally found in low-lying, grassy hills and areas with terraced cultivation.The head and body in males is a shiny blue-black with a prominent feathery crest at the back of the head. The wings and the tail are chestnut brown/ rufous. The females have streaked upper parts […]

November 6, 20140 Comments

Birds of Morni: Jungle Bush Quail

Jungle Bush Quail (Perdicula asiatica) is a quail of the Indian subcontinent, about 6″ in length that feeds largely on seeds of grasses (sometimes also on insects). It breeds after the rains. The male has a heavily barred, white belly and underparts (females have chestnut breast and belly). Head has red and white streaks.

September 28, 20141 Comment

Birds of Morni: Little Cormorant

Little Cormorant can be spotted foraging in small ponds, lakes and streams either alone or in small loose groups. It swims underwater in search of fish and perches itself with open wings on rocky-outcrops or branches of fallen trees projecting from the water  to dry itself after emerging from a dip. It is a little […]

February 9, 20140 Comments

Birds of Morni: Wallcreeper

Wallcreeper (Tichodroma muraria) a blue-grey bird of the mountains, about 6” in size, with striking crimson wings and dark tail and flight feathers. It is found in the Himalayas at elevations of 1000-3000 metres and moves to lower elevations in winters. It feeds on insects and spiders and can be seen hopping up and down a […]

February 9, 20141 Comment

Birds of Morni: Oriental white-eye

Oriental White-eye is a tiny olive-yellow bird with a white belly. It has a prominent white eye-ring. It is commonly found in flocks in scrub forests. They feed on insects, fruit and nectar and pollinate flowers. They prefer the safety of trees and rarely venture on ground.

December 16, 20130 Comments

Birds of Morni: Black Redstart

Black Redstart is a small (5” to 6” in length) colourful bird with dark upper parts and an orange-red belly, rump and tail. It’s a flycatcher that catches insects in mid-air. It flicks its tail and bobs its head much like the Robin. The bird originally nested in cliff-walls but has now adapted to nesting […]

December 16, 20130 Comments

Birds of Morni: Grey Bushchat

Grey Bushchat (Saxicola ferreus)  

November 20, 20130 Comments

Birds of Morni: Indian Pond Heron

Indian Pond Heron/ Paddy Bird /Andha Bagla in Hindi (Ardeola grayii) an earthy brown bird with snow-white wings, tail and rump that take you by surprise as the bird rises in flight.  The neck is pulled-in when flying. Its near perfect camouflage makes it difficult to spot when not in flight. It is seen at […]

August 13, 20130 Comments

Birds of Morni: Baya Weaver

Baya Weaver/Son-Chiri (Ploceus philippinus) is a weaver bird, the size of a sparrow that weaves elaborate hanging nests on thorny trees (like Acacias) and palms bordering water bodies. Nests are built by the males in colonies by weaving wild grasses, paddy leaves, strips torn from palm leaves etc. The pendulous nests have a bulb-shaped central nesting chamber […]

July 24, 20130 Comments

Birds of Morni: Asian Koel

Asian Koel (Eudynamis orientalis) – is a large long-tailed cuckoo, about the size of a house crow, though slenderer. The male is a glistening black with a yellowish-green beak and crimson eyes. The female is brown and is heavily spotted and barred with buff and white. Koels are very vocal during the breeding season from […]

May 9, 20131 Comment

Birds of Morni: White-crested Kalij Pheasant

White-crested Kalij Pheasant (Lophura leucomelanos hamiltonii)- a pheasant of the western-Himalayas, especially the foothills. The males have a thin white crest, crimson face wattles and a glossy blue-black body. The breast and abdomen has grey-white feathers. The rump as well as middle and lower back is whitish. The bill is greenish-white. The legs are grey-white. The females […]

April 29, 20130 Comments

Birds of Morni: White-browed Fantail Flycatcher

White-browed Fantail Flycatcher (Rhipidura aureola)  about 7″ with dark, dull, blackish-brown body and the trademark white ‘eyebrows’ (superciliums) and a fan-shaped tail.The throat is black with a white collar. The fan-shaped tail feathers have white edges. The beak and the feet are black. It is a restless bird that continously flicks its tail up and […]

February 25, 20130 Comments

Birds of Morni: Indian White-backed Vulture

Indian White-backed Vulture (Gyps bengalensis) is a medium-sized vulture (about 3′ in length and wingspan of about 8′) with a bare pink-grey head and an unfeathered neck and a prominent white ruff or tuft at the base of the neck. The plummage is dark but the back and the rump are whitish. In flight, the […]

February 7, 20130 Comments

Birds of Morni: Greater Coucal

Greater Coucal/Crow Pheasant/ Mahoka/ Bharadwaj/Kamadi kukkar/Ratna pakshi (Centropus sinensis) a large crow-like cuckoo, about a foot-and-a-half in length with a black-head and underside, glossed with purple, coppery brown wings and a long black tail. A weak-flier, it spends most of its time on the ground and can be spotted in vegetation foraging for insects and small […]

January 20, 20130 Comments

Birds of Morni: Blue-throated Flycatcher

Blue-throated Flycatcher (Cyornis rubeculoides) – the male is blue above with a deep blue throat, a rufous breast and a white belly. The female is olive-brown above with a rufous rump. It is found in the Himalayas in forests with dense undergrowth. It nests in rock crevices or tree holes.

January 8, 20130 Comments

Birds of Morni: Common Kestrel

Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) a relatively smaller bird of prey, a little over a foot in length with the females being bigger and heavier than males.The wings are long (two-and-a-half feet wing span) and the tail is prominent. The raptor is light chestnut brown with blackish spots and streaks.The tail is black tipped. The feet are […]

October 6, 20120 Comments

Birds of Morni: Egyptian Vulture

Egyptian Vulture/Pharaoh’s Chicken (Neophron percnopterus) – a small white vulture that can be seen gliding gracefully in pairs on thermals during the warm hours. The under-wing has a distinctive black edge. The face is unfeathered and bright yellow. This bright yellow-orange facial colour is attributed to the organic pigments obtained from feeding on faeces of deer etc! […]

September 24, 20120 Comments

Birds of Morni: Red-rumped Swallow

Red-rumped Swallow/ Masjid-ababil is the size of a sparrow and is a glossy deep blue with a white chest and lower parts streaked with brown. A chestnut band runs from the face to the hindneck. The tail is long and forked that becomes visible in flight as does the red-brown rump. The flight is swift […]

July 22, 20121 Comment

Birds of Morni: Greater Yellownape

Greater Yellownape (Picus  flavinucha) a common large woodpecker of South Asia (about a foot in length) with green neck, breast and upper parts apart from a prominent yellow tufted nape. The abdomen is whitish and the stiff tail and vent are dark coloured. It has a straight pointed beak with a long tongue to capture insects. […]

July 2, 20120 Comments

Birds of Morni: Indian Roller

Indian Roller/ Neelkanth (Coracias benghalensis) is over a foot in size with a blue-green/ turquoise blue crown, lower wings and vent. The tail is sky blue. The back and abdomen is gray-brown. The beak is long and curved with a hooked tip. It is found perched on bare trees or overhead wires in cultivated areas […]

June 30, 20120 Comments

Birds of Morni: Spot-billed Duck

Spot-billed Duck/ Garm-pai/ Gugral (Anas poecilorhyncha) a large sized duck, about 2 feet in length, with a scaly patterned light and dark brown plummage. The head and neck are a pale grey/buff. It has a black bill tipped with bright yellow. Males have a prominent red spot at the base of the bill.  A white wing bar […]

April 11, 20121 Comment

Birds of Morni: Median Egret

Median Egret (Mesophoyx intermedia) is intermediate between the small and the large egret and is about two-feet long with a four feet wing span. The bill is thick and yellowish which may turn black during breeding.Breeding birds also display loose filamentous plumes on their breast and back. The legs are dark. The plumage is white. […]

April 11, 20120 Comments

Birds of Morni: Common Mynah

Common Mynah (Acridotheres tristis) is a cheerful, dark brown bird with a striking, bright yellow beak, legs and patch around the eye. The wings reveal a conspicous white patch in flight. Spotting a pair is considered lucky in student folklore and a solitary myna means approaching sadness! It resides near human habitations and is found […]

April 10, 20120 Comments

Birds of Morni: Black-winged Stilt

Black-winged Stilt/Pied Stilt (Himantopus himantopus) is a long-legged wader with long pink legs and over a foot in length. In flight the legs project far beyond the tail. The bill is long thin and black and the iris is red. The bird is black above and white below with a white head, neck breast and belly […]

April 10, 20120 Comments

Birds of Morni: Common Moorhen

Common Moorhen/ Jal Murghi (Gallinula chloropus) is duck-like bird with a dark, black/brown plumage, a white undertail, a line of white feathers on the flanks, a red bill with a yellow-tip and a prominent red facial shield. The legs and feet of the moorhen are yellow. The feet are large and not webbed. It is […]

April 10, 20120 Comments

Birds of Morni: Asian Pied Starling

Asian Pied Starling/Asian Pied Myna/ Gursal/ Ablak (Sturnus contra) is a striking black and white bird with an orange- yellow bill. The head, throat and upper body is black while the cheeks and lower body is white. Asian pied starlings are found in plains and foothills in areas with access to open water. They forage […]

April 10, 20120 Comments

Birds of Morni: House Sparrow

House Sparrow/ Chirih– once a common bird, about 6″ in size that occurs wherever human habitations exist. The male has a grey crown with a black bill, throat and black around the eye. Body is rufous-chestnut above with a white shoulder patch.Tail is dark brown and underparts are grey white. Females are grey-brown above and […]

April 9, 20120 Comments

Birds of Morni: Red-wattled Lapwing

Red-wattled Lapwing  

April 9, 20120 Comments

Birds of Morni: Great Barbet

Great Barbet (Megalaima virens) is the largest barbet, a large multi-coloured, plump bird over a foot in length and weighing about 250 gm. It has a short neck and tail. It has a large blue head and a brown back and breast. The rest of the plumage is green. Bristles mark the fringe of the […]

March 19, 20120 Comments

Birds of Morni: White-capped Red Start

White-capped Red Start/ White-capped Water Red Start/ River Red Start/ White-capped River Chat (Chaimarrornis leucocephalus ) – a black and orange chestnut bird about the size of a sparrow that is found along rapid Himalayan rivers and streams. The throat, breast and upper parts are black with a prominent white cap and a constantly shivering […]

March 17, 20120 Comments

Birds of Morni: Brown-headed Barbet

Brown-headed Barbet/Large Green Barbet (Megalaima zeylanica) is a relatively large plump barbet with a large brown head, a short brown neck and a short tail. Rest of the plumage is green. A prominent yellow-orange eye patch makes the eye seem large and menacing. The bill is thick and red. It feeds on fruit (mango, papaya, […]

March 11, 20120 Comments

Birds of Morni: White Wagtail

White Wagtail/ Dhoban/ (Motacilla alba) a slender 7″ bird with a long tail that constantly wags as it forages for insects, alert for predators.It is grey above and white below. It has a white face with a black skull cap and a black throat that gives one the curious impression that the bird is wearing […]

February 29, 20120 Comments

Birds of Morni: Grey Bushchat

Grey Bushchat (Saxicola ferreus) belongs to the family of Old World flycatchers that feed largely on insects caught in flight.It is found in a wide variety of habitats ranging from the scrub forests and hillsides to gardens. The bird is about 15 cm long and the male is grey to black with a grey-fringed back […]

January 5, 20120 Comments

Birds of Morni: Orphean Warbler

Orphean Warbler (Sylvia hortensis) – A small (15 cm) passerine bird found in open deciduous woodland that feeds on insects. The adult males have a plain grey back, dark grey head, white throat and underparts. The bill is long and pointed and the legs black. The male has a  black eye mask and a prominent white iris. […]

December 11, 20110 Comments

Birds of Morni: Red-headed Vulture

Red-headed Vulture/ Asian King Vulture (Sarcogyps calvus) is a medium-sized vulture about 3 feet in length with a wingspan of around 8 feet.The body is black with a pale grey band at the base of flight feathers.Found in deciduos forests, open arid country,foothills and river valleys upto an altitude of 3000 metres.The adult has a […]

December 10, 20110 Comments

Birds of Morni: Jungle Crow

Jungle Crow (Corvus macrorhynchos) is a glossy jet black crow with a heavy bill. Its ‘caw’ is deep and hoarse. Found chiefly in the countryside, it feeds on carrion. It is omnivorous and feeds on eggs and chicks of other birds. It also feeds on small mammals. It build its nest in trees, a platform of […]

December 6, 20110 Comments

Birds of Morni: Indian Peafowl

Indian Peafowl/Mor (Pavo cristatus)- is a large brightly coloured bird of the pheasant family. It is the national bird of India. The cock can have a bill to tail feather length of over 7 feet and can weigh over 5 kg. The gorgeous cock is predominantly velvety blue (crown, neck and chest) with striking elongated upper-tail covert […]

December 6, 20110 Comments

Birds of Morni: Cinereous Tit

Cinereous Tit (Parus cinereus)  is a bird of the size of the sparrow. It has a glossy black head with glistening white cheek patches. The back is grey and the under parts are white. A broad black central band runs down from the throat and is very conspicous. The wing is bluish-grey with a white-wing-bar. The tail is […]

November 23, 20110 Comments

Birds of Morni: Rufous-backed Shrike

Rufous-backed Shrike (Lanius schach) is the size of a bulbul. Has a grey head. The rump and lower back is rufous. The under parts are whitish with a tinge of rufous. A dark, black band runs from the forehead through the eyes. The bill is stout and hooked. It is found in open, scrub area and […]

November 21, 20110 Comments

Birds of Morni: Small Bee Eater

Small Bee Eater (Merops orientalis) is a pretty bird, the size of a sparrow. Has long, slender, slightly curved black bill that it uses to capture insects in mid-air. The bird is grass-green and perches on leafy tree-tops and is difficult to spot. The head is pale green and the throat is light blue. There is a dark […]

November 21, 20110 Comments

Birds of Morni: Red-billed Chough

Red-billed Chough (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax) a bird of the crow family, has velvet-black plummage with a glossy-green body. The long curved bill and the legs are red.The bird has a length of 15 inches and its wing span can reach 3 feet.The nasal call is loud and ringing. It inhabits the higher Himalayas (2400 m to […]

November 21, 20110 Comments

Birds of Morni: Jungle Babbler

Jungle Babbler/ Sat bhai (Turdoides striatus) an earthy brown untidy looking bird that moves in noisy flocks or ‘sisterhoods’ of half a dozen or more (hence the common name ‘Sat bhai’ – Seven Brothers). The tail is longish. Wings are small and round and the flight is weak. The bill is yellow. The call is harsh and […]

November 21, 20110 Comments

Birds of Morni: Cetti’s Warbler

Cetti’s Warbler is a small (5-6 inches long) but stocky, nondescript bird that skulks around in dense vegetation with scrub, usually close to water. Typically, it builds its nest in a bush near water. It has a plain reddish-brown back, a pale stripe over the eye, whitish grey underparts, a broad rounded tail and short […]

November 21, 20110 Comments

Birds of Morni: Common Tailorbird

Common Tailorbird (Orthotomus sutorius) is a tiny, energetic olive-green bird with a brownish crown and white underparts. The tail remains upright at a jaunty angle with two elongated feathers. It hops around confidently on the ground. It is found all over the contry,  in scrub area, in urban lawns and shrubbery. It has a loud […]

November 21, 20110 Comments

Birds of Morni: Shikra

Shikra (Accipiter badius) is a lightly built hawk the size of a pigeon. The hawk is ashy blue-grey above and white below. The breast is cross barred rusty brown. The females are larger than the males and appear browner. The tail has broad blackish cross bars.  Shikra can be seen hunting in lightly wooded country […]

November 21, 20112 Comments

Birds of Morni: Grey Francolin

Grey Francolin/ Safed Teetar (Francolinus pondicerianus) is about 2 feet in length. Is plump and greyish – brown and is barred throughout. The face and throat is pale. A black border marks the throat. The tail is short and chestnut. Males have spurs on the legs. It is found in open, thorny scrub areas around fields and villages, […]

November 21, 20110 Comments

Birds of Morni: Spotted Dove

Spotted or Mottled Dove/ Mountain Dove/ Pearl-necked or Lace-necked Dove (Spilopelia chinensis) a common, buff brownlong-tailed pigeon of Indian subcontinent with a prominent white-spotted black collar on the back and both sides of the neck.The body is a rosy-buff and the wings are mottled with white/ rufous. A long and slim dove that moves around […]

November 21, 20110 Comments

Birds of Morni: Blue Rock Pigeon

Blue Rock pigeon

November 21, 20110 Comments

Birds of Morni: Cattle Egret

Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis) is a 2 feet long long stocky/hunched bird with white plummage, a sturdy yellow bill and greyish yellow legs. It has a wingspan of 3 feet and the adults develop orange-buff plumes during breeding season.Its genus name Bubulcus is Latin for ‘herdsman’conveying its intimate relation to cattle.It feeds on ticks and […]

November 21, 20110 Comments

Birds of Morni: Black-winged Kite

Black-winged Kite (Elanus caeruleus) a small bird of prey with long falcon-like wings is grey with white underparts and black shoulder patches, wing tips and eye stripe. The face is owl like with forward facing eyes and red iris. The tail is short and square and not forked as is typical of kites.The bird is […]

November 21, 20110 Comments

Hills of Morni: Purple Sunbird

Purple Sunbird (Cinnyris asiaticus) is a small (4″) sunbird with a short down-curved bill that feeds mainly on nectar. The male is a glossy metallicpurplish black while the females are olive above and yellowish below. Unlike the humming bird they rarely hover at flowers and rather perch to forage for nectar. The bird has a […]

November 21, 20110 Comments

Birds of Morni: Common Hoopoe

Common Hoopoe is a medium-sized bird colourful bird with a distinctive crown of feathers and a thin tapering black bill that it can open while probing inside soil. It has strong broad rounded wings that make them fast in flight. It feeds largely on insects foraging in the soil with the strong bill in open […]

November 21, 20110 Comments

Birds of Morni: Indian Chat

Indian Chat (Cercomela fusca) is the size of a sparrow. It is plain brown above, rufous-brown below with darker wings and blackish tail. It is seen in rocky hills and feeds on insects on the ground. The song is sweet during the breeding season (February to August).  It makes a nest in rock-clefts etc with rootlets.

November 21, 20110 Comments

Birds of Morni: Red Jungle Fowl

Red Junglefowl (Gallus gallus) belongs to the pheasant family and is native to the thick jungles of South Asia. The male can be over 2 feet in length and has a large red fleshy crest on the head and wattles hanging from the throat. Bright golden-bronze feathers extending from the neck to the lower back […]

November 21, 20110 Comments

Birds of Morni: Pied Bushchat

Pied Bushchat (Saxicola caprata) is a small bird, the size of a sparrow. The male is a lustrous black with white rump and abdomen. A prominent white patch on the wing is conspicous during flight. The female is earth-brown and the rump is pale, rusty coloured. The bird is visible in scrub forests in plains […]

November 21, 20110 Comments

Birds of Morni: Verditer Flycatcher

Verditer Flycatcher (Eumyias thalassina) an eye-catching blue-green bird that is slightly larger than the sparrow. It hunts singly on flies from its perch on exposed tree tops.  It captures insects in mid air. It can be spotted in well wooded country. The males sing a sweet jingle during breeding season. It makes a thick cup […]

November 21, 20110 Comments

Birds of Morni: Oriental Magpie Robin

Oriental Magpie Robin (Copsychus saularis), once a popular cagebird, is a 7″ distinctive black and white bird with a long tail held upright while foraging.The male has black upper parts, head and throat with a prominent white shoulder patch. The underparts are white. Females are greyish black above and greyish white below.It is found in […]

November 21, 20110 Comments

Hills of Morni: Indian Robin

Indian Robin (Saxicoloides fulicata) An energetic bird with a brown crown and back. The breast and underparts are a deep blue or black. The long tail is held upright and a rusty red bottom is visible. The birds can be seen in dry, open rocky scrubs around villages and feed on insects on the ground. […]

November 21, 20110 Comments

Birds of Morni: Rose-ringed Parakeet

Rose-ringed Parakeet (Psittacula krameri) about a foot and a half in length, the males sport a red ring around the neck. A noisy and gregarious bird that has successfully adapted to urbanisation and loss of habitat. they feed on buds, fruits, vegetables, nuts, berries and seeds and are a menace to orchards and crops.it can […]

November 21, 20110 Comments

Birds of Morni: Plum-headed Parakeet

Plum-headed Parakeet (Psittacula cyanocephala) a green parrot about a foot in length with an 8″ tail is found in forests and open country. The male has a red head with shades of blue at the margins and a narrow black collar. The rump and tailis bluish-green. The shoulder has a prominent red patch. The tail […]

November 21, 20110 Comments

Hills of Morni: Blue Whistling Thrush

Blue Whistling Thrush      

November 21, 20110 Comments

Birds of Morni: White-earred Bulbul

White-earred Bulbul

November 21, 20110 Comments

Birds of Morni: Red-vented Bulbul

Red-vented Bulbul/ Kala bulbul in Hindi (Pycnonotus cafer bengalensis) a bird of open scrub forests. The head is black/ dark brown and appears squarish because of the short black crest. Body is dark brown and scaly. The rump is white and the vent is a conspicous red. TBulbuls feed on fruits; nectar (of semal flower, banana, […]

November 21, 20110 Comments

Birds of Morni: Black Drongo

Black Drongo/ King Crow (Dicrurus macrocercus)a glossy black bird nearly a foot in length with a distinctive forked tail and short legs.It is found in open fields or lightly wooded area and aggressively attacks any bird of prey or crow that enters its territory. It can be seen perched fearlessly and conspicously on transmission/telegraph lines […]

November 21, 20110 Comments

Birds of Morni: Indian Grey Hornbill

  Indian Grey Hornbill    

November 21, 20110 Comments

Birds of Morni: White-breasted Kingfisher

 White-breasted Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis) is a brilliant turquoise-blue kingfisher with a deep chocolate-brown head, neck and underparts. The chest is white, conspicous against the deep brown. The bill is long, pronounced, heavy, pointed and red in colour. A white patch on the wing shows prominently in flight. It is seen at ponds, rain puddles, paddy […]

November 18, 20110 Comments

Birds of Morni: Red-billed Blue Magpie

Red-billed Blue Magpie (Urocissa erythrorhyncha) is a magpie with the longest tail in the crow family. The bird is over two feet in length and weighs nearly a quarter of a kilogram. The head, neck and breast are black with a bluish spotting on the crown. The shoulders and rump are a duller blue and […]

November 18, 20110 Comments

Birds of Morni: Indian Treepie

Indian Treepie/ Rufous Treepie (Dendrocitta vagabunda) is a member of the crow family. The body is bright rufous coloured, head is black and the tail is long, graduated and bluish-grey with a black tip.The bill is stout, black and hooked. The wing has a white patch. The underparts are orange-brown.Wing coverts are white and the […]

November 18, 20110 Comments

Birds of Morni: Lesser Golden-backed Woodpecker

Lesser Golden-backed Woodpecker / Black-rumped Flameback (Dinopium benghalense) is a large wooodpecker (10- 12 inches)with prominent golden-yellow wing coverts, a black rump, a white head and a red crown and crest (black fore-crown with duller red rear-crown in females/ younger birds). The throat is black with white spots. Underparts are white.The bill is straight and […]

November 18, 20110 Comments

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