|A quick doodle of the kudremukh scape from my photograph|
The random bunch of 6 that we were, set out, all geared up, to feel the wetness of the monsoons. The little critters on the forest floor, the sorts of wildflowers that seem to peak out from the carpet of grass, the loud wavering strum of cicadas from within the sholas & a gazillion other calls and sights enriched the whole experience of a typical monsoon trek.
The leeches were least of our worries as we were happily trotting along with leech sock. It was those continuous steep downhills that bought out a ‘sigh’ at times. Our wet clothes, wet shoes accompanied by the chilly breeze and hunger, almost made us frown at one *particular* instance; but that biting-cold numbness and pain, was still hidden by harmless stares, giggles and laughter !
There wasn’t too much of a birdlife to exclaim about, because of the rains, the clouds and the canopies. However, we did get to see schimitar babblers, bar-winged flycatcher shrikes, scarlet minivets, malabar grey hornbills and such. Every once in a while, we could hear the Flameback’s rattling call, as it zips past the trees in the valley and watch a lone black winged kite hovering motionless above the canopy.
We enjoyed observing much of the flora around as we walked. One by one, we all peered down to see the little insectivorous plants beside our feet, Drosera peltata, trying to stand tall, yet too small and hidden within the grass. Two beautiful ground orchids, Habenaria grandifloriformis & Habenaria heyneana, were in bloom. The pretty inflorescence of Bulbophyllum mysorense and Eria mysorensis, clad on to branches in huge clusters like an adornment on the tree. We walked past many species of dendrobiums, oberonias & tons of other orchid species which i fail to ID yet! As if the trees needed more to enhance them, they were further dressed with moss, ferns and lichens.
Thanks to Ishan who found a caecilean sp., a rare find, high up in the grasslands. Yet another very cool find was the rare, endangered and endemic species of the Western Ghats, Ansonia ornata (Ghatophryne ornata), Black Torrent toad. An otherwise small, drab, dark colored toad, until you see their belly which is reddish with bright golden yellow spots!
Must say… Abhisheka, Ishan, Manju, Payal & Ramya… you are all such wonderful buddies to get lost with in a beautiful green wonderland!