Sunday, December 13, 2009

Breakfast with butterflies - second event report.

This event was held a month later after the first "breakfast with Butterflies" ;

The Butterfly conservatory of Goa, at Pisgal, Ponda is a place tucked away in the vast Keri Hills, a place butterflies and Rohit Heblekar call it their home.
This program was different from the last one not in the nature of the program but because it started with breakfast first for me, Amit and Hazrat thanks to Mrs Joyti Heblekar.
The guest and members assembled in the Conservatories newly built Reception Centre, Rohit with his usual zeal and passion explained to the guest the importance of butterflies in the ecosystem and the structure of the conservatory, which involves garden which has a variety of host plants which acts as breeding places for the butterflies and the feeder and the flowering plants which sustain the caterpillars and butterflies in the adult stages. The butterflies does not get all the nutrients from the nectar alone so they soak the deficient nutrients from damp soil this activity is called mud puddling.
Rohit then brought out some caterpillars and a pupa of a Common crow butterfly, the pupa was shinny golden in colour. It looked like a newly made gold pendant remarked one of the ladies, none of us had ever seen anything like it before.Rohit also announced the opening of the stream which is 25 meters long, arguable it could qualify for the longest man made stream in Goa.
The participants were divided into two groups one led by Rohit and the other led by me. The butterfly observation began in earnest, the Tamil lacewing the grand was first to make an appearance, the pair of Malabar Banded Peacocks courtship dance stole everybody’s heart, Southern Birdwing the Mr. Big floated effortlessly over our heads. Amit and I took up the challenge of identifying the small butterflies of the Blues and skipper families, we were lucky to get some great shots of a Quaker, a Cerulean, Plains Cupid and a Small Branded Swift.
Rohit and his wards had equally good sightings of the winged beauties. At 10.30 am Rohit called for an intermission and served snacks. He popped a bottle of Coke and poured me a drink as if it were Champagne, his sweaty face shining with satisfaction of a man who has worked hard and the sweet fruits of his hard work now enjoyed by everybody.
After a short break began round two, the time was about 10.45 am by this time the conservatory was flooded with sunlight and was alive with butterflies the Tailed Jays, Dark Wanders, Laskars, Grey Pansy, Red Helen, Common Jezebel, Tamil Lacewing, Common Sailors, Common Rose, Striped Tiger, Glassy Tiger, Spotted Grass Yellow, Common Emigrant, Chocolate Pansy, Malabar Banded Peacocks and more were busy feeding on nectar the display was mesmerizing.
Then the royalty made an appearance the Red Spot Duke, the Grey Count, a Cruiser, and finally the Great Black Rajah. The tally was 39 species and the total count was 88 butterflies.
The participants assembled at the reception centre for the closing of the program, Rohit thanked everybody with a promise to upgrade soon. Not that anybody could find any fault with Rohit and his families hospitality, the participant showered praise on his laudable effort all evident in the visitors book.
These winged beauties have pleased the dwellers of this earth long before man came into existence but looks like we have not served them well, by the indiscriminate use of chemical pesticides and deforestation the very existence of butterflies now stands threatened. We members of the Butterfly Conservatory of Goa through such sensitization programs wish to get the message across.
Jagdish Katkar.

Event - Breakfast with Butterflies : a report by Jagdish Katkar

Pisgal is a place in Curti, Ponda nestled in the foothills of Keri Hills, where resides Rohit Heblekars dream ‘The butterfly Conservatory of Goa’. The place is a small niche in the large expanse of the great Western Ghats. We friends, well-wishers and Butterfly lovers dream with him of having a world class butterfly conservatory put in place.

I received a email from Rohit announcing the ‘The breakfast with Butterflies ‘program with a aim to spread awareness of butterfly conservation amongst young school going children. The invitation came with a promise to show 25 species of butterflies, larvae, pupae and all. I liked the idea very much so I invited my friend Milind Tamhane his wife and daughter to attend the program.
On the Sunday morning of 11th oct 2009 we met at the appointed place at the conservatories would be reception centre. As this program was first of its kind, Rohit and his wife looked a little nervous , he said to me agitatedly ‘the last weeks untimely rain has ruined the lanterna flowers , which attracts the butterflies the most, with them gone how are we going to show 25 species as promised’ exclaimed Rohit.
After everybody was assembled Rohit gave an introductory speech about the aims, objectives and the benefits of the Butterfly Conservatory and the Role of local plants in sustaining butterfly population. Then he led the guests through the garden for the main program of butterfly watching. The first butterfly to make an appearance was Blue Mormon the majestic, and then came Red Helen the gorgeous, Malabar Banded Peacock the King, common Rose, the Palm fly, the Grey Count and more. The mood was set the Children were overjoyed. The little children mingling with the beautiful butterflies is a sight to behold.

An hour had passed Rohit was now a little relaxed seeing everything was going on as per plan. He approached me and asked me what was the count, I said 15 species I assured don’t worry I will see that we get to the target count of 25 species. With a renewed vigor I, Manoj and Rohit started searching for more. Then suddenly it started to happen Rohit shouted a Psyche is coming your way, then I spotted the Monkey puzzle, next to him was the Plum Judy then came two Angled Pierots , a Southern Birdwing, a Baron ,Niggers, Bush Browns, a Laskar and more Grey Counts.
The time was 11.30am and it was time to leave, Rohit called all the guest for a snack, debriefing and goodby . The species count was well past 25 it was 27 precisely and the total no of butterflies seen was 81. The event was a success thanks to Rohit and his family’s hard work.
So friends let us study and preserve this beautiful creation called butterfly and conserve its habitat so that butterflies and our future is safe for eternity.

The news item that made the difference

From being a totally unknown and limited effort , this article by Mr Somnath Maitri of Times of India changed the scale and support for the conservatory !
The power of the press once agin proved - in a positive way !!