The Magarpatta City Environment Club has been set up to bring together nature lovers of all age groups onto a common platform to appreciate nature in all its dimensions – from the Eagles soaring in the sky to Termites and other insects crawling on the ground and in water. We have an excellent opportunity to study the vast flora & fauna within the confines our gated Magarpatta City itself. Therefore to start with, the Club has focused on nature walks here.
The first Nature Walk of 2014 was conducted in ADITI Garden on Sunday, 17th August 2014 from 7 AM to 8.30 AM where a group of approx 15 enthusiasts met near the water body to appreciate the beauty of this manmade wetland eco system. On subsequent Sundays till 2nd November 2014 we have covered different sections of the garden.
On 9th November 2014 we covered a section of the Main Avenue from ADITI Garden up to the Mist Fountain. The Water Body has been fixed as the meeting point to commence the Nature Walks every Sunday morning in Magarpatta City.
It is proposed to hold excursions to nearby places of interest like Rajiv Gandhi National Park at Kartraj, Pashan Lake, College of Military Engineering, Dapodi, Banks of Mulla- Mutha River near Manjiri, Khadakvasala Dam and Bigvan Lake, which is approx 120 kms. away on the Sholapur Highway. These excursions shall be conducted during the period Dec 2014 to March 2015. Details will be publicized through the Environment Club Website.
The first excursion is scheduled for Sunday, 14th December 2014 to Peacock Bay at Khadakvasala Dam. On each Walk we see a few new faces teaming up with the core group of 10-12 enthusiasts.
This being a purely voluntary activity, we use the occasion to share our knowledge and experience on the flora & fauna and other environment related activities. In a short span of time we have managed to get on board experts in Botony like Mrs. Nandinidevi Pratinidhi (64 yrs) and Dr Revati (60+) of Laburnum Park to identify different herbs, shrubs and trees for the benefit of others. Mrs. Bindu Sudrik (71 yrs) of Cosmos and Dr Niranjan Divekar from Daffodils have been enlightening us on the medicinal value of different plants and their traditional uses.
Others with engineering and telecom background have chipped in while we studied and discussed Spider webs, Beehive Honeycombs, Ant Hills and Termite Mounds to discuss how man has copied nature to improve his living conditions. Dr. Diwekar with his child like inquisitiveness and enthusiasm & Brig. Prakash Gogale (Retd) have stepped in and conducted the walks in my absence.
We have a few budding environmentalist in Yajat Goel (10 yrs), Tanvi Kalase (10 yrs), Anannya Divekar (11 yrs) and Annika Kanwar (13 yrs). We look forward to more youngsters joining in, since they are our future and they will certainly find it invigorating to connect with nature.
One of the planned activities is photographing and recording the flora & fauna of Magarpatta City. Photographs contributed by enthusiasts till now have been appended to this Report along with credits. We look forward to more enthusiasts sharing their photographs with the larger audience. In due course it is planned to annotate some of these photographs with short descriptions.
We also look forward to Artists sharing their sketches/ paintings of the flora & fauna in Magarpatta City on this platform. One such Artist is Mrs Sulabha Sagwekar (60+) residing at Zinnia. A Graduate from the JJ School of Art, Mumbai, she creates masterpieces from pressed & dried flowers & leaves. She has volunteered to share her expertise with the Club Members through a demonstration which is tentatively planned for during the visit to the National Defence Academy on 14th December 2014.
In due course when there is adequate strength, we shall also have theme based Painting and Drawing Competitions for different age groups on special occasions.
The first two months got consumed in studying the flora & fauna in the ADITI Garden, the central show piece of Magarpatta City. The water body here is teeming with activity. Resident species of birds like Snow Geese, Spot billed Duck, Black – necked Grebe, White Breasted Water Hen, Little Egret, Pond Heron and Little Cormorant are a common sight. Other birds, which can be easily spotted in this water body, which looks colorful with its variety of Lotus, are the White Breasted Kingfisher, Yellow-wattle Lapwing and a pair of Spotted Owlets. Other Resident species of perching birds, which are easy to spot, are the Black Kite, Common Crow, Jungle Crow, Black Drongo, Koel, Red- vented Bulbul, Red – whiskered Bulbul, Common Tailorbird, a variety of Prinias & Warblers, Sunbird, Sparrow and Common Myna. I have benefited immensely by getting to know their colloquial names from other enthusiasts.
Since late October, migratory species like Green Bee-eater, Yellow Wagtail, Grey Wagtail and Common Swallow have started making their presence felt. We shall be able to study them till they depart around March-April 2015.
The Club members have also decided to study the nesting behavior of a pair of Black Kites, which paired up in late July. Their initial attempts to build a nest on an Eucalyptus tree near the water body was thwarted by crows who kept pestering them right up to end September, before finally succeeding in destroying the abandoned nest. The pair has now shifted base to another Eucalyptus tree in the grove near the water body. Look out for periodic updates on this pair of Black Kite, as we intend to track them till the chicks hatch and take wing a few months from now.
In addition to the above we have local migrants like the Lesser Coucal, Indian Tree-pie, Golden Oriole, Shikra and Indian Grey Hornbill. They visit Magarpatta City in search of food, probably from Empress Gardens, especially when the trees of the Ficus species are in fruit.
The ADITI Garden also has a wide variety of trees, shrubs herbs and grasses. We studied the different types of Bamboos and Palms like the Fishtail or Sago Palm, Royal Palm, Coconut Palm, Wild Date Palm and Cane Palm, variety of Eucalyptus & Acacia trees and Ficus like Peepal (Ficus religiosa), Ficus benjamina, Banyan (Ficus benghalensis), Rubber (Ficus elastic), Scarlet Cordia, Silk ␣ cotton tree, Tabebuia Avellaneda & Argentae (Purple & Golden Yellow flowers), variety of Bahunias, African Tulip Tree (Spatodia campanulata), Scarlet Bottle Brush, Rain Tree (Samanea saman), Jangli Badam(Sterculia foetida), Tree Fern etc. The list is endless. We appreciated the similarity between the Flame Bean (Brownea coccinea) and the Sita Ashok (Saraca asoca) and many others with similar looking leaves and flowers.
We had animated discussions on native vs exotic species. We appreciated the beauty of leaves, barks and flowers (some are fragrant). These activities helped us appreciate trees & shrubs better. Our enthusiasts have photographed some of these.
The ADITI Garden is also home to a number of Mammals, Reptiles and a wide variety of insects like Dragon flies, Damsel flies, Grasshoppers, Spiders, Ants, Termites etc. We took time off to appreciate their beauty and usefulness. We look forward to other residents with knowledge on the subject sharing it with the Club members during future walks.
The response from September onwards has been encouraging. I am confident that we shall be able to gain momentum in the days ahead. I take this opportunity to thank Mr. Paresh Poonatar of Laburnum Park for helping me in posting this report on the Website. It has been a Team effort from day one and one is looking forward to further strengthening the bonds of friendship that are developing in the Club.