Birding · Photography

Look up- Treetops in the park!


I’m truly inspired by this week’s challenge – ‘’Look up”. Yet, when I searched for tall buildings I was reminded by reality that there are none around. Where I live now, in Jaipur India, a large part of the city was is short of about three centuries old. This is a heritage quarter and we residents all love it very much. The tallest building in that part is a stand-alone tower that commemorates a victory for the city’s king, sometime in the mid eighteenth century, but that story, some other time. The other buildings are limited by a code to be at most four stories. I have digressed however, the challenge only says ‘’ Look Up’’ and so I take it that it is not necessarily at buildings.

Every morning, for the last seven years, I have walked a fair distance as my daily exercise routine – sometimes I walk four kilometers, sometimes seven, sometimes longer. I love that walk and take the time to introspect and wonder about the general direction that my life has taken so far. The additional benefits of this walk are observing local life, breathing fresh air and a sense of invigoration that propels me through the day. In particular, I enjoy looking at tree-tops. This might sound odd to you, but the upper echelons of a tree are fascinating places – and a change in perspective does make you admire nature’s givers in a whole new way.

These trees in the park are all quite dissimilar from one another, and each serves a purpose unique. It only takes a moment to find what is so unique – all I did was stop and observe. The first such was a lovely yellow flower bearing tree. When it flowers, in the months of march and April, it has already shed most of its leaves and the branches, slightly upwards turned, are a shock of yellow.

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This is the familiar Indian Laburnum tree also known as Golden Shower tree. Called in Hindi Amaltas or Cassia Fistula, it has great value in Indian Ayurveda system of medicine and traditional healing. Its seed-pods that grow up to two feet in length bear dark brown, hard seeds. These seeds can be boiled in water and the resultant extract is useful to cure many ailments such as cough, cold, mild fever all because it is a strong purgative. The flowers themselves are undeniably pretty – especially so when I looked up through them and the sunlight filtered down.

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On another day, I saw this gentleman shaking up a tree and I immediately suspected he must be after something that the tree gives. Trees are such generous givers after all – they give shade, fruit, safe harbour to birds and animals, fodder and eventually, their own lives.

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In this case, the tree was giving these interesting fruit – they look a bit like a small green snake that has overeaten. They are seed pods which, when ripe, open up to reveal edible white flesh. The tree and fruit are called ‘Jungle jalebi’ for it looks like the north Indian dessert – jalebi but of course it comes off a tree. It has a sour taste but many like it! Surprisingly, Pithecellobium dulce (scientific name) is native to mexico but extensively naturalized in India and grows well and widely in Rajasthan, Gujarat and other places where there’s arid climate.

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The next one – a common tree, here, the Indian Elm is often called the monkey biscuit tree, for when its fruit are ripe, they are gladly picked up by the local rhesus macaques. The fruit, an airborne disc, is light and the harsh winds of the Desert here in Rajasthan carry it far and wide thus propagating the species. The number of seeds is so high that in early summer, the ground around them is seen carpeted with these seeds. In the photo below, you may see the yellow patches on the green grass.

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So, gardeners often take the trouble to quickly shake off most of these airborne seeds, they are collected and sold and people enjoy them. I have had a few myself! To be honest while they taste a bit like chestnut but of course they are much smaller and the effort therefore can be tiring. The trees need to be divested of these seeds as inside a park, an uncontrolled propagation can mean significant growth when the rainy season comes. In this photo, the gardener was doing a great job of shaking up this monkey biscuit tree – some floated close to my camera’s lens!

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Then there are some trees that appear laden neither with fruit nor flower and can give limited shade for they appear, sorry to say, almost naked. For example, here’s a photograph of a tree I’ve seen only in Rajasthan. They day I had photographed it, my father, a botanist told me the name, but now it eludes me. I shall ask him again.

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These trees grow fast and tall and strong and thus, the yellow footed green pigeons rather prefer it as a roosting space! I hope you can see the bird-box (it later got occupied by a truculent mynah that forced the docile pigeon onto a branch where he was quite well hidden) Apologies on not getting a shot of the bird – they are creatures of woodland and within cities, wisely stay at a safe distance from humans. Also all the photos in this post were taken with help of my phone camera. Here’s an image taken from Wikipedia –

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So, clearly, looking up has many rewards. It has helped me feel better – I find the entire experience to be a voyage of discovery. My best days are the ones that I spot birds – as it happens I do not carry a full-fledged camera during these early mornings, but what the eyes see and the mind remembers is a far better reward than anything an electronic gadget can produce for the camera is just a memory maker. A few days go, I spotted full grown male peacock. Though I’ve grown up watching peacocks at home – they often come over to the awning over the driveway, I’m always fascinated at their sight. Here’s an excuse of a photo.

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Earlier this year, when the skies were azure and the air cooler, I spotted an Indian grey hornbill – he had strayed out of the park area and was perched at a nearby ficus tree. While the bird fled at the first hint of a man approaching, that tree had nowhere to go – and his pale wood contrasted beautifully against the deep blue.

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Do you enjoy looking up trees? Spotting birds? Feel free to say hello or share this post.  🙂 In case you liked some of these photos, here are my thoughts on how to improve mobile photography – Ten mobile photography tips that just work

That’s all folks!

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6 thoughts on “Look up- Treetops in the park!

  1. The yellow flowering tree photo is gorgeous. Most interesting is the article with all the details. It is certainly an India that I had not pictured before. I love the bare tree against the blue sky as well. Thank you for visiting my blog. We live on opposite sides of the globe, and that makes life interesting. 🙂 Have a great week. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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