Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Muddy waters after the rains

Those of you like me, who live away from Puttenahalli Lake, would be wondering how the lake looks after the torrential rains of the past couple of days. The pictures of Bangalore on television showed that the rains were so heavy that roads became like rivers, complete with floating boats. So the image of the lake that I had was one brimming with water. This was not far from reality, but it's muddy water!


15th Aug 2017

Fellow trustee Nupur shared some pictures after surveying the area yesterday. "Continuous heavy rains created a lot of changes in the lake", she wrote.

Drains with trash are common in Bangalore and the rapidly gushing storm water drain streams that feed the lake brought with them lots of undesirables. The silt traps where we'd fitted grills caught a lot of trash. There were other places however, where the trash flowed in.



The wetland is totally spoilt. Our floating islands are scattered all around and will need to be rescued.



Mud from the neighbouring plot flowed onto the walking track making it like a river of quick sand and risky for anyone to walk there.


Much needs to be done to bring back the normalcy of a few days ago. Our staff has their hands full. And as they worked today, the birds, the fish and the snakes were found enjoying the new muddy waters.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Butterfly walk at Doresanipalya reserve forest, 13th Aug 2017

If you haven't heard about the Bangalore Butterfly Club (BBC), read this article which appeared in The Hindu two days ago.

BBC is organising the next walk this Sunday, on 13th August at the Doresanipalya Reserve Forest, Arekere Mico Layout, which is reputed to have no less than 125 species! These walks typically start at 9 a.m. and end by noon. 

This is a wonderful opportunity for those even just a little interested in butterflies. If you'd like to join BBC on this walk, please confirm your participation at the earliest to Rohit Girotra <rohitashwa18@gmail.com>. Don't forget to give your mobile number as well. He needs to take prior permission from the forest department.

Have a great walk!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Wetland rejuvenation project at Puttenahalli Lake

Invariably these days visitors to the lake ask one question - what are those floating platforms in the water? Those of you who follow our updates on the lake would know that these are the Artificial Floating Islands we had first introduced in June last year. That was also when we signed an MoU with the BMS College of Engineering to test the lake water every month. Three prototype islands were joined by more. The plant species in the platforms increased and the water sampling points went up from four to seven. 

The BMS reports began to show a steady improvement.  The results from site 1 (wetland) for July 2016 and 2017 are given further below along with an analysis of the results.  As laymen, we believe what we see. We see the plants in the AFIs thriving (especially the Canna and how!). We see schools of fish and birds gorging on them (and growing plump!). The eyesore in our lake was the wetland which is a crucial biofilter site but needs to be tended more rigorously than perhaps the rest of the lake since this is the main entry point for rain water. We decided to revamp the wetland which was an unholy mess with trash galore and water snakes everywhere. We came up with a plan to make the vegetation easy to maintain using the floating platforms. 

BBMP cleared the area in February and then again in April. Almost at once, the entire wetland became covered with sticky duckweed. The wetland which looked like a jungle now looked like thick pea soup! We remembered that the duckweed usually kept away during the monsoon hence decided to divert the treated water into the wetland. Voila! The duckweed vanished like magic!

Since then, from May this year our gardeners have been steadily lining the entire inner boundary of the wetland with the floating platforms. Now they are in the process of installing AFIs rows within this bund. The smallest one in front of a silt trap is done. Giving enough space for a coracle, we will perhaps have three to four rows of platforms each with different species of plants. The photos in this link tell the story of our Floating Treatment Wetland:  https://goo.gl/photos/rmHGqJ1GsXai51tb7 

Wetland to the left of the stones, 20th Jun 2016

Wetland rejuvenation in progress, 29th Jun 2017

Our heartfelt thanks to our CSR partners in this project VMWare and Deloitte Shared Services India Pvt. Ltd.  Some of their volunteers made a few platforms as well. We are grateful to BMSCE for conducting the monthly water tests. Ever since we publicised the news of our AFIs last November, several lake teams have been visiting us. We are very happy to share our experience with all. 

See below are the lab reports of  water sample collected from the wetland at Puttenahalli lake. 
                                                      Sample  (Wetland)

Parameter                             July 2016    July 2017

pH                                                 6.81                 7.1
Turbidity                               18.6 NTU        20 NTU          
Dissolved Oxygen                  2 mg/lt          3 mg/lt           
BOD                                        188 mg/lt      62 mg/lt         
Total Solids                         2974 mg/lt      1920 mg/lt
Nitrates                                   68 mg/lt        28 mg/lt         
Phosphates                              21 mg/lt        18 mg/lt         

One of our volunteers, S.K. Srinivas, a pharmacologist, bio-chemist and birder analysed the results. His report is given below: 

"Overall, a good picture. Key points:

BOD (biological oxygen demand) : This is the primary indicator of water pollution. Lower the BOD level, the better is water quality.  Compared to what it was a year ago, the BOD has decreased dramatically.  That's really good. However, since BOD of 20 mg/liter is still considered severe pollution, we have some way to go. But, really good work all the same.

Nitrates / phosphates:   Significant reduction since the past year.  In a literal sense, there is less crap in the water!

Dissolved oxygen:  Has gone up since the past year. Very good. This, I think, is due to the floating islands.

Total solids:    Significant reduction.

Turbidity of the water has increased marginally since what it was a year ago. We need to see why this happening. Turbid water prevents sunlight from getting through the water and decreases plant photosynthesis. It may be due to the increased traffic inside the lake, i.e, increased use of coracle for fishing and weeding. Or it could even be the fish." 

And boy, do we have fish at the lake! :-)

Best
Usha


Monday, July 31, 2017

Tales to Tell - storytelling event on 23-Jul-2017

On July 23rd we had a lovely storytelling session by Vikram Sridhar of Around the Story Tree


Pics by Mithun Prabhu

We asked a couple of parents who attended the session with their children to tell us what they thought about the storytelling event. Here is what they reported:

Report by Nidhi Chawla
Stories hold a special place in childhood. However, if as parents or grandparents we are unable to pass on this legacy to our young ones, there are new age story tellers to come to the rescue. Vikram Sridhar is one such professional story teller who came to tell stories to our kids last weekend at the Puttenahalli lake, JP Nagar. 
His engaging style kept the kids involved and excited. The tale of Amur falcons interspersed with a message of conservation and a tale of two sister birds and their bonding seemed appropriate for the venue where the event was held - the Puttenahalli Lake, the pride of our neighborhood, conserved and maintained by PNLIT. 
The kids vied for their turn to don the hats of a falcon, the hunter, the policeman and many other characters in the stories. Their laughter and the excited looks on their faces made it an afternoon spent well with the bonus of enjoying the splendor of nature in the middle of the city.


Report by Mithun Prabhu
Though a father of two children, I still remember listening to the stories told by my parents and grandparents and drifting off to sleep. Stories beautiful and engrossing, told with so much love. Those days are long gone as also perhaps the narrative skill in parents but thankfully we have a few enterprising and energetic Story Tellers like Vikram Sridhar who came to Puttenahalli Lake to tell children not one but two stories.
He came dressed in ethnic kurta and dhoti, started off with a bang, and from the word go engaged the kids, and pulled them into his stories. He lived the roles, made the kids join him, made them roll over in laughter, jump, dance and more importantly got everyone to speak up, answer his questions, participate in role playing, making it all a two way communication. The kids had a whale of a time that day, in a pristine lake environment, with green trees and a cool breeze blowing. It was not only the kids, but some of the parents too who were deeply engrossed in his stories, reliving perhaps their childhood days!
It was a splendid one hour spent with constructive and good use of the time, bonding between kids, parents and everyone assembled at the lake. All thanks to Vikram Sridhar and to Nupur, Usha, Sapana and team PNLIT.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Nothing fishy about this

A thriving Puttenahalli Lake full of water is a great sight. If there is one person happier than us at PNLIT, it must be Yellappa, the man who got the fishing contract for our lake. About a year ago he had released fingerlings of several species such as the Indian Catla, Rohu, Mrigal and the Chinese Carp (Common, Silver and Grass). He also introduced Snakehead, called Varal locally which according to the Fisheries Dept. is not grown much in our city. It is expensive and is a delicious fish.

Yellappa and men fishing, 10th May 2017

Snakehead aka Varal (Pic: Madhurima Das)

The fish are growing very well and Yellappa has begun harvesting to sell in his shop. Each time he enters the lake with his net, a crowd gathers along the side to watch him and his team throw a net into the water and draw it in with a mix of fish in different sizes.

Interested onlookers

A few days ago at about 8 a.m. when the place was crowded with morning walkers, children going to school and idlers, he got a whopper that made everyone drool. They had netted a Silver Carp, weighing over 5 kgs.

Silver Carp, 31st May 2017 (Pic courtesy Yellappa)

A young Cormorant with catch, 4th June 2017 (Pic: Madhurima Das)

Yellappa now prefers to fish at 2 a.m. The seasoned angler that he is, the dark does not faze him.  He "knows" where the fish will be, catches them, throws the smaller ones back into the water and collects the rest in his baskets. No one is around at that time to drool over Yellappa's catch. No one sees how many he gets and how big each fish is. We don't get any part of his collection, neither in catch nor in cash but as long as he ensures there's enough fish for the birds we are happy. 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Puttenahalli Lake Bird and Fauna Update

Here's an interesting collection of photos taken by Madhurima, last Sunday at the lake. 

Bronze-winged Jacana

Calotes

Fish

Greater Coucal

Oriental Darter (Snakebird)

Purple Swamphen chick


The pre-monsoon rain has increased the level considerably and the lake looks beautiful (pic by Geetha Srikrishnan).

29th May 2017

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Deccan Herald Spotlight - Interactive Discussion

Deccan Herald has organised a discussion on  "Bringing Bellandur and Varthur Lakes Back to Life." As one of the panellists, Usha Rajagopalan intends to share lessons from our Puttenahalli Lake experience. Please attend if convenient.

Saturday 27th May at the East Cultural Association, 100 ft Road, Indira Nagar, Time: 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.



On another note, here is a recent picture of our lake taken on 25th May 2017. The lake indeed looks gorgeous with so much water. The rain last night has brought in lots more! At this rate, we can expect it to overflow this year as well. :-)

Puttenahalli Lake, 25th May 2017

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Bird watch update

If you haven't visited the lake recently, you should. It is looking great, water rippling and glinting in the sun, fish darting everywhere.

Even if you are not a birder, you cannot miss the birds - Coots, Swamp Hens, Kingfishers and more, but it takes an experienced hand to spot the chicks. Here's the latest report and pictures by our "resident birder," Madhurima Das, who visits the lake every weekend to do a census on the birds at Puttenahalli Lake. 

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At the lake this Sunday (7th May) there were many birds. Besides our usual suspects, we had both purple and grey heron, a little egret, little cormorant, a common moorhen and 2 spot billed ducks.

The bronze wing jacanas, and a night heron, brought out their respective chicks. There was also a third bronze wing jacana which was being chased around by the chick's parents. The jacana chick also attracted a brahminy kite, but, luckily for the chick, it wasn't caught.

There were also flocks of flower peckers and tailor birds. 

Black-crowned Night Heron with chick

Little Cormorant and Little Egret

Little Egret

Purple Swamphen

Rose-ringed Parakeet

Bronze-winged Jacana with chick