Friday, December 26, 2008

Jungle Babbler - Seven sisters - nice visitors!

I find each day a flock of winged visitors in my garden at morning or evening. They give a noisy call making me to peep out to have a look at them. Often I see one of them pecking on its image in the rear view mirror of my two wheelers! These visitors are the birds called as the Jungle Babblers , and as Seven sisters in India (Turdoides striata). They have grayish brown feathers, and move the tails often either up or to one of their sides fanning out the tail feathers in the act.

These Jungle Babblers live in the tropical suburban areas only. They are seen only in flocks of seven or more, flying down to the ground or to the tree perch, one after the other following in a line. They fly lowly and do not fly away on seeing human beings; but get alerted and fly away on seeing our advancing movement towards them! As they hop around on the ground they eat insects and worms. Occasionally, they make noisy quarreling sounds with offending Mynas and chase away them!
These wonder babblers frequenting our garden are amusing and nice birds! You can share with me your experience about these birds.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Snow and Ice greet You!

At this time of winter we are reminded also about Santa Claus, Christmas tree and ……… the Snow! Snow is the solid form of water (ice!) found naturally on places having colder and the coldest weather conditions. But I have seen this snow here in our hot Subtropical region also! Yes, but ….. inside the artificial snow showering room of Entertainment Fun centers!

Some exciting factors that I came across, and wondered about this snow are here:

Snow crystals are ice crystals formed directly from water vapors by cold air, and not from the freezing raindrops! They are produced inside the clouds at -10’C. They become hexagonal prisms of ice crystals as they grow by further deposits of ice crystals on their facets. They grow branches on their six corners in the process. As they become heavy (!) enough, they move out of the clouds and float down to earth as Snowflakes! Shapes of these snowflakes vary depending upon temperature and water vapor content. Snowflakes fall down to the earth to become the Snow!

We, people in India, see only the Sand sculptures (Sand art) and wonder! But in the colder countries one can see and wonder about the Snow castles, Ice sculptures, Snowman …etc. etc. at this time of Christmas – like us too, via satellite television!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Soapnut Tree - Ritha - Cleansing hair as Shampoo!

In the past century, women here in Tamilnadu of India used to tie and wear extra entwined hair tufts on their heads. This is to show off about 'their' possession of lengthy hairs and to make up for their actual shorter hairs! I have seen such hair tufts being washed and dried before wearing on. For this a washing solution was prepared by dissolving in water the powder of dried fruits obtained from a tree. We, as children used to play with this solution to blow out bubbles of air through a tube dipped in it! The fruit mentioned here is that of the Soap-nut tree or Ritha (Sapindus trifoliatus, ‘Poonthi kuoattai maram’ in Tamil). It is a berry with a nut inside. Its fleshy part contains Saponin which has surfactant action like that of soaps and detergents! Nowadays this saponin is an ingredient in shampoos.

Another species of the soap-nut tree is found in Himalayan regions grown by Nature by itself (Sapindus mukorossi). It bears larger fruits. Seeds of soap-nut trees are said to germinate easily. But now propagation of this tree by man is drastically low; the tree needs to be grown in all farms as its canopy gives cool shadow, and its fruits have also contraceptive and antimigraine chemicals in addition to its cleansing saponin content.

Soap-nut tree that gives us many such natural products is really a wonder tree among all the other trees, as it was in the past!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Rabies, the Fatal Disease and the Vaccines that prevent it

The disease Rabies is infective. Usually a dog having this disease spreads it to man or other animals by its bites. Rarely domestic animals such as cattle, pigs, and cats and monkeys too can also spread it. When man goes for trekking or hunting in forests he may be bitten by wild animals such as fox, wolf, mongoose and bats, that may have been already infected, and get this disease.

virus causing this disease attacks nerves and brain after entering the body through the bite wounds. As the disease cannot be cured and leads to death quickly, one has to prevent himself from acquiring it by getting himself and also his pet animals vaccinated against it before sustaining any such bite wound. Even after any unexpected bite, the Rabies can be prevented by getting vaccinated! (- but only after immediate washing the bite wounds with soap and water, and applying Povidone-Iodine ointment - for this removes and kills the virus instantly). By taking all these precautionary measures the Rabies can be avoided by all. The wonder vaccines used get all the credits as an incurable and fatal disease is prevented by them!

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