Surrounded by a concrete jungle, with IT parks and towering apartments all around, there lies a serene patch of wilderness that transports you into a different world. Saul Kere lake is situated in the midst of a bustling corporate SEZ in the Bellandur area in Bangalore city, off the noisy Outer Ring Road.
The lake has a jogging/cycling track along the periphery which allows access to shrubs and trees that host a wide variety of fauna. One can get to see a lot of common birds in the lake like kingfishers, babblers, cormorants, storks, and swamphens. On a good day one may also see waders and pelicans flocking the lake, if the water levels are good enough. Apart from these avian beauties, if one is keen on observing the smaller forms of life, the lake is a hotspot for the likes of butterflies, moths, wasps, spiders…the list goes on. A lake habitat with an abundant variety of trees, plants and shrubs supports a wide variety of creatures including birds, mammals, fish and insects. The lake needs to be protected and maintained for the species to thrive.
On my very first macro photography outing to the lake, my plan was to cover the entire area in 2-3 hours and then head to a different lake the following week. But, as soon as I entered the gate that opens to the lake area and observed the first green patch on the left, I noticed many dragonflies, damselflies and planthoppers. I ended up spending three hours in that small patch of about 10×10 metres. I realised how much wildlife I was missing out on while birding, as I would normally walk the entire periphery of the lake twice or thrice in search of birds. I didn’t even go manage to go beyond 100/150 meters from the entry point during my first few weeks into shooting macros here. The place was buzzing with activity!
A cluster of stink bug eggs on a small twig. The unborn stink bugs in these eggs would never see the light of day, thanks to the wasp injecting her own eggs into these eggs, with her ovipositor, which will take over the host eggs.
A few weeks later, colour and texture of the stink bug eggs had changed completely.
I found another cluster of stink bug eggs behind some leaves, which I like to call ‘pearls on leaves’. I thought since they are so well concealed, they might not be spotted by a wasp, but wasps are opportunistic.
A few weeks later when I examined the same cluster, I found that some of the eggs were already parasitised by a wasp and there was a new wasp trying its luck on the remaining eggs. A few lucky stink bugs made it, as evidenced by the hatched eggs that are still white in colour.
Lacewing eggs are one of the most unique eggs in the animal kingdom. They are difficult for an insect predator to attack because of the balloon on a stick type of structure. The stick is so delicate that it cannot be climbed upon.
Another interesting egg cluster I found is of the Gum Leaf Skeletoniser moth. These are like multi-storey buildings with different colours on each floor but predominantly black, spread over a gum leaf. The eggs seem to have a transparent coating outside.
However, one of my most memorable sightings of egg clusters will always be this scene, with all eggs hatched and larva aligned around the eggs in an orderly manner, like obedient kids.
I have encountered several fascinating caterpillars of moths and butterflies around the lake. Here is the larva of a Lobster moth. On dry twigs, this caterpillar is so well camouflaged due to its rugged texture, but I saw it constantly devouring leaves of the host plant.
The hairy caterpillar of the Tussock moth is often seen in vibrant colours with vivid patterns on the back. This one was busy munching on a leaf, oblivious to the predator waiting in ambush in the background, a Green Lynx spider.
I witnessed an interesting action sequence involving a tiny Geometrid moth larva and an Orb Weaver spider. The caterpillar was traversing the top end of the web of the spider, when the spider, sitting at the center of the web, sensed movement. It started moving towards the top in the hope of trapping the caterpillar for an easy meal. But the movement of the spider on the web created vibrations that the caterpillar was able to sense, and just as the spider was about to reach the top, the caterpillar did a bungee dive by secreting silk of its own and attaching it to this string of the spider’s web. It went straight down, parallel to the web, and then moved on to a leaf below it, escaping the death grip of the spider. All this happened in a matter of a few seconds, and I couldn’t capture it on video but was so amazing to witness it live.
There are roughly about 160000 species of moths in the world, and they are crucial to the ecosystem as they are excellent pollinators. One of my favorites is the Yellow Peach moth, which I spotted near the lake. Resting on the underside of a leaf high up, I like to call it the sunny side up!
A mating pair of Handmaiden moths seen on a leaf which was backlit the early morning sun.
A rather bizarre but very fascinating moth is the Plume moth. I spotted this individual by a stroke of luck; I was tracking a spider as it was weaving its web, when the moth flew in the background and landed on a leaf.
Wasps are hands down one the most dynamic, active, and opportunistic little insects. They come in all sizes, colours and shapes, always on the move searching for a prey or eggs to parasitise. Here is a Thread-waisted wasp with a needle-like ovipositor.
Another beauty is the Black and Yellow Mud Dauber, a name commonly applied to a number of wasps that build their nests from mud. This excludes members of the family Vespidae (especially the subfamily Eumeninae), which are instead referred to as ‘potter wasps’.
The very common Yellow Potter wasp, with its extraordinary architectural skills is one of my favourites. Due its huge size and vibrant colors, spotting one is relatively easy. I saw this individual resting on a tree bark which had a burrow in it; the wasp was probably planning to build its nest inside that burrow.
Various species of flies are seen at the lake. The robberfly is a notorious one; it is a ferocious hunter and has an extremely vibrant body, especially the large colourful eyes. I photographed this individual on my very first macro photography outing to the lake.
Many species of damselflies are also seen abundantly at the lake, like this Azure Dartlet damselfly, perched perfectly on a lean twig, giving me the perfect opportunity to photograph it.
Saul Kere lake is home to a rich variety of spiders; lynx and jumping spiders being the most commonly seen ones. One can easily spot them with a prey or weaving a web or waiting on ambush for a prey. Seen here is a very well camouflaged Two-Tailed spider with a prey wrapped in its web, probably another spider.
A Long-jawed Orb Weaver spider with a glittering body and long legs will make your day, especially if the sunlight falls on the vibrant body of the spider. Seen here is the spider, beside what looks like a cluster of stink bug eggs that are empty. I wonder if the spider feasted on them.