An appreciation of backyard biodiversity during the pandemic: Nature Video

Video showing some of the residents and visitors over the last few months, a handful of examples of urban biodiversity in our backyard.

Author: Ravi Kailas

As keen naturalists we have missed the freedom to travel to natural areas over the last few months. While the aesthetic upside of visiting a wilderness area can never be replicated in an urban environment, this period did inspire us to look closer at the denizens that inhabit the modest green space around our home in Chennai …..  

A passage migrating Blue-throated Blue Flycatcher on a fruiting Ficus, and the associated buzz of insect and bird activity, in late March, early in the lockdown period, provided the initial impetus. I observed the changing of the seasons, more closely than before, the shedding of leaves of the deciduous trees, followed by the flowering/fruiting season, the magnet for bees that the flowers of the Indian Ash Tree is, the number of animals – birds, squirrels, bats, and even a couple of Bonnet Macaques – all, keen competition for my mom, a fellow mango enthusiast – the variety of insects, that gorge on Mango, both full and half eaten, the abundance of insect life following a few rain showers, praying mantis, wasps and beetles, the diversity of ants and spiders, the fruiting bodies of fungus that popped up after the thunderstorms, the large colony of Flying Fox that would head south over our terrace at dusk, the Bark and House Geckos that spend the day sheltered behind the cool shade of the fencing, only to show themselves in the open, when the temperature was just right (one would assume), the winged termites that hover around artificial light, and one evening, a precursor to the biggest rain of the season, feasted on by an insectivorous bat, that picked one after another of these hapless creatures from around a light bulb in the balcony, a colony of naughty termites that made our front entrance door their larder, the dramatic, convection induced clouds that fill the western horizon, on numerous evenings, after the onset of the summer monsoons, the moths and the butterflies that thrived after the summer rains, the increasingly rarely seen Common Toad that made a guest appearance or so, the Oriental Garden Lizard … just some of the sights that kept the naturalist in me sated, in the few square metres within a bustling city that is home. 

Much of the video footage of these denizens was shot with the Panasonic GH5 and Olympus M.Zuiko 40-150mm f2.8 (sometimes with the 1.4x teleconverter). The quality of the 120fps slow-motion footage and the macro ability of the set-up, especially with the option to crop-in with the in-camera teleconverter feature, coupled with the lens\’s close-focussing ability and sharpness, was a revelation for a videography newbie like me.

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