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Counting birds together: Can you guess these avian species?

In the recently concluded Great Backyard Bird Count, India climbed to second spot, behind Colombia, in terms of number of species observed. A total of 941 species were recorded. Here are some highlights.

For bird watchers in Bengaluru, it was a double treat. They spotted not only the Ruddy-breasted Crake (seen above) but also the Spotted Crake. They are both rare migratory birds at Anekal Lake, Elusive and shy, these birds dart around the reeds at the edges of lakes. As a result, one has to wait for hours to get a sight of one, says Deepa Mohan, one of the count coordinators for Bengaluru,
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For bird watchers in Bengaluru, it was a double treat. They spotted not only the Ruddy-breasted Crake (seen above) but also the Spotted Crake. They are both rare migratory birds at Anekal Lake, Elusive and shy, these birds dart around the reeds at the edges of lakes. As a result, one has to wait for hours to get a sight of one, says Deepa Mohan, one of the count coordinators for Bengaluru, (Deepa Mohan)
A medium-sized wading bird, the Ruff travels to India during winters from the colder regions of Europe and Asia. Usually, only one individual has been recorded throughout Visakhapatnam. But during GBBC, this species was recorded in two major birding hotspots by birders from Wildlife Conservation through Research & Education.
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A medium-sized wading bird, the Ruff travels to India during winters from the colder regions of Europe and Asia. Usually, only one individual has been recorded throughout Visakhapatnam. But during GBBC, this species was recorded in two major birding hotspots by birders from Wildlife Conservation through Research & Education. (WCTRE)
While the Indian Golden Oriole is distributed in the Indian subcontinent and central Asia, there have been only a couple of reports of its sighting from Assam till now. This picture was captured during a bird count at Don Bosco University's Tapesia campus. It is the first photographic evidence of the bird from the state. Even for the campus, it was a rare record.
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While the Indian Golden Oriole is distributed in the Indian subcontinent and central Asia, there have been only a couple of reports of its sighting from Assam till now. This picture was captured during a bird count at Don Bosco University's Tapesia campus. It is the first photographic evidence of the bird from the state. Even for the campus, it was a rare record. (Nilutpal Mahanta )
One of the most majestic species, the Asian Paradise Flycatcher was one of the highlights among the birds spotted during a campus bird count at Christian Medical College, Vellore.
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One of the most majestic species, the Asian Paradise Flycatcher was one of the highlights among the birds spotted during a campus bird count at Christian Medical College, Vellore. (Latif Rajesh Johnson)
The Grey Breasted Prinia is a winter migratory bird not often seen in the Pune region. But during the count, a group of bird watchers saw four individuals at Vetal Hill, which is in the heart of the city.
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The Grey Breasted Prinia is a winter migratory bird not often seen in the Pune region. But during the count, a group of bird watchers saw four individuals at Vetal Hill, which is in the heart of the city. (Siddharth Biniwale)
This was a surprise find for birders at Pune’s Empress Garden campus count. The Mottled Wood Owl, which is not a commonly seen owl species in the city, has never been recorded from the garden till now. Found usually in wooded areas, this owl is difficult to spot as it camouflages easily with surrounding trees.
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This was a surprise find for birders at Pune’s Empress Garden campus count. The Mottled Wood Owl, which is not a commonly seen owl species in the city, has never been recorded from the garden till now. Found usually in wooded areas, this owl is difficult to spot as it camouflages easily with surrounding trees. (N.S.Sivasankaran)
The Crested Serpent Eagle is not an easy raptor to find because of its limited population. Birders at the Gandhisagar Wildlife Sanctuary, Madhya Pradesh, spotted them during the count.
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The Crested Serpent Eagle is not an easy raptor to find because of its limited population. Birders at the Gandhisagar Wildlife Sanctuary, Madhya Pradesh, spotted them during the count. (Loukika Lakshmikant Neve)

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Valentine's Day 2023 gift guide: Accessories wrapped in luxury

From sling bags to everyday shoes, here's a list of gifting ideas for her 

This silver plated purse by the brand JADE by Monica and Karishma, is chic and versatile enough to go with a sari as well as a pantsuit. Available on Jadebymk.com
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This silver plated purse by the brand JADE by Monica and Karishma, is chic and versatile enough to go with a sari as well as a pantsuit. Available on Jadebymk.com
This Eden pair by Nappa Dori can be the elegant everyday choice of footwear. Available on Nappadori.com
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This Eden pair by Nappa Dori can be the elegant everyday choice of footwear. Available on Nappadori.com
The Dyson Airwrap multi-styler has become a must-have for anyone who likes to experiment with different hairstyles. Available in Dyson stores and on www.dyson.in 
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The Dyson Airwrap multi-styler has become a must-have for anyone who likes to experiment with different hairstyles. Available in Dyson stores and on www.dyson.in 
This Pop My Heart pouch from Louis Vuitton, which screams V-Day, is crafted from quilted calf leather. It will be a cute addition to any casual outfit. Available on louisvuitton.com
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This Pop My Heart pouch from Louis Vuitton, which screams V-Day, is crafted from quilted calf leather. It will be a cute addition to any casual outfit. Available on louisvuitton.com
These delicate diamond-studded earrings can uplift any look. For details, visit www.instagram.com/chaulazheritagejewellery
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These delicate diamond-studded earrings can uplift any look. For details, visit www.instagram.com/chaulazheritagejewellery

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The most fashionable Grammys 2023 looks

From Cardi B to Harry Styles, celebrities made a grand style statement at the annual event 

Cardi B wore a gown by Gaurav Gupta, which he recently presented as part of his spring-summer couture collection at the Paris Haute Couture Week.
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Cardi B wore a gown by Gaurav Gupta, which he recently presented as part of his spring-summer couture collection at the Paris Haute Couture Week. (Getty Images via AFP)
Doja Cat paid tribute to an iconic Grammys looks (remember Jennifer Lopez's plunging Versace gown?) in a Roberto Cavalli gown with a moto jacket bodice unzipped to her navel and a skirt of neon feathers.
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Doja Cat paid tribute to an iconic Grammys looks (remember Jennifer Lopez's plunging Versace gown?) in a Roberto Cavalli gown with a moto jacket bodice unzipped to her navel and a skirt of neon feathers. (Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Harry Styles' graphic, low-cut jumpsuit was made by Parisian label Egonlab.
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Harry Styles' graphic, low-cut jumpsuit was made by Parisian label Egonlab. (Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Beyonce became the most awarded artist in Grammys history after accepting her 32nd trophy at the event on 5 February.
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Beyonce became the most awarded artist in Grammys history after accepting her 32nd trophy at the event on 5 February. (REUTERS)

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Paris Haute Couture Week: Vaishali S. creates an underwater journey

The designer stays true to her signature style while offering new silhouettes and blends of shimmering materials 

The show took place in a room stripped of wallpaper, with rows of electrical wires visible.
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The show took place in a room stripped of wallpaper, with rows of electrical wires visible.
All the females models wore Kolhapuri chappals (from Vaishali’s hometown state), while walking in clothes were structured, yet flowy.
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All the females models wore Kolhapuri chappals (from Vaishali’s hometown state), while walking in clothes were structured, yet flowy.
Vaishali S. presented her collection, Abyss, on 24 January under the landmark, La Pyramide Inversée skylight, at Carrousel du Louvre. The collection included 35 garments, made using different silks and uplifted with traditional embroideries. 
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Vaishali S. presented her collection, Abyss, on 24 January under the landmark, La Pyramide Inversée skylight, at Carrousel du Louvre. The collection included 35 garments, made using different silks and uplifted with traditional embroideries. 
Vaishali S. greets the crowd after presenting her collection
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Vaishali S. greets the crowd after presenting her collection

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At Paris couture week, Rahul Mishra brings the universe alive in embroidery

The designer's collection, Cosmos, was a celebration of Indian hand-embroidery and craft techniques   

Rahul Mishra presented his couture collection at Paris' The Westin hotel on 23 January. 
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Rahul Mishra presented his couture collection at Paris' The Westin hotel on 23 January.  (Valerio Mezzanotti @nowfashion)
Each piece in the collection, made at his workshop in the Indian city of Noida, was realised in two and three-dimensional hand embroidery. 
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Each piece in the collection, made at his workshop in the Indian city of Noida, was realised in two and three-dimensional hand embroidery.  (AFP)
The embroidery was encrusted with Swarovski crystals, to give life to the elements of the world using threads.
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The embroidery was encrusted with Swarovski crystals, to give life to the elements of the world using threads. (AFP)
The collection included gowns, bodysuits and jackets.
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The collection included gowns, bodysuits and jackets. (Valerio Mezzanotti @nowfashion)
The custom-made shoes also grabbed attention with glitter-full heels. 
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The custom-made shoes also grabbed attention with glitter-full heels.  (Valerio Mezzanotti @nowfashion)

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Zângkhua, a Beacon of Hope, a Mizo folktale translated and illustrated by Alyssa Pachuau

An ancient Mizo folktale tells the story of how a young warrior’s spirit continues to watch over his people

According to Mizo folklore, Zângkhua, or the constellation Ursa Major, is the spirit of a young warrior named Kawlawia. The constellation consists of seven bright arsi (stars) and is one of the most prominent clusters that appear in the north. Our ancestors possessed remarkable wisdom about the world, including stars and constellations. The Mizo elders keenly observed the appearance of these celestial bodies to track time, months and seasons, and read them as signs of good or bad fortune to come. They established their own theories of origin, resulting in interesting myths, lore and legends. This folktale tells the origin of the constellation Zângkhua, and how it became one of the most significant “stars” among the Mizo people.
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According to Mizo folklore, Zângkhua, or the constellation Ursa Major, is the spirit of a young warrior named Kawlawia. The constellation consists of seven bright arsi (stars) and is one of the most prominent clusters that appear in the north. Our ancestors possessed remarkable wisdom about the world, including stars and constellations. The Mizo elders keenly observed the appearance of these celestial bodies to track time, months and seasons, and read them as signs of good or bad fortune to come. They established their own theories of origin, resulting in interesting myths, lore and legends. This folktale tells the origin of the constellation Zângkhua, and how it became one of the most significant “stars” among the Mizo people. (Illustrations by Alyssa Pachuau)
Once upon a time, there lived a man named Kawlawia (pronounced Koloya) in Mizoram. He married a young woman from the village of Sairum, which lies east of the Tlawng river. One night, Kawlawia dreamt a terrible dream that he believed foreshadowed his death. “Go to your in-laws’ village and offer a sacrifice. Tragedy will not befall you,” the village elders said. He decided to go to Sairum to perform a thla hual, a ceremony where a sacrifice is offered to pacify one’s mind.
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Once upon a time, there lived a man named Kawlawia (pronounced Koloya) in Mizoram. He married a young woman from the village of Sairum, which lies east of the Tlawng river. One night, Kawlawia dreamt a terrible dream that he believed foreshadowed his death. “Go to your in-laws’ village and offer a sacrifice. Tragedy will not befall you,” the village elders said. He decided to go to Sairum to perform a thla hual, a ceremony where a sacrifice is offered to pacify one’s mind.
At Sairum, Kawlawia’s in-laws sacrificed a young fowl and a pig for the thla hual ceremony. He felt a sense of peace almost immediately, and set off for his home. On the way back, as he reached Berhvakawn, Kawlawia was waylaid by warriors from another village. And just like he had dreamt, he was killed, and the enemies carried off his head and leg as trophies. 
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At Sairum, Kawlawia’s in-laws sacrificed a young fowl and a pig for the thla hual ceremony. He felt a sense of peace almost immediately, and set off for his home. On the way back, as he reached Berhvakawn, Kawlawia was waylaid by warriors from another village. And just like he had dreamt, he was killed, and the enemies carried off his head and leg as trophies. 
After a few days, a tlaiberh (Red-vented bulbul) appeared at Kawlawia’s house and perched on a bamboo clothesline by the doorway. “Kawlawia lies dead at Berhvakawn,” the tlaiberh called. When they heard its song, Kawlawia’s family became anxious. “What a strange song the tlaiberh sings,” they said. 
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After a few days, a tlaiberh (Red-vented bulbul) appeared at Kawlawia’s house and perched on a bamboo clothesline by the doorway. “Kawlawia lies dead at Berhvakawn,” the tlaiberh called. When they heard its song, Kawlawia’s family became anxious. “What a strange song the tlaiberh sings,” they said. 
Finally, they sent some young warriors to Berhvakawn who found Kawlawia’s body. A small swarm of khawidang (wasps) was hovering over his knee where his leg had been severed. 
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Finally, they sent some young warriors to Berhvakawn who found Kawlawia’s body. A small swarm of khawidang (wasps) was hovering over his knee where his leg had been severed. 
As they stood over his body, there occurred a great gathering of darkness: the Thîm-Zîng. It appeared like a great black fog that covered the world in darkness. In that moment, Kawlawia’s body rose to the sky and turned into a cluster of stars that came to be known as Zângkhua. In this constellation, the first two stars, or “point stars”, are believed to be his shoulders, and the rest his torso and remaining leg. Till today, it is said wasps are flitting around his knee and can be seen blinking in the distance.
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As they stood over his body, there occurred a great gathering of darkness: the Thîm-Zîng. It appeared like a great black fog that covered the world in darkness. In that moment, Kawlawia’s body rose to the sky and turned into a cluster of stars that came to be known as Zângkhua. In this constellation, the first two stars, or “point stars”, are believed to be his shoulders, and the rest his torso and remaining leg. Till today, it is said wasps are flitting around his knee and can be seen blinking in the distance.
When Zângkhua turns upside down, it is common knowledge that it won’t be long before dawn. In hard times, it’s common to say “Zângkhua a la bungbu ang”, which means Zângkhua will turn upside down to bolster people’s spirits and indicate that things will change for the better.
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When Zângkhua turns upside down, it is common knowledge that it won’t be long before dawn. In hard times, it’s common to say “Zângkhua a la bungbu ang”, which means Zângkhua will turn upside down to bolster people’s spirits and indicate that things will change for the better.
When Zângkhua turns upside down, it is common knowledge that it won’t be long before dawn. In hard times, it’s common to say “Zângkhua a la bungbu ang”, which means Zângkhua will turn upside down to bolster people’s spirits and indicate that things will change for the better.
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When Zângkhua turns upside down, it is common knowledge that it won’t be long before dawn. In hard times, it’s common to say “Zângkhua a la bungbu ang”, which means Zângkhua will turn upside down to bolster people’s spirits and indicate that things will change for the better.
Zângkhua not only tells the time and seasons, the stars themselves give hope to those who look upon them. They are a constant reminder that darkness will eventually give way to light and wrongs will be made right.  Alyssa Pachuau is a New York-based children’s illustrator. Her first picture book, Ukepenuopfü, with author Theyiesinuo Keditsu was published in 2022. 
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Zângkhua not only tells the time and seasons, the stars themselves give hope to those who look upon them. They are a constant reminder that darkness will eventually give way to light and wrongs will be made right.  Alyssa Pachuau is a New York-based children’s illustrator. Her first picture book, Ukepenuopfü, with author Theyiesinuo Keditsu was published in 2022. 

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Snapshots from a cake exhibition in Bengaluru

From a cake weighing 18 tonnes to one dedicated to Lata Mangeshkar, visitors can witness the limitless creativity of bakers at this annual event

The 48th edition of the annual Bengaluru cake show is underway at St Joseph's Indian High School ground in Ashok Nagar. The themes this year explore good over evil, history and remembrance, and nature and harmony. In this photo, a baker poses with a 340 kg cake model of the Great Barrier Reef. (PTI Photo/Shailendra Bhojak) 
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The 48th edition of the annual Bengaluru cake show is underway at St Joseph's Indian High School ground in Ashok Nagar. The themes this year explore good over evil, history and remembrance, and nature and harmony. In this photo, a baker poses with a 340 kg cake model of the Great Barrier Reef. (PTI Photo/Shailendra Bhojak)  (PTI)
The cakes have been created by 20 students of the Institute of Baking and Cake Art (IBCA). This photo of a cake, designed like the bust of Lata Mangeshkar, weighs 130 kgs. (ANI Photo)
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The cakes have been created by 20 students of the Institute of Baking and Cake Art (IBCA). This photo of a cake, designed like the bust of Lata Mangeshkar, weighs 130 kgs. (ANI Photo) (Savitha)
Sugar art is key to designing these elaborate cakes and most contain just icing sugar without the moist sponge, reports a story published by The Hindu. (ANI Photo)
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Sugar art is key to designing these elaborate cakes and most contain just icing sugar without the moist sponge, reports a story published by The Hindu. (ANI Photo)
A man dressed as Santa Claus poses for a photo with this gigantic replica of North America's the Cathedral Basilica, that weighs about 18 tonnes. (PTI Photo/Shailendra Bhojak) 
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A man dressed as Santa Claus poses for a photo with this gigantic replica of North America's the Cathedral Basilica, that weighs about 18 tonnes. (PTI Photo/Shailendra Bhojak) 
A cake designed to represent the highlights of 2022. The show was unveiled on 16 December and will end on 2 January, The entry fee is  <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>100. (ANI Photo)
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A cake designed to represent the highlights of 2022. The show was unveiled on 16 December and will end on 2 January, The entry fee is 100. (ANI Photo)

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