Auto racing notes: Gordon grabs pole for Auto Club 500

first_imgKasey Kahne and Kevin Harvick challenged Gordon for the pole, but neither was able to put down a faster lap. Gordon won it with a lap at 185.735 mph. “I really thought someone else was going to beat us because we went so early and with the sun going down,” said Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet Monte Carlo for Hendrick Motorsports. “These guys have been working really hard to get us back where we need to be with getting poles and running fast and leading laps and hopefully winning races and battling for a championship.” It was Gordon’s second career pole at California Speedway. He won his first in May 1998. What might be more interesting, though, are the drivers who did not qualify. There were 51 trying to earn a spot for the Cup race, which meant eight were going home. Michael Waltrip, who was at the eye of the cheating storm at Daytona International Speedway last week, was one of those eight. He was knocked out of the race by his own driver and teammate David Reutimann, who will start 33rd. Waltrip, who owns a three-car Toyota-powered team, saw his other driver Dale Jarrett make the race on a provisional for being a past Cup champion. “(Waltrip’s) put a lot into this team and this program, and I want all three of us to be in and we’re not,” Reutimann said. “Hopefully we’ll keep gaining and make the whole organization stronger and we don’t have to worry about not making races anymore.” Jeremy Mayfield, a previous winner at California Speedway, also did not qualify. A.J. Allmendinger, the promising rookie for Team Red Bull, failed to make his second race in a row. FONTANA – NASCAR Nextel Cup Series driver Jeff Gordon qualified early Friday afternoon at California Speedway, and he was fast. But even he didn’t think he was fast enough to hold on to the pole for Sunday’s Auto Club 500. Once the sun went down and the track started to cool, he anticipated faster times from the drivers who were qualifying later. center_img Ward Burton, a Daytona 500 winner, did not qualify for his second straight race as well. Four Toyota drivers qualified for the race. Dave Blaney was the top Toyota driver. He qualified his No. 22 Bill Davis Racing Camry at 14th. Brian Vickers, driving for the Toyota-powered Team Red Bull, will start behind Blaney in 15th. Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the No. 42 Dodge for Chip Ganassi Racing, was the highest qualifying rookie. He will start ninth. “I’ve raced here before in open wheel, but it’s very different in these cars,” said Montoya, who is beginning his first full season in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series after stints in CART and Formula One. NASCAR on ESPN: One of the ways ESPN is hoping to improve the way NASCAR is broadcast is by using only high-definition cameras for its entire coverage. That means putting HD cameras on board cars during broadcasts. ESPN is using the HD cameras in their coverage of the NASCAR Busch Series. It will transfer that practice when they take over the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series coverage later in the year. Jill Frederickson, a coordinating producer for motor sports at ESPN, said the network has a few new graphic and visual elements it will introduce as the season progresses. “We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel,” Frederickson said. “We want to make it better and amplify it.” (818) 713-3715 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

Tottenham to sign attacker who terrorised Arsenal? All the transfer ins and outs rumours from White Hart Lane

first_img OUT: Etienne Capoue: Spurs hope to recoup most of the £11million paid for him two years ago – Click the arrow above, right, to see who might be joining the Lilywhites – Watford are close to completing the signing of Etienne Capoue. The Frenchman, 26, has reportedly told friends he is poised to join the newly promoted club, although a fee has yet to be finalised. Capoue would become the first of the seven players from Tottenham’s 2013 transfer-market dash to leave White Hart Lane. OUT: Paulinho: Brazilian midfielder has struggled since moving to England – Click the arrow above, right, to see who might be joining Spurs – Paulinho is set to be offloaded to Chinese club Guangzhou Evergrande for £11million, according to the Mirror. The Brazilian midfielder, signed for £17million two years ago, but turned out to be a huge disappointment. Guangzhou are managed by former Brazil boss Luis Felipe Scolari and already have four Brazilian players in their squad. IN? Toby Alderweireld: Defender keen to join Belgian contingent at White Hart Lane – Click the arrow above, right, to see who might be leaving Spurs! – Spurs are reportedly closing in on agreeing a fee with Atletico Madrid for Alderweireld, according to the Telegraph. The 26-year-old spent the last season on-loan at Southampton, making 26 starts for Ronald Koeman’s side. After an impressive spell with the south coast club, he is attracting interest from other Premier League clubs, including Chelsea and has expressed a desire to stay in England. Tottenham have taken advantage of the situation and have already made an approach to secure his services with White Hart Lane set to be his likely destination. 6 IN: Yannick Ferreira Carrasco: Belgian star dubbed ‘new Cristiano Ronaldo’ – Click the arrow above, right, to see who might be leaving White Hart Lane – According to reports Spurs lodged a £9.9million offer to sign the Monaco ace, but that was rejected. The 21-year-old winger has bags of pace and tricks and has been compared to Cristiano Ronaldo in the past. He scored the decisive goal against Arsenal in the Champions League last season, which ultimately sent the Gunners crashing out of the competition. Carrasco made 36 appearances for Monaco in Ligue 1 last season and scored six goals, while also creating 56 chances – Carrasco’s six goals is just three fewer than the club’s leading scorer, Anthony Martial. 6 6 6 6 Mauricio Pochettino appears keen to strengthen his defensive and attacking options when the summer transfer window opens.The north London club have already signed central defender Kevin Wimmer from Cologne and right-back Kieran Trippier from Burnley.But former Spurs legend Ossie Ardiles exclusively told talkSPORT that Pochettino needs reinforcements to help propel the north London club into the top four – and it seems Pochettino has identified further targets.As well as additions there’s certain to be a few departures from White Hart Lane and talkSPORT has rounded up the latest rumours surrounding Spurs, so click the arrow above, right, to see six players linked with a move to and from Tottenham.What area do you think chairman Daniel Levy needs to invest his money in and who should leave White Hart Lane? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.For all the latest Tottenham news click here. 6 IN: Anthony Martial: Monaco forward Pochettino’s No.1 target – Click the arrow above, right, to see who might be leaving White Hart Lane – Anthony Martial remains Tottenham’s main transfer target as Pochettino looks for someone to share the goalscoring burden with Harry Kane next season and there have already been discussions about the 19-year-old French forward. Monaco are in no rush to sell Martial and are seeking £19 million for the France Under-21 international, who scored nine goals in Ligue 1 last season. Yet there is quiet confidence at White Hart Lane that they have a strong chance of getting their man. OUT: Emmanuel Adebayor, Tom Carroll, Andros Townsend: Aston Villa plot triple raid on trio – Aston Villa are preparing a triple transfer raid on Tottenham Hotspur for Emmanuel Adebayor, Tom Carroll and Andros Townsend – Townsend is likely to cost in excess of £10million while Adebayor will be priced at £3m, according to the Sun. Tom Carroll is being lined up for a season-long loan by the former Spurs chief – Sherwood has a good relationship with the trio from his time at Tottenham and is confident of luring them to Villa Park.last_img read more

Arsenal to send 17-year-old wonderkid to Ipswich for the season

first_img1 Arsenal rookie Ainsley Maitland-Niles is on the verge of completing a loan move to Ipswich Town.The 17-year-old wideman, known for his searing pace, has made two first-team appearances for the Gunners.But now he is set to join Ipswich to gain more regular senior action as part of Mick McCarthy’s Championship side.Maitland-Niles, who has been at Arsenal since the age of nine, is expected to spend the entire campaign on loan at Portman Road. Ainsley Maitland-Niles last_img

WIN: Ladies Night Out brings fabulous festive sparkle to town

first_imgFestive fashion, food and fun are in the line-up for a glamorous Ladies Christmas Night Out next month in Ballybofey.Patton Frozen Foods and The Igloo is hosting one of the most exciting nights of the Christmas calendar on Wednesday 7th Dec in Jacksons Hotel, Ballybofey. Donegal Daily and Donegal Woman have two VIP tickets to give away for this fantastic charity event. Check out this post on Facebook (Click HERE) to see how you can win two VIP front row seats!The evening begins at 7pm with a Christmas market. Where guests can browse around with a glass of mulled wine, prosecco and canapes in hand. There will be a wide range of festive stalls setting up for the market, with everything from baking to botox!The show begins at 8pm sharp with fabulous chef Rachel Allen showing everyone how it’s done in the kitchen this Christmas. To top it all off, there will be some festive fashion from The Gray Rooms, Pure Boutique, Verve Donegal and for the ladies with blooming bumps this season, Chiq Maternity will be showcasing their beautiful maternity range.So whether you decide to get dressed to the nines or air out your Christmas jumper, this event promises to be one of the best in Donegal this Christmas. All proceeds from the event are going to The Donegal Hospice and The Caolan Melaugh Fund.Patton Frozen Foods and The Igloo want to take this opportunity to thank all those who have given their time and effort to this event Tommy and Bridget Gallen Jacksons Hotel, Paddy McMenamin our compare for the night, DJ Paddy Friel, Siobhan Kelly The Gray Rooms, Rosie Boyle Pure Boutique, Mary Meehan Verve, Gillian Hamilton + Amanda McClintock Chiq Maternity,  Gabrielle McMonagle Gabrielle’s Diary, Maria Rushe Secrets of S Mum,  Liam Porter, John Gildea and the team at Donegal Daily and Donegal Woman. A huge thank you also to all those who have sponsored the wonderful raffle we have in store on the night. Tickets are €25 and are on sale at The Igloo Ballybofey, Jacksons Hotel, The Gray Rooms, Pure Boutique, Verve Donegal Town but hurry they are going like hot cakes!!!WIN: Ladies Night Out brings fabulous festive sparkle to town was last modified: November 23rd, 2016 by Rachel McLaughlinShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:BallybofeyCHristmaseventsFashionigloolast_img read more

KCCA vs Express: Kasasiros out to continue march towards league crown

first_img Tags: Express FCJulis PolotoKCCA FCMike MutebiMike MutyabaMuwadda MawejjeTony odurtop KCCA are six points clear at the top of the table (file Photo)StarTimes Uganda Premier LeagueKCCA FC vs Express FCStarTimes Stadium, LugogoSaturday, 20-04-2019 @4pmLUGOGO – KCCA FC will win the 2018/19 StarTimes Uganda League title unless something dramatic happens in their last four games.After Vipers SC lost 2-1 at home to URA FC on Friday, the Kasasiro remained six points clear at the top of the standings, with a game in hand as they play their Match-Day 27 fixture on Saturday.The Venoms result in Kitende means that KCCA now require only four points from a possible 12 so as to seal third League crown in four years.On Saturday afternoon, they take on Express FC at the StarTimes Stadium in Lugogo as the two sides renew their rivalry.Unlike in the 90s when matches between the two were title deciders, KCCA go into the game as overwhelming favorites after Express have fallen far behind Mike Mutebi’s side in both ambitions and league placing.As KCCA fight for yet another League crown, the Red Eagles are still mathematically not safe from relegation and a string of bad results may see them dragged in the relegation battle at the season’s close.Going into the game, KCCA FC head coach Mike Mutebi stressed that his side’s focus is on trying to win all their remaining games.“Our target as KCCA is to win all our remaining games so that we are sure of winning the League this season, said Mutebi ahead of the Express game.“We do not want to look at how our rivals (Vipers) are performing because our focus is on how we perform in our games.“What gives me confidence going into the last four games is that my players are operating at least 50%.KCCA FC will be without three first-team players on Saturday. Mike Mutyaba, Julius Poloto and Muwadda Mawejje are all out nursing injuries and are not expected to return until the season closes.For Express, they will be without striker Tony Odur who is injured. Lawrance Kigonya who missed the last game is expected to return to the starting lineup.Match Facts:This will be the 20th meeting between KCCA and Express since May 2012.In the previous 19 meetings, KCCA have won 8 games, Express 4 while the other 7 have ended in draws.Express have defeated KCCA only once in the last 9 meetings with that victory coming in the first game this season where the Red Eagles triumphed 3-2 at Wankulukuku.Last season, KCCA did the double over Express including a 1-0 win in the reverse fixture at Lugogo.This fixture always tends to produce a winner with only one draw seen in their last 7 match-ups.In their last games, KCCA FC defeated Paidha 2-1 at Lugogo while Express drew 1-1 at home to SC Villa.Express drew 1-1 with SC Villa in their last game (file photo)KCCA go into the game having lost only one of their last 15 League games (W9 D5). The only loss in that period came at the hands of URA (2-1) on February 26th.At home, the Kasasiros have lost only one of their last 31 League games (W24 D6).For Express, they head into Saturday’s fixture having won only one of their last 5 League games (D2 L2). The win was the 2-0 win over Paidha Black Angels at the start of this month.Away from home, the Red Eagles have triumphed in only two of their last 10 games (D2 L6). The two victories in that period came against Ndejje University and Nyamityobora, two of the three sides currently occupying the relegation zone.The other games on Saturday:-Nyamityobora FC vs Maroons FC-Onduparaka FC vs Bul FC-Tooro United vs Mbarara City FCFriday’s results:-Vipers SC 1-2 URA FC-Bright Stars FC 1-1 Police FCComments last_img read more

Mini-grants awarded to Feed the World workshop participants

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Attendees of the Feed the World Program were encouraged to request up to $1,000 from the Ohio Corn Marketing Program for classroom supplies to implement Ohio Corn Education curriculum. Here are the winners:Mary Ann Hopple, Athens Middle School: testing soil and water samplesKatrina Swinehart, Greene County Career Center: distilling ethanol and exploring biofuelsChristine Snoddy, Trimble Middle School: analyzing soil sample componentsAllyssa McMullen, River View High School: nutrient testing and distillation; comparison of corn varietiesLaura Ringler, Plymouth High School: soil analysis and genetic modification of plantsLaura James & Nic Baumer, Benjamin Local High School: soil science and water qualityJeff Jostpile, Fort Jennings High School: soil chemistry, corn production, and ethanol productionJames Scott, Knox County Career Center: soil and water testing, garden planning and planting.last_img read more

Late fall herbicide treatment for cover crops?

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest A fairly common question this time of year — where I have planted cover crops, do I still need a fall herbicide treatment to help manage marestail? The underlying premise here is that where a cover crop develops enough biomass to adequately cover the ground by late fall, it can contribute substantial suppression/control of marestail. Grass covers seem to be most effective at suppressing marestail, as long as they are planted early enough in fall to develop this type of biomass. Grass covers can also be treated postemergence in the fall with several broadleaf herbicides, while this is not possible in covers that contain broadleaf crops – legumes, radish, etc. There are no hard and fast rules with regard to this situation but here are some things to think about:– Herbicide options for cereal rye and wheat covers generally include all of the typical postemergence herbicides that are labeled for fall use in small grains — 2,4-D, dicamba, 2,4-D/dicamba premix, Huskie, etc. We do not recommend use of 2,4-D in fall on small grains grown for yield because of the potential for crop injury and yield loss. However, we have applied 2,4-D to cereal rye and ryegrass in our research, and either injury did not occur or was minor enough that we did not detect it. Yield is a not a factor for cover crops anyway. Late-planted rye and wheat, which would be less developed at the time of application, may be more sensitive to 2,4-D injury.– Do not apply dicamba or 2,4-D around the time of planting due to risk of injury. Delay applications until cover has at least a few inches of growth. It is possible to make a preemergence application of glyphosate plus Sharpen, and Sharpen alone could work if marestail is the only weed of concern.Decisions about whether to treat a cover yet this fall should probably be based on several factors and how they affect cover crop development and marestail control: date of cover planting — earlier is better; seeding rate — higher is better; row spacing — narrower is better; ground cover — more is better (or less bare ground observed is better); overall cover biomass — more is better. Some of these factors are related of course. A higher seeding rate may net be needed to obtain adequate ground cover when planting early, but it could help in later planting. Even where the cover is optimized, fall application may be the safe strategy in fields with a history of dense marestail infestations that always seem to be a problem to control.Spring burndown management can also have a role in the fall herbicide decision. In our research in soybeans, maximum suppression of marestail often occurred when the cover crop kill in spring was delayed until close to planting, compared with early April, where we had substantial fall biomass. At one site however, the rye did not provide near as much suppression, and marestail control was maximized by applying in April, when marestail were smaller and more sensitive to 2,4-D. So it’s possible to compensate for the lack of a fall herbicide treatment by applying the burndown earlier, or by applying a more aggressive burndown treatment. For example, using dicamba in the soybean spring burndown/residual treatment will often result in more effective control compared with 2,4-D. Preemergence yuse of dicamba in Xtend soybeans also allows application of the burndown anytime before crop emergence if that’s the way a grower wants to manage the rye. Bottom line – relying on 2,4-D still in the spring burndown might sway the decision toward still treating in fall, while relying on dicamba could sway the decision the other way, all other factors being equal.In summary, factors allowing for greatest possibility of skipping application of fall herbicides to the cover crop: 1) earliest possible cover planting and development of substantial fall growth that prevents bare ground; 2) use of more effective spring burndown herbicides; and 3) fields with low marestail populations.last_img read more

Oh my ears and whiskers, which cat is the cutest?

first_img| Photo Credit: PETA Among the finalists is Stitch, whose guardian is Tania Rodrigues, a resident of Goa. When Tania found Stitch, he was hiding in a bush next to a highway, and his two siblings were playing on the road. She decided to keep Stitch and found homes for his siblings. “I fell in love with the third kitten because he slept next to me on my bed the whole night without moving. So, I kept him and named him Stitch,” says Ms. Rodrigues.“All rescued cats are already winners because their lives were saved by people who love them for who they are,” says PETA India CEO Manilal Valliyate.PETA holds the contest to encourage prospective guardians to adopt animals from the streets or shelters instead of buying them from pet shops or breeders, as these businesses often keep animals in dismal conditions. Animals in pet shops are also often bought on impulse and discarded when buyers get tired of them.The guardian of the lucky kitty who is named the cutest rescued cat will receive a certificate and gifts. The fur is about to fly. Animal rights organisation People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has selected the 10 finalists for India’s ‘cutest rescued cat’ contest. The cats were selected after sifting through hundreds of photographs of lovable pets and reading through their rescue stories, a release from PETA, India, said. Public voting for the contest through the website ends on July 30.center_img Stitch, left, and Tullu are among the finalists.last_img read more

BSP MLA claims threat to life from Dawood, police launch probe

first_imgClaiming threat to his life from underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, a BSP MLA from Ballia has lodged a complaint with the police here on Sunday. Police are probing the case.“On August 6, I got a text message asking me to check my email. I did not take it seriously then and thought I would check it later, as at that time I was in Delhi. Generally I get emails from youngsters who send their biodata to me, so I thought I would check it some time later,” MLA Uma Shankar Singh told reporters on Sunday.Mr. Singh is an MLA from Rasra in Ballia district. He said two days later he got another message from the same number.“On August 8, I got a message from the same number which read ‘last warning, jeena yaa marna (life or death) ₹1 crore’,” he said.“On checking the email, I saw the photograph of Dawood Ibrahim. The email also said ‘Uma Shankar, you are serving the people of Ballia. If you want to continue this, then give ₹1 crore, else one bullet is enough for you. And we can kill you at any point of time’,” the legislator said.The BSP MLA said, “When I checked the number on the truecaller (a mobile application to detect the person handling a particular mobile number), it was Dawood Ibrahim text group.” “Mr. Singh has lodged a police complaint in this regard and an FIR has been registered against unknown persons under various sections of the IPC and the IT Act for threatening him via text messages and email,” said SO Gomtinagar DP Tiwari.last_img read more

Jatinga, where hundreds of birds just drop out of the sky

first_imgThere is nothing to distinguish the hamlet of Jatinga from the hundreds of villages scattered about the rolling hills and ridges around Haflong, headquarters of the North Cachar Hills District of Assam. For most of the year, the 1,200 Jantia tribals of Jatinga live in obscurity, tending to their crops,There is nothing to distinguish the hamlet of Jatinga from the hundreds of villages scattered about the rolling hills and ridges around Haflong, headquarters of the North Cachar Hills District of Assam. For most of the year, the 1,200 Jantia tribals of Jatinga live in obscurity, tending to their crops on the slopes of the Jatinga ridge or raising poultry and livestock.Because of its remoteness, Jatinga has few visitors from the outside world, except for two crucial months – August and September. Those are the months when a curious and unexplained phenomenon envelops the area, a phenomenon that has now become the intense focus of international scientific attention. The phenomenon, popularly referred to as the “bird mystery of Jatinga”,has so far baffled scientists the world over and not without good reason since it has not occurred anywhere else in the world. During themoonless nights of August and September every year, hundreds of birdsconverge on Jatinga, drawn, quite literally, like moths to a flame. Thevillagers hang lantern lights on poles and the birds display anirresistable attraction for them.  A view of the village and a dazed bird about to be brought down by a bamboo poleHundreds of birds of all varieties merely flutter down around the lights in a complete daze and are picked up by the villagers.Others hover low above the village seemingly without any orientation and are knocked down to the ground by long bamboo poles. At least for those two months, the villagers of Jatinga eat well. advertisementUnique Occurrence: But exactly why the phenomenon takes place is an unexplained mystery that is unique to Jatinga alone. In some parts of the world, people have been known to lay bright lights in the path of migrating birds and capture some in this manner. But Jatinga is different. For one, these are no migrating birds. Studies have established that all the species of birds caught at Jatinga are local ones living within 10 or 15 kilometres of the village.What is puzzling is that almost all the birds are diurnal birds that are active by day and never move out of their nests at night. Studies have also established that whatever the mysterious force that compels the birds to plunge like lemmings to their death, it is a force that operates only at Jatinga and only on certain nights in August and September when a series of conditions are in force. There is, in fact, a village just two kilometres north of Jatinga which is completely ignored by the birds though villagers have tried to lure them by lights on numerous occasions.Surprisingly, the phenomenon has gone virtually unnoticed till only recently though reports of the mysterious birds of Jatinga first surfaced towards the end of the last century. Inhabitants of Jatinga recall their ancestors describing how a small settlement of Naga tribals lived in the area then. One moonless night, they set out with lighted flares to search for a missing buffalo. No sooner had they reached the Jatinga ridge when birds swoopfed down on them from the darkness. Terrified, the superstitious Nagas fled believing them to be evil spirits. They left the area and some years later, a group of Jantia tribals came looking for a place to settle. The Nagas pointed them in the direction of the ridge. The Jantias, however, were mainly Christian converts and faith in their new religion overcame superstitious beliefs.Requisite Conditions: By 1910, five years after they had settled there, the people of Jatinga had discovered that the birds only descended on the village between August and October and specific weather conditions had to exist for them to do so. They also discovered that lighting fires attracted the birds like magnets. Bird catching soon became an annual carnival with hundreds of birds being brought down or captured for sport as well as for food.Because of the remoteness of the village, the bird mystery remainedconfined to the village till as recently as 1957 when a British teaplanter and ornithologist E.P. Gee visited Jatinga and laid out hisfindings in his book, The Wildlife of India published in 1957.”The whole thing is extraordinary,” Gee wrote, “it does not take placeanywhere else except this spot. Lights have been put in other spots butwithout success. Several conditions are necessary for the birds to cometo Jatinga.”He then went on to list the conditions. “It must besometime between August 15 and October 31. September is the best month.It must be foggy, cloudy or misty. Slight rain is even better. The windmust be from south to the north, otherwise no birds will come. Theremust be no moon. It happens only on really dark nights.advertisement The lights mustbe bright and circular, not beamed like the light from an electric torch or a car headlight. An open space is preferred though under the aboveconditions birds even enter houses. The best time is between 7 and 10p.m. As many as 200 birds have been killed by one man during one night.”But even after Gee’s book was published, the Jatinga mystery remainedoutside any serious research efforts. It was only in 1977 that Dr Sudhin Sengupta, an expert on bird behaviour from the Zoological Survey ofIndia went to Jatinga and lived there between August and October. Itproved an illuminating experience. “Hundreds of birds just dropped outof the sky,” he says, “some even flew into my bedroom if the lights were on. All the birds were in a dazed condition. They rarely tried to escape when they were picked up and usually even the ones left alive refusedfood.” Sengupta immediately dashed off frantic letters to leadingornithologists in Europe, America and Japan.All the replies evincedkeen interest in the mystery but nobody could offer any logicalexplanation for what happened. Some of them also announced theirintention of coming to Jatinga to see the phenomenon but were preventedby the fact that Assam is out of bounds to foreigners.Sengupta remained undaunted and returned to Jatinga every year since then, meticulouslycollecting data and carrying out various experiments. His efforts,however, have been seriously hampered by the Zoological Survey itselfwhich has not taken any major steps to unravel the mystery or supportSengupta’s research adequately enough.Experiment: Twoyears ago, the Jatinga mystery caught the fancy of the Forest Department through their local Divisional Forest Officer H.P. Phukan. Thedepartment erected a high steel tower fitted with powerful electriclights at the lower end of the village. The idea behind the tower wasthat it would attract a majority of the birds which could then be setfree rather than being killed by the villagers. The experiment, however, has been a limited success. Some birds have been attracted by the tower lights but a majority still drop down in the main village. Tragically,most of the ones that were collected from around the tower did notsurvive because whatever the mysterious force that attracts them toJatinga, it also causes most of them to refuse food. Girls from the village holding a variety of birds which fell into their courtyard and villagers waiting for the birds to arriveIronically enough, the data collected by both Sengupta and Phukan has only succeeded in deepening the mystery. Their research has uncovered additional facts that have thrown up even more puzzles. For instance, it has been established that the birds are not attracted to the entire Jatinga ridge but to a well-defined strip about 1.5 kilometres long and 200 metres wide. Outside this narrow strip, the phenomenon is virtually non-existent.advertisementFurther, the birds always fly in from the north and only when the wind is blowing from south to north. In other words, the birds fly in against the wind. Inexplicably, the environment and forest structure on both sides of the ridge are similar and an equal number of birds nest to the south of the village as in the north.But every time the birds come, it is only the ones from the north Phukan tried placing lights on the southern side of the ridge when conditions were favourable but as he says: “We waited in vain. Not a single bird was attracted to our lights even though villagers on the other side caught their usual quota. We only confirmed what the villagers already knew but I have no explanation.”Baffling Habits: Since Sengupta and Phukan started maintaining records, 38 bird species have been listed in the village’s catch including partridges, green pigeons, bitterns, emerald doves and waterbirds like egrets, moorhens and several types of kingfishers. And yet, there are certain species of birds that are seemingly able to resist the fatal siren call. Joseph Suchiang, 65, nephew of the founder of the village, says: “I have been catching birds since I was 13 and I can say that birds like grouse, hornbills and imperial pigeons which abound in the countryside around have never been caught in Jatinga” – yet another puzzle that nobody can explain. Even the commonest local birds like sparrows, mynas and thrushes which can be seen in their hundreds by day around the village never succumb to the phenomenon. There is no explanation but only certain clues that could help scientists some day to unravel the mystery. One such clue is the fact that the bird catch registered a sudden drop in 1951, the year of the great Assam earthquake in which thousands died. There is an active geological fault known as the Halflong-Disang fault which runs deep under the valley where the Jatinga ridge is situated. It is possible that there could be a link between the earth fault, the earthquake and the drop in the catch but if there is, nobody has discovered it as yet.Says Dr Salim Ali, India’s best-known ornithologist: “The most puzzling thing to me about this phenomenon is that so many species of diurnal resident (non-migratory) birds should be on the move at a time when, by definition, they should be fast asleep. The problem deserves deeper scientific study from various angles.”Perhaps the most baffling aspect of the Jatinga phenomenon is the behaviour of the affected birds. The moment they arrive over Jatinga, attracted by the lights, they become completely disoriented and confused.The birds that do not drop down in a daze simply hover aimlessly over the villages till they are brought down by the long bamboo sticks used by the villagers. Even though some species like green pigeons and teals normally have a powerful “flocking instinct” (flying in groups), over Jatinga, they appear to lose it completely.Sengupta believes that the explanation lies in the earth’s magnetism, the pull of gravity and electrical disturbances in the valley’satmosphere. The Jatinga ridge, he believes, has a high magnetic mineralcontent and the active earth fault under the valley could also becausing unusual changes in gravity and magnetism which are picked up bythe birds and affect their nervous system.He also believes that weather conditions like fog and variations in atmospheric pressure play theirpart in the mystery. He attaches considerable significance to the factthat the birds only come to Jatinga on moonless nights and the fact that the phenomenon occurs in August to October just after the monsoonrains. The water percolating through the rocks, he says, would raise the underground water level which in turn would affect the magnetic andelectrical characteristics of the ridge.This, he believes,possibly disturbs the birds sleeping in their nests and makes themrestless and take to flight and are attracted by the lights. Once overJatinga, the magnetic properties of the ridge come into effect and their internal compasses go haywire.Research: The theory,however, is nothing new. Dr Stephen Ellis and Dr William Keaton ofCornell University carried out interesting experiments with homingpigeons that has some relation to the Jatinga mystery. They attachedtiny bar magnets on the backs of some of the birds and bars ofnon-magnetic brass on others before releasing them.Under sunnyconditions, both groups performed equally well. But when released underovercast conditions, only the brass-attached birds flew normally. Thosewith magnets, unable to use their sun compasses, flew erratically. Sengupta reviving a kingfisher (left) and the farcical Jatinga seminar: Baffling phenomenaSengupta may be on the right track, but as he admits: “I have got only a few pieces of the jigsaw puzzle. It will need sustained studies by scientists of many disciplines – ornithologists, geologists, geophysicists, weather experts – to collect the other pieces. If we can do that, I feel that fascinating new vistas will open up. I am sure that if we can solve the Jatinga mystery we will also be able to solve some other problems of behaviour and migration now baffling scientists.”But given the Indian Government’s attitude, that does not seem possible. Recently, superficial and misleading reports appeared in some papers in Britain and here which talked about the “wanton destruction of birds by Jatinga inhabitants”. The reports said that the villagers killed the birds to sell to restaurants in big cities. No mention was made of the phenomenon or the mystery surrounding the birds, nor was it mentioned that Jatinga has no big city less than 200 kilometres away. The report was, however, sent to the Duke of Edinburgh, the president of the World Wildlife Fund, who wrote to Mrs Gandhi expressing concern at “the mass killings of birds in Jatinga”.Official invasion: This resulted in a flurry of activity and instructions went out to do something about the situation. Immediately, a seminar was held in Jatinga called “Save Jatinga Birds”. Hordes of pompous officials from Gauhati and Calcutta descended on the village to read out papers and lecture the villagers. Apart from Sengupta and Phukan, none had seen the actual bird catching before, yet they read out scientific papers and quoted statistics which were at variance with the facts.The villagers, naturally, resented the intrusion and the accusations and a climate of suspicion has been created which will take a long time to dissolve. Phukan had in fact, already started educating the villagers in his own fashion by setting up a birdwatchers club for the young people in the village. He would take them on outings and point out species and explain their peculiarities. Given time, he could probably have changed their attitude towards killing the birds. But after the seminar, his success is unlikely.The result is that there is, as yet, no systematic long-term plan to investigate the mystery. As Dr Salim Ali says: “It is difficult to tackle the problem for a visiting naturalist because of the unpredictable occurrence of the requisite meteorological conditions which are usually ephemeral and of a short duration. It can best be studied by someone based in Jatinga.”So far, however, there are no plans to set up a permanent unit where experts of different disciplines can take time to study the phenomenon in depth and come up with possible answers. Which can only mean that Jatinga will continue to remain one of the great unsolved mysteries of our time.last_img read more