Maia goes Birding

Author: Arun Vasireddy
Meetup – Theme/Number/Host: Stream of Consciousness/#074/Maia


Walking in, Purple Bauhinia. A carpet of flowers made by little Sunbirds peeling off delicate petals. Must be pollen in the air, cannot see them though – invisible but to the nose.

White clouds, cirrus and cumulus. Warm sun but muddy track. 4 feet walk, stop, walk, wonder, stop and continue to wonder. 4 eyes search, find leaves, grass plains, green-green-trees and a bird here, a chirp there – wonder. 6.30 am.

A bamboo grove, I look for the Sulphur-bellied Warbler as usual. All empty walls today. Eucalyptus to the right. Where is the deadly Shikra? A shriek. Left. Unpleasant. Right. Shriek. Louder, more unpleasant. We are curious. Left. Jungle Babblers babbling to Large Grey Babblers’ babbling. Quarrels of the bird kind. ‘Is its rump reddish’, ‘yes, to these but not to those’ ‘Now you know what a Jungle Babbler is and what is a  …’ ‘Haa…’ wonder in Australian accent.

Binoculars hanging right. Field guide hanging in the binoculars’ bag to the left. Pen. Paper. Noting behavior. Showers of a thousand stars – Millingtonia hortensis. Sweet scent of garlands under our feet. Trample it to feel or gently lift a flower and smell it.

Doves, hybrid ones. Little brown ones, pied necks, green, brown, white. Many more doves on wires and trees.

A song, of the flycatchers. Is it the Tickell’s blue or the Asian brown? It is quick and behind the wall – busy speaking, so much. Tailor birds joining the orchestra with Prinias. Is it a chatter, perhaps? Whistles. Calls. Love songs. And then alarms. Is there a snake around? Can’t cross the wall. We two move on. Sun is up. Sunlight streams through the tall Neem trees, lights up the road, colours the birds. Good morning. It is 7 am.

Enter forest trail. Much more green. Kans grass, fairy grass wave with the wind. Hidden pools, water weeds, moss, noted Ashy Prinias calling. Sighting. Spittle bugs’ spittle like nests. Garden of fairies. Waving. A Small Egret flies past us. Another pond, hidden, discovered. Water Striders dancing on the waves, waves that give form to the gentle wind blowing across. Would have stayed much longer but did not. Moving on.

Subabuls shading the track. Cool breeze fills in. Birds want the sun, so they avoided thee shade. Ants line up, workers mostly, one behind the other, busily. Ants line up dots of paths, small, big. Soldier ants’ guard and workers build. Big lines cross our track, again and again. Bored tunnels cross the tracks, again and again. War with humans, self-defense! 7.30 am.

Meander. Check out the Robins. Busy, tails up. Squeak squeaking a song. Check my read arse, be warned. Trespassers will be shown more of my red arse. Tail up. Hop. Chirp. Hop. Red. More Red. We move out.

Eucalyptus again. Yuck, Australian trees. But not made or meant for India. Lines of them. Change. Meander. Off course into the forest. Dew drops on grass. Grey Francolins, quail-quail-quail, the sound. And suddenly, kree-kree-kree, notice me, one more red-arse rowdy the Red-vented Bulbul. He is the king, he has the crown you see. Walk through Teak leaves. Patterned, delicate, large, beautiful, crisp Tectona grand-is.

A Small Green Bee-eater rises up in air and grabs a damselfly. Be aware visiting beauties, the butterflies that arrived – Common Crows, Plain Tigers, Striped Tigers and Jezebels. More grass, tall grass. Waving to and fro with the life inside them. A chirp, here and a chirp there. More dragons in the air. Butterflies all around our feet. Orange, green, black, yellow and more.

Capture the butterflies from a cell phone. Stealth attempt. Three steps to catch the Bee-eater with a fly in its beak. 2 more steps, 1 more – off it goes. 1 step too close is 100 steps too far. Rejection. Dejection.

Black-shouldered Kite says hello and don’t worry. I don’t move much. Sits and preens. Casual. Ruby-red eyes. As if to fight the pose, a female Koel gets out of its shy bush life and poses in the sun. Binary-dotted speckled, pied beauty. Gorgeous. Frozen.

The Bees are not. On yellow pollen they fight, grab. Wheee whee sounds. More models for a small camera. Too busy, they grasp stamens and pistils while shooting goes on click, click, click. They just don’t care.

So does a lizard. A White-throated Kingfisher spreads out its brilliant blue wings and grabs it. Pond’s edge, a dead tree, a branch. There it perches, snaps it hard till it is either cold or dead or both. Swallows head first. Tail hangs out of its red beak for a second. Gobble. Yummy breakfast, perhaps. Thrilling, surely.

Cactus and Adansonias all around. Red flowers on thorns. Pink and White elsewhere. Succulents stand still. Sunbirds chirp off again. Large Peacocks that amazed us, along with the lucky Peahens, said ‘good bye’. 8.30 am. Time flew.

A good day starts like that.

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