If you read my previous post, you know what’s coming your way. If you didn’t – you can still settle down beside me on the weather beaten rocks of Anegundi in Karnataka and watch what’s going on at a lily pond.
Balancing its giant spider like feet on lily pads, a bronze winged jacana goes about picking its meal. On the rocks, you see a squirrel’s bushy tail…and then you don’t. Pigeons keep gurgling in the background.
The babblers don’t seem so noisy anymore as we enter the trance that comes from watching something for a long time.
‘Moo’ – that can’t be a bird.
Of course, it isn’t and you’re not asleep either. There they come – a long procession of cows – black, brown, white ones and the combination types. The clip clop of hooves, tinkling of bells and shouted commands of cowherds fill the air.
Splashing water, the bovines follow one another into and out of the pond – they’re just crossing over to other pastures.
A few walk along patiently while others nudge those ahead to quicken their pace. Calves stick to their mothers, trying to coax whatever milk has been left for them by human masters.
A startled purple heron flaps its huge wings and takes to the safety of a neem tree.
As they move out of sight, the noise dies down. Birds return to their routine while we decide to move on.
Walking through tall grass, I notice weaver bird nests hanging from a tree. Unfortunately, the birds have already abandoned their nests.
We carry on. Down the road, women are working the land.
Oddly enough, they wear men’s clothing over their own. Is it to ensure their clothes don’t soil or they just feel safer in them? I will never know because I didn’t stop to ask.
Focused on reaching the riverside before it is too late, we hurry along. As any self-respecting birder will tell you, the best time to watch birds is when they’re out looking for food.
Before we get there though, we have to go through a banana plantation.
As we enter, a harmless-looking dog emerges from nowhere. Fancying myself a dog lover, I try a polite hello. This one is clearly in no mood. He glares, bares his teeth and transforms into some kind of a devil.
This is a tough situation to be in. If you run, he will chase and if you don’t, there’s no saying when he might pounce upon you. Thankfully, the owner is nearby and he takes the dog away – we exhale….
By the time we come to the river, we have regained our composure.
The banks are a picture of serenity.
Little girls try to catch fish in their dupattas (Indian stoles), an elderly woman washes the grime of everyday labor off her sari and the sounds of worship from a temple mingle with those of a coracle rider passing by.
We don’t see too many new birds but just sitting among them makes us feel privy to some larger design of nature. It’s therapeutic.
Have you gone bird watching? I hope you had as good a time as we did.
For you my dear readers, I have put together a few links that could start you off on this interesting hobby. For people who’ve already been there, done that – let me know what you’re up to now and if possible, we’ll exchange notes.