STARLINGS AND SUNSHINE
Not even the scorching summer can hold me back from my birding adventures, especially when an enthusiastic bunch of amateur birdwatchers counts on me to lead them. We set out with hats, sunscreen and all our summer essentials, to a forested area on the outskirts of Chennai.
We had hardly walked 300m, when we spotted a black and brown missile swooping down from a treetop, searching for its target. We realized that it was a Shikra, a small raptor that resembles an eagle.
Blue-Tailed Bee Eater
As we walked on, green canopies spread above us. We noticed that they were specked with blue. It turned out to be a group of blue-tailed bee-eaters showing off their aerobatic skills. Two of them decided to take a snack break. They were waiting for the right opportunity to snap up bees and dragonflies, tilting their heads like spectators at a Wimbledon tennis match. We wished them all the best and moved on.
Eurasian Eagle Owl
A Eurasian Eagle Owl was majestically perched about 100m above us, against the scenic background of a hillock. Like a surveillance camera, he was keeping a 360O watch on the forest. We wished that we could enjoy the same view. He does deserve his high perch, for he belongs to one of the world’s largest owl species.
While we were admiring him, we were distracted by the klich-klich call of a kingfisher. We found that there were not one, but three of them – the Common Blue Kingfisher, the White Throated Kingfisher and the Pied Kingfisher. The word ‘pied’ denotes that the bird is black and white. All three birds posed like calendar girls without any inhibitions. But the posers were momentarily overshadowed by a blue-and-green dancer with eyes on his skirt. Yes, it was a male – a peacock who pranced for a few seconds and vanished into the sky like a rocket.
Suddenly, something made us go “Oh My!” A handsome bird with a glossy Elvis-like black pouf and yellow beak. My friends wondered if it was a Common Myna. I told them that it was a Brahminy Starling.
Then we spotted a bird with a funky hairstyle and plumage which lared out to reveal a white fan. In an instant, we were his fans. He was a Paradise Flycatcher hopping up and down a tree like a digital equalizer dipping and rising. It was a mesmerizing sight that stayed in our minds as we made our way out of the forest. We are already looking forward to hearing bird calls again. To join the next bird watching expedition, please email@example.com