It was exciting to return to college after 16 years. I was accompanied by a bubbly bunch of 5 students. We were out chasing birds and butterflies, except that we didn’t bunk class to do it. We wanted to explore the diverse species that resided in the Anna University Chennai college campus.
An enthusiastic girl fell in love with a bird that had a heart-shaped face studded with two shiny black eyes and a beak. He was a Spotted Owl which we never got tired of spotting. The moment was interrupted by the sharp call of the Shikra, who proceeded to chase dragonflies for his breakfast.
We feasted our eyes on butterflies at a beautiful organic garden. Three of them were wearing orange and black uniforms, but one had a striped pattern, which I immediately identified as a Striped Tiger. The other two butterflies had flame-orange wings speckled with black. It was a flirtatious pair of Tawny Costers, and what a gorgeous pair! A Glossy Tiger was trying to attract their attention with his stunning black and white striped coat. This drama was played out amidst colourful coat buttons, without the coat. I wonder who weeded out that name for a weed.
While I was busy capturing the scene, I was being watched by a tiny creature in a white, black and red dotted skirt. It turned out to be the Heliotrope Moth, another favourite of mine. It was beginning to get hotter. We took shelter under a huge canopy of trees, where we caught sight of an Oriental Magpie Robin who was wagging his tail to attract our attention. The creator had painted him in contrasting colours, with a black body, a white belly, and wings streaked with white. We were distracted by a cartoony robber, except that this one had wings. It was an ashy brown Common Woodshrike with a black patch around his eyes.
Asian Koel (Female)
We heard the flirtatious call of a female Asian Koel wearing a brown and white coat with a beautiful striped tail. Then a girl shouted, “Look at that yellow bird!” I wondered if it was a Eurasian Golden Oriole, but before I could confirm that, it disappeared into the canopy. Then a creature darted out of the trees, with the speed of an arrow in a Baahubali battle scene. It turned out to be a blue-tailed bee-eater hunting for his breakfast.
Indian Ring Neck Parakeet
We stepped out of the canopy and headed to the northern side of the campus. We were greeted by the rustic call of a cinnamon coloured Rufous Treepie. We felt hungry and wanted to have some pie. On our way out of the campus, we spotted a Lesser Flame Woodpecker busy carving a masterpiece in a tree trunk. An Indian Ring Neck Parakeet was looking at him curiously.
I turned my attention to a student, who showed the photo of a Blue Pansy butterfly with dramatic blue and black wings. I wished that I had managed to capture it too. You might be the next lucky one to meet these gorgeous creatures. You can join me during my next nature trail. Simply send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by: Siluvai Amalan | Content by Siluvai Amalan & Niranjani