Saturday, February 12, 2011
One cold day in January.
I have a great friend in Chandigarh with whom I play Scrabble for points. I might add he is the only one I do that with cuz he is the only one who has beaten me in recent years. James, is a great birder and you will find his bird blog very interesting.
It was a really cold day and I had been frustrated in my attempt to get anything done due to the Govt. order closing schools. So, determined that my trip should not go to waste I asked James if he wanted to go on a walk and look for some birds. James is a really lucky guy, in that he attracts birds. I got the beautiful shot of the bee-eaters in my blog when I was with him. So I was pretty hopeful of some good sightings.
He suggested we count species and see how many we get in a half hour. So off we went. The housing sector in Panchkula where we were did not have much to offer but he of course knew all the good spots. A nullah in the middle of the sector was a rich spot and we were alternately repelled and attracted by the polluting plastic and reeking water and the quantity of bird life. The ubiquitous egrets dotted the nullah
A smart White Chested Kingfisher sat on a wire overlooking the nullah, he very kindly stayed till I could take a picture before flying off with a squishack squishack. A little walk around the houses to get us nearer the nullah and we were in front of a lapwing and right behind him a little sandpiper plied his beak in the flowing water seeking his dinner. A ring-necked plover flew off as we approached. We were hoping for a sight of some silver-bills but no such luck.
The aerobatics team of swallows and martens was there in strength and they put up a great show. The twisting, weaving, rolling, somersaulting, loop-the-loop flying was simply awesome. Try as I might I could not get a decent shot and finally after about 20 tries just gave up and enjoyed the show. A couple of pond herons flew in as the lights went low with the sun dipping below the building height. These were so amazingly camouflaged it was so hard to see them fro the bridge over the nullah. I had just seen them land there, if not I would have probably sworn there was nothing there. Their brown green backs and bills make it almost impossible to see them from above.
Leaving the nullah behind we walked through the housing area and came through a little village area with collared doves and spotted doves and a score of common mynas poking about. These birds are bold as the proverbial brass monkey virtually fearless and walking about among people working, ladies sitting and chatting, and the shopkeeper plying his trade with equal nonchalance. Their sharp little eyes missing nothing as they forage freely under the charpai’s and under the chai-wallahs nose for morsels of food.
The sun had well and truly set and the flights of birds heading home to roost crisscrossed the sky. Egrets, mynas, lapwings in ones and twos, a solitary fish eagle all heading different directions passed us overhead and the chill evening breeze set our feet for home and a hot chai with the hope of a pakoda.
The species count was 21 and I was pretty happy about it. James said he has seen up to 40 in the same space and time in the past. I told you he was lucky fellow.