Friday, June 27, 2014

Song of the bird-bath

Before I start on my monsoon photos, here's one last look at something that sings of Summer ... my bird-bath. Do you remember the most frequented area in my garden (by the birds, I mean)? It has been seeing feathered traffic like never before all summer long!

 This Red Vented Bulbul had the time of his life puffing out his feathers and splashing so the water could reach and drench each and every part of his body.

This pic was not clicked in my garden but I just couldn't resist adding it. That little patch of water dripping from a tap had put this bulbul in an ecstatic mood and he was singing his heart out. I love these Red Whiskered Bulbuls with their cheerful birdcalls! Have you heard it?

Usually the sparrows and the finches are the last to get a chance to luxuriate in the water. Every time a bigger bird shows up they immediately move out of the way. Especially if it is a crow. I suspect the crows don't have much patience with the little birds.They don't seem to have any love to spare for the bigger birds either. Anytime that the Pariah Kite (Black Kite) turns up for a sip-and-dip, the crows at once gang up to chase the kite away!
The bulbuls on the other hand, are willing to share if the space is big enough.
But the sparrows and finches are happiest when the whole flock joins in. The flock that bathes together, stays together?

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Indian Summer: a bird's-eye view

Hot. Hotter. Summer-est!
It's been a boiling, roasting season in Mumbai, hasn't it? All over India, actually (except those places which got some unseasonal showers  ... so very envious!). Now, can we get express-delivery of the Monsoons, please?
I loved the mangoes and all those other super-delicious summer fruits , both in the garden and in the markets.
And I loved all those streets spilling over with wave upon wave of summer blooms .
And there were the last of the migratory birds.(how I love that Paradise Flycatcher!). But I'm craving some refreshing monsoon rain right now!

Have you seen one of these birds? If you had, believe me, you'd never forget it. The Asian Paradise Flycatcher definitely deserves the second part of his name. Especially the adult males in flight. Sheer poetry!
This one here is a juvenile male, I think. It's hard to tell because they look almost exactly like the adult female untill they transform into their pure white feathered form topped with a crested jet-black head.
 I'm told that it is that blue ring around the eyes that differentiates the juvenile male from the adult female. I don't know if that's true but I'm hoping that this guy is going to come back next season in his white avatar.

The Alexandrine Parakeets have been at their screechiest-best. The cashew-fruits are growing and they've been feasting on the tender nuts. Huge swarms (there's no better word to describe it!) descend on my trees and by the time they move away, the ground is littered with the shells. Frankly, I don't mind. It's worth it to see these gregarious birds up so close. These two were high up on a mahogany tree and very curious why I was focusing on them.

And, my Pariah Kite (Black Kite)! There are more of them nesting on my trees now and I love seeing them fly. Unlike other birds in flight, with them you can almost see those strong wing muscles tautening.
This tall teak tree is one of his favourite perches. I guess it gives him the perfect look-out point.

He has definitely got the snakes on the run, though. This little Buff Striped Keelback was racing to reach the cover of a few scattered dry leaves and cautiously poked his head out to see if everything was safe before quickly slipping back under them when he spotted me with this huge lens aimed directly at him. (I don't blame him... my new 70-300mm lens intimidates even me sometimes!) 

And, I know the Oriental Garden Lizards don't feel any safer. Camouflage will keep you safe only just so much. The razor-sharp eyes of a raptor can probably zero in on him from the top of a tree at the other end of the garden.

The Sparrows love my bird-bath. It's just a natural rock with a hollow on top which is right in the middle of my garden. I keep it topped up with water and in summer it is a bird magnet unlike anything else! Every single bird in the vicinity troops in and waits their turn. Some politely, some not. I guess that 1 minute of splashing in the water is worth the wait for them.
What's the bet that these birds have been waiting for the Monsoon as eagerly (if not, more) as us?

Maybe Summer could slip away incognito and leave this Common Jezebel to represent her. Seriously! Can you think of anything more Summer-y?!