Saturday, November 18, 2017


Far away tonight, but
Let me not miss you

Let me be a stranger again

So that I may find you,

In thunder, lightning
And in blazing rain

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Brown Shrike in Ranchi

For a few days now, I been hearing a screech screech chirping from a little birdie in the trees. Yesterday suddenly, I could get a clear view and took some pictures. 

From the shape of the beak, it looked like a shrike, but so little! And the bandit mask around the eyes is there as well, though a bit faded and the white brow above. So this is probably the brown shrike, and I noticed this bird for the first time! 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Dasham Falls

The Dasham Falls ( literally meaning sound of falling water) are exactly 43 kms from our place in Ranchi. Situated on the Kanchi river, it is a popular tourist destination during the winter months, when the water is very clear. During the rains, the water is a bit muddy and with the advent of winter, the water turns clearer.  

The spray drenches you completely as you approach the falls.  Water rises very quickly during the rains and the current is very strong, and several youngsters have been washed away in the past.

The surrounding land is claimed by the Mundari people, one of the original tribes of the Chhota Nagpur plateau. This stone tablet tells us of their claims and lawsuits filed. Maoist guerillas are also active in the region, although they do not bother tourists in general. I found some of these women selling forest mushrooms and bamboo shoots which sell for a lot more in Ranchi city. 

In case you feel hungry, you can place an order for red hot chicken curry and rice which would be ready in about an hour. Free range chicken of course! 

Monday, July 31, 2017

Monsoon breaking

The monsoon season is here and how! Incessant rains for five days in Ranchi and Bankura, leading to water-logging in the streets and the rivers in spate. Release of huge volumes of water from the dams of the DVC (Damodar Valley Corporation) which in turn, floods the town of Bankura. 

We have all known the rains, the rhymes and the pitter patter and the magic of the bounty from the skies. Indians know the rains to be season of malhar. The raga Miyan Ki Malhar is known to be a creation of Tansen, a courtier and the foremost exponent of Indian classical music during the times of emperor Akbar in the 17th century. Legend has it that once the raga is sung correctly and fervently, the skies would darken and the clouds rumble, bringing down the heat after the hot and torrid summertime. The sudden rush of cool wind through the thick foliage of the jamun tree. Rains and the sound of distant thunder. 

The rain
has stilled tonight

But it was only yesterday
that the rain was pelting down

In sheets, and an angry,
howling wind

Fuming, raging
Rattling the window panes

Distraught, in despair
Tugging, tearing

at heartstrings;
And now

The wind has stilled
and so has the rain

Even though the sky
is lit up in a sullen glow

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Nesting birds

It's time to move once again, this time to eastern India. Couldn't help but notice the nesting birds in and around our place in Faridabad, quite like the time was to move from Gurgaon. 

It was a certain heaviness in the otherwise sleek yellow footed green pigeon that caught my attention at first 

Finally, I could locate its nest on the top branches of an oleander bush, well covered by the flowering creeper Madhumalati. Can you see the bird peeking out?

This was probably not a very good location, and I saw it after a few days inside the deodar tree. 

Looked in retrospect, a little perturbed by the attention it was getting from me, now appearing to question my motives, now appearing to fluff up its chest in a show of valor  

Yellow footed green pigeon, Faridabad
Meanwhile, the neem tree (margosa) was in flower like never before, and the ground below was a carpet of  white with fallen flowers 

And so was the krishnachura tree or gulmohar 

The deodar tree harbored another nest, that of the oriental white eye. 

Oriental white eye, Faridabad
The woven nest was quite small, smaller than a teacup! 

Left the bird to its own devices, for we must keep our distance from them during nesting activities.

And so, while these birds carry on with their nesting, it's time to move my nest once again.

In the mood for smooth jazz today, so here is Lily: Lily was here by Candy Dulfer and Dave Stewart

Saturday, June 17, 2017

An hour at the Asola Bhatti Sanctuary

This is the only sanctuary in the Delhi area as I learnt. Many times, while going to Delhi via Surajkund, I have noticed the signboard and I really regret not being able to visit earlier and at leisure. Chaps from the BNHS (Bombay Natural History Society) run the place, and its education officers accompany every group. On certain Sundays, visitors are allowed access to a lake deep inside the 21 sq km sanctuary, which sounded like a birding hotspot, apart from being the abode of wild jackals. And blackbuck, that exquisitely beautiful antelope of which so few remain in the wild

Since we were rather late, past 4 p.m, we were allowed access only to the butterfly garden and the beginnings of nature trails. Mr Ahmed accompanied us after our names were registered and the entry fees paid

Immediately thereafter, we spotted the pied crested cuckoo perched on a tree

Pied Crested Cuckoo, Asola Bhatti Sanctuary
The bird appeared to lead us on into the sanctuary and allowed us to take a few pictures

Mr Ahmed pointed out the long tailed shrike to us. Among the shadows, it was difficult to get clear pictures

Long tailed Shrike, Asola Bhatti Sanctuary
We were not allowed further ingress into the forest as it was already 5 p.m. Spotted a nilgai (blue bull) and huge peacocks from a distance and then suddenly, what appeared to be a piece of rock turned out to be an Indian Stone Curlew, quiet and still

Indian Stone Curlew, Asola Bhatti Sanctuary

Also saw the oriental white eye, the indian silverbill, the ashy prinia and the oriental magpie robin, common birds seen in the Delhi area.

The magpie robin was perched strategically, singing its heart out 

In case you are interested, you are welcome to visit the website of the Conservation Education Centre of the Asola Bhatti Sanctuary here 

And here is a whiteboard displayed at the entrance to the CEC, announcing recent sightings. Interestingly, leopard pugmarks as well!

The Shikra at close quarters

I have seen this bird many times, perched on the fencing of the small grove adjoining our house in Faridabad. And always it flew away as soon as it saw me looking at it. Its really quite small, hardly bigger than a pigeon and I am glad we could catch him recently 

Male Shikra, Faridabad
Also known as the Indian sparrowhawk or little banded goshawk. Although widely distributed, such close sightings are rare and it must have been drawn by something in the surroundings 

The female was also nearby, with yellow eyes in place of the ruby red of the male ...