Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Summer scenes in my garden

Mercury is soaring in Palakkad. The skies cloud over occasionally but no hint of rain. Summer showers have failed to materialize this year. The heat is oppressive and roads are deserted in the afternoons. The heat, not to mention the IPL matches, are keeping folks indoor.

Birds are no exception. They seek shelter of the few trees with a green canopy and my garden suddenly is like a bird sanctuary. I've kept bird baths in strategic places and they draw visitors all through the day. Yesterday morning I had a rather special visitor. A shikra, a small raptor.

Perhaps the heat was too much, it landed for a drink......
As it sat on the edge of the water pot it seemed lost in contemplation, till it saw me. It did not fly but shifted it's position so that it could see me without turning it's head.
After a few minutes it decided that the cool water was more tempting despite the fact that a rather curious human was standing only some 20 feet away. It decided to take the plunge.

After a few vigorous dips and shakes it climbed out, perhaps because my presence embarrassed it.

Although it looked rather wet and miserable it did not make a move to ruffle its feathers like all wet birds. It sat on the pot's edge and looked at me as if to ask, "Why are you staring at me? Can't you go away and let me be?"
I stood there with no intention of going anywhere. My camera was clicking furiously and the bird was watching me warily.
It must have realized, finally, that I was harmless because it turned back and plunged into the water again.
Then after a more minutes of cool soaking it clambered onto the edge again.
It looked at me with a rather disgusted look that said "Voyeur! Can't you let me enjoy my bath?" .....

............. then with a final vigorous shake to get rid of the dripping water it got ready to fly.
I know it'll return again, and I'll be waiting. Sometimes being called a voyeur is not all that bad!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Crossing

I've never been to Africa. The one place and an event I want to see before my time on earth draws to  a close is the wildebeest migration on the Masai Mara.

As if like a premonition, I witnessed one that gave me a gentle reminder that the time had come for the great crossing.

Place: Malampuzha reservoir, Palakkad, Kerala

The buffalo were crossing (not wildebeest!!). Sedately, wading through the shallows.

Till panic set in!! They turned as a group and rushed madly back into the safety of the waters. Some slipping in the slush and losing foot hold, others holding ground with panic in their eyes.

The reason. Local predators! Strays?

Five dogs with their owner?
Panic settles. The breath steadies, the heartbeats slow down. Is it safe?
Mid water consultation. The egret contributes to the discussion. The danger is fading from sight.
There is safety in numbers and the brave egret agrees!

The last one is safe and dry. The Crossing is over. Masai Mara or Malampuzha?