I start this piece with a twinge of guilt. Perhaps, if I had intervened I could have saved a life. It could have been my misplaced confidence that the predator was not likely to get to the prey, or my obsession with keeping the shutter firing as the drama unfolded, not three meters from me; but a life was lost and I'll carry that burden of guilt always.
An Eye Witness to a Murder
Saturday morning, a little past 7.15 AM, I picked up the newspaper and coffee and went to the office room. The morning was murky; Cyclone Laila was showing her abilities on the west coast of India too. I thought I'd open the door to let in some light. When I opened the door and my jaw dropped. Staring unblinkingly at my face from a few feet away was my old friend the Shikra!
It looked like it had become used to me, showing scant respect for a human being. It's attention was riveted to the bird cage my cook placed outside every morning.There were three finches in it they were and in total panic. The cage was strong and the shikra was too big to be able to squeeze it's head or claws through. It kept circling around looking for a way in. Climbing on the cage
Trying to get at one of the finches. All the while the three little birds kept moving to the farthest part of their enclosure.
For the next fifteen minutes there was absolute pandemonium. The shikra flying around the cage, a blurred mass of feathers outside, while the finches were fluttering around inside keeping as far away as possible from their tormentor.
Finally the shikra settled on the chair to rework it's strategy. I could have touched it and it wouldn't have blinked. Such was the confidence in it's eyes.
The last bird that stared at me like this was a Crested Serpent Eagle in BR Hills, but that was a juvenile and inexperienced with humans.
It descended once again, looking at me confidently. The expression said, "Watch now. I'll teach you how to hunt". The event's that unfolded next happened in a flash.
Before I realized what happened the shikra was "attached" to the cage beyond my line of sight. Realizing that something was horribly wrong I ran to the front door. I knew I was too late. The little finch was already dead. The shikra flew off dropping the dead bird. Perhaps the narrow gaps between the bars prevented the hunter from dragging it out but there was no escape from death.
The two survivors are looking listless. Perhaps they realize that the cage offered no security. I've asked for the cage to be placed in the kitchen and I've convinced my son that the remaining two should be released.
I've also realized the consequences of being wedded to the DSLR! One becomes oblivious to the world around you. Why blame media photographers!