Traveler

Following feathers in Munnar

By Gayatri Hazarika

Every time something touches me deep, words lose their power and shine. I am fascinated by bird-watching, a recent journey of continuous discovery. Wordplay is to this garden of senses what a review is to a masterpiece.

Grey-breasted Laughingthrush in MunnarYou can ditch the soul stuff and look at birds as they are, and glow. My husband confirms this. He pores over birds in forests, backyards, books, lakes, urban canopies, garbage dumps, road dividers, and Facebook… you get the idea!

Like excited children, we exchange both sensual poetry and avian jargon at the end of each birding session; sometimes, we do so in hoarse whispers during a session itself.

Bird-watching reveals, with a magician's swoosh, the secret life in the woods. Look sharp and long, and they appear, each in its own element — furtive, restless, meditative, sloppy, elegant, foolish, proud, nonchalant — and in a puzzling minutiae of colors. You have only moments to note the precise shade of plumage, shape of the tail, trajectory of its flight --  enough detail to overwhelm a pair of excited eyes.

But not all of them are flashy show-offs.  The ones with sober colors advertise their presence with tweets, chirps and whistles, and a rich repertoire of mating calls, territory defense, socializing and, guess what, mimicry! So keep those ears cocked, just as an expectant hunter uncocks his gun. Birding may well be the much needed grease on your rusty senses fallen into disuse under urban sensibilities.

With birding, you learn the relation between the bird-spotting and the corresponding weather, time, month, altitude, location, etc. And for all the neck pain from craning at the canopy, you build some good calf muscles without having to put up with gym interiors.

Equal parts traveler, photographer, artist and writer, Gayatri Hazarika lives in Bangalore where she works as a communication specialist in the IT industry. Enjoy her photos from a bird-watching trip in Munnar:

White-bellied Shortwing: A rare endemic of the Western Ghats, this sparrow-sized bird (with long legs for hopping) mostly forages on the ground for worms and grubs. “Endemic” refers to a species ... more 
White-bellied Shortwing: A rare endemic of the Western Ghats, this sparrow-sized bird (with long legs for hopping) mostly forages on the ground for worms and grubs. “Endemic” refers to a species found in one geographic region and nowhere else. less 
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Yahoo Lifestyle | Photo by Gayatri Hazarika
Wed 25 Apr, 2012 1:30 PM IST

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