“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better” - Albert Einstein
We were able to relish the nuances of nature as my second mother who cradled me assiduously was the Queen of hills – the Nilgiris. Our heart was drawn towards her beauty which was pure and selfless; which gave everything and expected nothing in return. That is why we call her “our mother”.
Our family too instilled the aesthetic sense in us, before we could develop an interest in photography. Since our parents wanted us to develop more productive hobbies, they did not install “the idiot box” at home and so, our interest turned towards fine arts - especially bird-watching, music and painting. We learnt to spend more time with Mother Nature.
Our acquaintance with nature drew us towards birds. But, why birds? It was because it was those birds which taught mankind, to live as a family; to build a home and work tirelessly till they achieved their goals. The absence of noise created by a television helped us to develop a keen sense of vision and sound, which in turn helped us to concentrate on the beautiful and distinct bird calls. Bird watching is not about sitting somewhere and looking at birds. It conveys a much deeper sense. We practiced silence and patience which form the basis of bird watching. Our interests developed gradually as we grew up. Our discoveries on the roads of Kovaipudur proved that one does not need to go into the forests to enjoy the beauty of nature. We were astonished to find that Kovaipudur was already a home to many bird varieties.
THE COMMON THOUGHT THAT WE NEED TO TRAVEL FAR TO CLICK GOOD PHOTOGRAPHS IS A TABOO.
We started off with looking at all the cute little birds who visited our house - starting from parrots to sparrows, sunbirds, prinias, mynahs, wagtails, even crows and so on. We started observing their life cycle and identified their calls and even recorded them in our phones. With this bird watching hobby of ours, soon we ventured further into our neighborhood to find out more about these birds. Photography was the key tool that was our aid. Our constant experiments with the DSLR threw light on all the tiny aspects of nature.
Acquainting ourselves with the calls of birds is the first step to bird watching. The call of a crow is the most distinct one which we all are familiar with! But crows themselves make nearly 4-5 types of calls based on their situation. The chirps of many birds are so deceiving that we may interpret them for another!
Bird watching means patience. It means dedication and devotion. It needs patience to find out where a bird lives, and to keep a track of it. Not all birds build nests. Some birds rest in the holes in the trees. And some even borrow the nests of others. So the prime issue is to find out the dwelling place of a bird and wait for it patiently. For instance, the black-rumped flameback (a type of woodpecker) lives in tree-holes. Similarly, the barbets (kukkuruvaan in Tamil) also reside in tree-holes. Sunbirds build small hanging nests on shrubs close to human habitation, while bulbuls and babblers build cup-shaped nests on shrubs.
The purple-rumped sunbird (thaenchittu in Tamil)
This is a common bird whose sweet chirping can be heard all day long. It is a small bird with a long and bent beak which makes it easy to suck nectar from flowers. The male is distinguished by a black body, a shiny head, and yellow on its belly while, the female is mild brown in colour. This bird builds hanging nests and normally lays 3-4 eggs. We got the splendid opportunity to witness a full life-cycle of this bird, as the nest was built very close to our window.
The white-cheeked barbet (ven kanna kukkuruvan in Tamil)
We found this fresh-green, palm-sized bird near Nagapillayar temple at Kovaipudur and mistook it for a small parrot. Making its hole in a huge tree there, it was feeding its younger ones through the hole. It was a marvelous sight early in the morning and we didn’t hesitate to freeze the moment with our camera. We later found out that this bird is a common visitor to many gardens, but owing to its ability to camouflage with the environment (its green colour, brown beak and white cheek), makes it difficult to spot it even when it is close.
The Coppersmith barbet (semmarbu kukkuruvan in Tamil)
Barbets are characterized by stiff hairs pointing out in all sides from their beak. This coppersmith barbet is a smaller variety of barbet (smaller than the one mentioned earlier). It is grayish black in colour and has red and yellow patches which stand out in contrast. Punctuality is their second name, as we always find them, sharp at 7 am in the morning, perching on a tree exactly opposite to the E.B. Office at Kovaipudur. The call of this bird is a repetitive “hoot-hoot” similar to the beating of an iron rod and hence the name.
The lesser golden-backed woodpecker (Pon mudhugu marangothi in Tamil)
The beautiful golden colour on its back has given this bird its name. It also has a bright red colour patch on its head, which has lead to the origin of its other common name “The flameback”. This bird was constantly spotted in the huge trees of 100ft. road at Kovaipudur, feeding on worms from the barks of trees.
Golden Oriole (maanguyil in Tamil)
We were extremely lucky enough to find golden orioles a lot of times perching in the neem tree of our house. This bright yellow bird, with contrasting black lines on her body, is truly a feast to human eyes. The eyes of the bird are surrounded by a black lining- as though Kajal was applied to them. When we thought that this must be some migratory bird that has come to our place, It was a proud moment to find that this bird already had a name in Tamil and was called “maanguyil”, owing to its plumage resembling the ripe yellow colour of a mango.
Rufous Treepie (Vaal kaakkai in Tamil)
This bird looks like a coloured crow with a long tail. Elegant as it is, we spotted this bird feeding on fruits of trees. The bird does not have a sweet call; it’s rather a harsh, piercing screech. However, there is a variation in the call when it comes to mating season and it is a musical call, with raising and falling tones. The bird has white and brownish orange stripes over its wings and tail. It is found very close to human habitation, but since it hides, it cannot be easily spotted.
- Gayatri R. and Matangi R.