Monday, March 6, 2006

A Saturday morning at Lalbagh

The elusive Paradise Flycatcher, a wounded Eagle and the fleeting glimpse of a Coppersmith Barbet
- A Saturday morning at Lalbagh

Part I (Waiting in the Japanese Garden)

I guess it is becoming pretty obvious that I am turning to be a birder :) Every chance I get, I am off to Lalbagh to catch some of the exotic (Read the ones I’ve never seen!) birdies I read about in the Bangalore Birds Group.

This weekend was no different. I was intent on sighting the beautiful Paradise Flycatcher from the moment I read a mail on the bngbirds group that went “I have been spotting a male Paradise Flycatcher with splendid chestnut colored streamers @ Lalbagh…”. I am sure you would agree that description is enough to make anyone even remotely interested in birds sit up and take notice – and let’s say am more than ‘remotely interested’.

So there we were at Lalbagh, a little late for the joggers crowd but still early compared to the lazy sleep-in Bangaloreans, all prepared to chase the Paradise Flycatcher and get at least a single shot on our proud Kodak Zoom Cam. And believe me you when I say it was a beautiful and perfect day – the skies had opened up while we were all cozily sleeping during the night to give us a fantastic and chilly yet bright weather. Almost seemed as if the Gods were willing to favor me and set up a ‘must-attend’ meeting that the Flycatcher can’t ignore :)

I was in a ‘shoot at sight’ mood – a bench that seemed dirty a week ago looked like it was the perfect shot to win a photo competition. Never mind that I had an ulterior motive to take pics with ‘Water’ to enter the Bangalore Shutter Bugs photo contest for the week!

The first thing to do of course was to find out where exactly the “male Paradise Flycatcher with splendid chestnut colored streamers” was spotted…according to the information I had, it was at the Japanese Garden. Now where is this Japanese Garden for heaven’s sake? And pray tell which tree in the Japanese Garden? Now, now, I know what you are thinking – that I can’t even wait patiently and find the little birdie by myself in the Japanese Garden. If I am right (about what you are thinking!), then that shows your ignorance on birding matters. Especially ignorance on the plights of amateur birders.
So we walked and walked and walked and finally reached an area that had a board confirming the destination we were heading to – Just that I didn’t see anything there that even remotely resembled a Japanese garden! Not that I know how a Japanese garden looks! But surely they don’t have voluptuous statues clad in Indian clothes in their gardens in Japan? You never know uh?
We sat there waiting expectantly for over half an hour looking around here and there when I suddenly realized “Does this bird hop on the ground? Play in the bushes? Fly over the trees? Or sit pretty on the branches?” Where am I supposed to look???? The only thing I saw were some friendly doggies on the ground and thick green cover above! I almost hit myself when I realized I knew zilch about the characteristics of the Flycatcher and well, I stand a zero chance at spotting it with my zero patience!

Hmm, the Gods were not so great after all :(

I let myself be dragged away, with dropping shoulders and the promise of “Bennae Dosa” (Butter Dosa)… wishing that the Flycatcher was a kinder bird, a bird that could read minds of people sitting in Japanese Gardens, a bird that knew I wouldn’t hurt a single feather in its body and a bird that would make friends easily…

To be continued – Part II (To save or let die)