This jetty point , which I spoke about in my earlier post, is rarely visited by many people. I said people, but not birds. Lots of birds know about this area. Some travel distances across continents to reach it every winter. I hear the Flamingos have arrived, though that trip is still on my “to do”; but there are many more species which have made it their “vacation home”. You can see them all “talking” to each other in the picture above.
Black tailed Godwits in Flight.
A Painted Stork in flight.
A Common Redshank foraging for its breakfast.
A Black Headed Ibis in flight.
I didn’t mention the egrets, cormorants and other birds which inhabit these surroundings and don’t mind these yearly visitors. As I said, I saw them “talking” to each other.
There is a difference between looking and observing. You may look at a pretty picture, but you may need to observe more closely why it is the way it is. Watching Birds has taught me more things about life disregarding the assumption of birds as “bird brains”. But there seems to be more ticking in their minds, through self education and the ever present “instincts”. Here are five things that I have definitely observed.
1. Birds get up early in the morning and sleep early at night. The bird gets up early to catch the worm literally! There is this Yellow Wagtail and a RedStart that forage the dust field below my verandah each morning each competing for some tiny worm. Eating a breakfast in the morning after getting up early is another thing you can learn. So, it lives by a natural rhythm that nature intended for it in the first place.
2.Birds of different species live together in harmony. Birds don’t differentiate on basis of colour, sounds of the call or type of nest to be able to live together harmoniously on the same tree and share the same branch or eat from the same fruit. Of course predatory Kites, Vultures excluded and that’s the reason they are mostly found away from these other birds. Unlike humans who seek ownership of whichever place they find first.
3. Birds share the resources with each other. A pair of cuckoos, a Crow, a family of mynahs, a flock of 20 oriental white-eyes and many other birds live on this mango tree outside, sharing the fruit of the tree in season. They don’t fight with each other. Unless they are a bunch of noisy babblers.
4. Birds have Life skills: They know by instinct how to feed their young ones and build their own nests. They are rarely “unemployed” or “too busy” for their young ones basic needs. They have few needs and thus few skills to master. As a result also the young ones mature fast and learn how to fly & live independently.
5.Birds are Adaptable: When it is icy cold in northern hemisphere in winters and the waters freeze, they fly south to better “pastures” by migrating. But they seldom do this alone, they migrate in large numbers and always willing to make the journey year after year. So when a change is required, they make the change happen , rather than wait for something to happen.
Beauty is in Nature. We usually regard man-made interventions a threat to natural beauty. Like this dam above. It’s basic job is to harness the river water into electricity. But when birds, sometimes from trans Himalayan countries, find an oasis for their seasonal winter travel, even the government can do little but proclaim this as a bird sanctuary.
Thousands of birds every year , like this flock of bar headed geese, flock to the waters of Pong Dam. Living in the marshes, bathing in the cool waters, eating fish from the waters, eating crop out of the farmers fertile field! That last one is tricky.
This young boy, all of 16 is part of the village community farming on the fertile fields. At night, he along with few others keep guard on their paddy fields during the sowing season (right now). They use their torch lights, sometimes loud music to scare the birds, which arrive in flocks of hundreds. Early morning, he says is quite a sight, with over 4000- 5000 birds resting on the marshes.The number of birds used to be in lakhs a couple of years ago. But they created havoc to the villagers crop.
Although the dam area is concentrated, as in the first picture, the birding areas are all along the river. Many little villages have a nondescript street or lane towards what is the “sanctuary”. Most people around are not much aware of this area and that birds like bar headed geese, shelducks, green winged teal, seagulls, Egyptian vulture and many others have made this their winter home. Glad to have found it. Hardly 2 hrs from home.