Mar 6, 2014

Once Upon A Time In Bharatpur...

(Sarus Cranes & Night-jars - the two birds have been eluding me for a long time and hence were on top of my wishlist which I rattled off to our guide-cum-rickshaw driver at Bharatpur. Continuing with the tradition, they remained unseen, and yet the trip was far from being a disappointment. Perhaps, there was a touch of nature's magical wand. Here is an account of what I imagine could have happened, once upon a time in Bharatpur....)

“Mom, Mom, he’s here, he’s here”, cawed the Crow!

“Who?” enquired Mother Nature “What’s making you so pale?”

“What? Pale? Let me look at myself in this pond. Nah, this is just some of the stuff that got stuck to me while I was rummaging through the field. Hmm.., come to think of it, a little more of this and wouldn’t that make me resemble a treepie?”

“No, and I forbid you from trying it. As it is, I find it difficult to distinguish you from your other brothers of the crow family. Anyway, what has ruffled your feathers?”

“Oh, the ruffled feathers are just a part of my new look. You know, I got this idea while taking a dip in that stream, and..”

“Crow, would you please get to the issue that has caused you such consternation, than rambling on about your looks?”

“Mom, remember that guy last year who wished to see the Sarus Crane pair, just about the time when those mammoth birds had flown off vacationing?!”

“Oh yes!  Troubled as I was, I managed to ward this human off. It was, of course, a cruel trick to play, getting him to quarrel with his lovely wife, and the way they went off in a huff made me feel a little guilty. For a moment there, I was aghast, thinking I perhaps went too far. Fortunately, I saw them at Tajmahal later, happy and back to normal. Whatever that poet Sahir may say about Tajmahal, something is surely romantic about that “Mohabbat ki Nishani”.”

“Oh good Lord, that’s cheesy. Et Tu?  Anyhow, he is here again, and it was my good fortune that I heard him talking to that guide, Raju Singh, saying he is desirous of seeing the Sarus Crane pair and, believe me or not, the Night-jars. You should have seen the look on that Jungle Babbler's face - aghast & angry. Fortunately I had the sense and I came straight to you, flying as a crow flies”


“Uh-oh! What an inopportune time! Had he been here yesterday, he could have watched them for as long as he wished to. It is not possible now, as with weekend rush already over, they just wandered off for a much needed respite. Well, there’s not much that can be done now, other than maybe letting him see Nightjars, at least.”

“Not possible Mom! They have decided to stick to their work-to-schedule plan, and will reveal themselves only in the night. They are of the opinion that too much advantage is being taken of them, as bipeds capture their images even during the day, despite their being known as night-jars. Believe me, it is quite jarring – this whole attitude.”

“Pray, Raven, do not be racist. For that matter, even you all are bipeds.”

“Well, at least we have feathers, and we flock together.”

“Yes, and remember, when you crows get together, it is called a Murder! I seriously wonder, why should Nightjars complain? The owlets do not – they get spotted all the time, and yet have not asked themselves to be named something other than Spotted Owlets."


"Now, let me see, I have already ordained a fog-heavy day for tomorrow, so I need to be concerned only about the present, and partially, tomorrow afternoon. For some part of this time, my well-arranged landscapes can enrapture him. Now for the remaining part of his trip, I need to marshal my resources. Go forth, go now, and tell all the birds and mammals to put their shoulder to the wheel. It is showtime!”

“Even the elusive ones?”

“Especially, the elusive ones, I am afraid; Otherwise, this guy may not turn up here again. He was quite disappointed last year as well. Did he ask for anyone else specifically?”

02_03_20135947037372 C 2

“No, but having watched him, and the way he eyes those calendars, he would love to sight some kingfishers." 


"Fortunately, that little pompous, pampered brat will be perched atop its favourite place– always posing to get photographed! Let me tell you, this social networking has turned him into a mini celebrity. You should see how he upturns his beak at most of us.”

“Oh, it is a minor matter – and pray do not be like humans, always grudging someone for his looks, brains or skills. You are a bird, so behave like one, content with what you have. I am more worried about what else we can unravel for him. Okay, here is an idea - speak to Black Bitterns and ensure that at least one of them is visible to him.”


“Bitterns? They are so reticent & shy. I have half a mind to ask them, ‘once bitterns why shy?” The crow cackled in laughter.

“Your jokes have gone from bad to terrible. It is time for those Bitterns to take up center stage. That would also make them understand what others have to put up with when these human beings are around. By the way, where are those Ruby-throats. Have they arrived from Siberia?”


“Oh yes, met one of them today, while it was flitting around among bushes, trying to avoid those two photographers who have been camping at her favourite tavern since yesterday, with their bazooka kind of lenses. I really do not understand how high & mighty you allow these migrant birds to behave!”

“Whoa! Stop this talk of migrants & residents! Remember, even though you are in too much of a proximity to those human beings, this behavior is unbecoming even for a human. These smaller birds fly such a huge distance to meet all of us here. So let us be warm to them, and share the bounty. There is enough for everyone’s need, though not for everyone’s greed. Getting back to the birds in bush, please inform at least one of them to be available for sighting when this guy moves around. Of course, if it does not want to be sighted by others, it is fine by me.”

“Okay, you are the best judge!”

“Yes. I hope those human beings also understand that I am the best judge. Anyway, let me see who else is available. Perhaps a few of those lapwings..”


“Oh, those bossy birds?”

“Why bossy?”

“Well, I rarely see them doing anything themselves, and yet all they do is to keep asking …Did-you-do-it?”

“Crow, do not waste time in these silly semantics! I know patience is supposed to be my secret, but you are tiring me out. Go now & inform everyone else also. Include some of the ducks  too– specially the visiting ones, and geese. They­­­ can do with some attention, as well.”

“Not all geese are present. Being a long weekend, those bar-headed ones have headed off to the nearby watering-hole.”

“Ah, Chambal! Yes, I know, and fortunately for him, he could sight them when he was there, too. But remember to tell the other flock. They must try to be visible, even if it is so cold." 


"I know another good surprise that I can throw to make him happy – ask those snakebirds to slither around and show off their hunting skills. The more the drama they can create, the more they will enchant him." 


"Also, those raptors! Ask them to heed me with rapt attention and hover around. One never knows when they can be of paramount importance.”


"Don't forget any of the mammals too, though I know you are scared of them. Perhaps a dash or two of Fox too can divert his attention from his wishlist."


"And yes, to those branched off ones from the ancestors of human beings, remind them not to monkey around too much. They end up hogging all attentions, always!"


“Okay, okay! Understood. Pull out all stops, is what you want us to do. But tell me, why are you being so generous?”

“Oh, it is just another moment for me. However, for him? Well, like most of them who come here, he also treats me as a source of solace, inspiration, adventure, and delight. At the same time, somehow he is stuck to the idea – acquired from one of his favourite authors, that when you really want something to happen, the whole world conspires to help you achieve it.”

“So? How does this help him?”

“It is time for him to learn that even when one may not find what one is looking for, there is always a surprise in store for those who are ready to spend time with me." 

"Wasn't it another of my admirer John Muir who had said, so rightfully - "In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks"."

"He must learn what another of his favorite authors Thoreau had said, 'If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hour.’”

“Caww – I mean Wow”

“I know he is unable to get what he is seeking right now, but once he experiences this magical land and the populace of these enchanting winged creatures that I have here, he would like to return again, pursuing his dream. It is important for him to have patience and learn that it is the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.”

(Dear readers, this is how I ended up getting to see and capture, through my lens, some of the most beautiful feathered friends, a few displayed here, and others on the link given below:

And yes, getting back to those birds that I started with, Sarus & Night-jars, I am sure, not too far in future, Nature willing, I will be able to get some lovely captures of those lovely birds too.)

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Ashok Maheshwari said...

Ashish, this is simply brilliant. Wow!! Its a pity that the Sarus Cranes avoided you. We had a wonderful sighting of these magnificent birds at the Nal Sarovar in 2004.

sunil deepak said...

Love these images, especially those owls! :)