Apr 3, 2015

अग्नि पंख! अग्नि पंख! अग्नि पंख!!

वृक्ष हों भले खड़े
हों घने, हों बड़े
एक पत्र छाँह भी
मांग मत! मांग मत! मांग मत!
अग्निपथ! अग्निपथ! अग्निपथ!

These iconic verse by Dr Harivanshrai Bachchan were made more so with Amitabh reciting these in his deep baritone for his movie Agnipath.

As an avid Flamingo watcher, looking at them going about their business – stoically with a typical British upturned nose - on shore or at ponds under the watch of a hot Sun is such a joy. As they take walk or stand contemplating some philosophical thoughts of their kind on those long lanky limbs (ah, again that Amitabh connection) – suitable for a ramp walk  -  I find these verse of Dr Bachchan apt provided I replace the last line with the word “अग्नि पंख” – a moniker coined for Flamingos.

25_05_20148618060131_mating_dance crop

Agni Pankh - “the wings of fire” - suits them so perfectly; specially as they reach their breeding period & don the deep hues of flamming orange-red plummage. Perhaps these fiery wings are the reason for them to be equated to the mythical Phoenix who after living a long – a very long life of more than 500 years – would regenerate itself from the pyre of flames in which it has immolated itself. No wonder, they are termed scientifically Phoenicopterus, the only genus in the family Phoenicopteridae.

IMG_2015_03_22_011131flamingo sky crop

One of my earliest memories of these magnificent fliers is from a documentary on flamingos & their habitat in Kutch produced by Indian Films Division in mid 70s & for a long time was one of the sub-features in most of the cinema halls.  Little was I aware of their annual migration to the shores of my city. It was only a few years ago when my eyes opened to the whole new vista of huge flocks that grace this city every migratory season. Since then nothing has been able to deter me from visiting those haunts every season with my Canon 7D & lenses; sit at a distance with adequate nourishment (perhaps more than adequate, sometimes) and try to capture their moods. 

IMG_2015_03_22_011163Flamingoe on the run crop

Here are a few of these labour of my love – set as usual to extracts from a couple of poems: one - "The Phoneix Bird" by none other than Hans Christian Anderson & another - "The Stately Flamingoes" by R M Ingersley. I am sure if not the images, the poems shall be good reason for you, too, have a fiery passion for them - to match their wings of fire:

IMG_2015_03_22_011235Flamingoe Adult portrait crop
The bird perished in the flames;
but from the red egg in the nest there fluttered aloft a new one
the one solitary Phoenix bird.
The fable tells that he dwells in Arabia,
and that every hundred years, he burns himself to death in his nest;
But each time a new Phoenix,
the only one in the world,
rises up from the red egg.
The bird flutters round us,
swift as light,
beauteous in color,
charming in song.
- See more at: http://www.mythicalrealm.com/creatures/phoenix2.html#sthash.VYNv99SO.dpuf

In the Garden of Paradise, 
beneath the Tree of Knowledge, 
bloomed a rose bush. 
Here, in the first rose, a bird was born. 
His flight was like the flashing of light, 
his plumage was beauteous, 
and his song ravishing. (Anderson)


FLAMINGOES rare that haunt the shimmering strand,
When slow, on stately wings, they wheel in flight,
Seem everchanging clouds of pink and white
And flashing scarlet, far above the land. (Ingersley)

 IMG_2015_03_22_010806Flamingoes crop 2

The bird flutters round us, swift as light,
beauteous in color, charming in song.
He flies through the chamber of content,
and brings sunshine into it,
and the violets on the humble table smell doubly sweet. (Anderson)

IMG_2015_03_22_010987flamingo portrait

Anon, the flock lights on the dreary bank
Of some great pestilential swamp, to feed,
Curving their necks amongst the tangled weed
They search, and not in vain, the herbage rank ;(Ingersley)

IMG_2015_03_22_010853Flamingoes s

The Bird of Paradise- renewed each century
born in flame, ending in flame!
Thy picture, in a golden frame,
 hangs in the halls of the rich,
but thou thyself often fliest around,
lonely and disregarded, a myth- "The Phoenix of Arabia." (Anderson)

IMG_2014_11_01_000038flight to the Sunflight to the Sun_1_crop

Now, when the feast is brought unto its end,
Or sentries warn with signals loud and harsh,
Echoing throughout the vastness of the marsh,
They mount in chainlike flight, and homeward wend,(Ingersley)

 IMG_2015_03_21_010299flamingoes crop

In Paradise, when thou wert born in the first rose,
beneath the Tree of Knowledge,
thou receivedst a kiss,
and thy right name was given thee - thy name,
Poetry! (Anderson)

P.S.: For more images of these stately flamingoes, please do visit my album Agni-Pankh at the following link: