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Monday, September 08, 2008

Of Squirrels and night herons

First of all, let me apologize for not having returned for such a long time. I did promise a post on bees, but have been so constrained that I was unable to work out that post at all. It did need a couple of fresh photographs that I didn't take at all.

Now that I've the excuses out of the way let me tell you about Saturday morning. The first morning in the last six months that my family and I have been able to get out and about.

Lal Bagh beckoned but we were late to see any of the birds that might have been there. Munias flew from tree to tree but always silhouetted by the early morning sunlight that streamed through the leafy branches and set off whistles and trills from the mynahs while the crows and cuckoos called for their bit of attention.

Joggers and walkers strode on, oblivious to the morning shift that was being played out before their eyes. Our first stop was to try to see the Mottled Wood Owl since Trupti hadn't seen it at all. Our disappointment was acute, the owl wasn't in residence.

We wandered on, taking in the sights and breathing the redolent odours, unidentifiable by an uninitiated like me but Trupti drew deep breaths when we walked on a carpet of tube roses.

I was busy looking at some patterns on the flowers that dot the sides of the path when Trupti called out softly to tell me that a three-striped palm squirrel (chipmunks for my American friends) was snoozing on a branch just out of my reach and above my head.

It was this little one. It had just woken up and was yet to come to grips with the world around it for the day.
As we watched it, it decided that it had better get a move on. Trupti, Adu, and I were absolutely thrilled to see that we weren't the only ones who needed a stretch...

... and then a yawn.

I was directly below the little fellow and managed to snap off a picture of its little pink tongue sticking out.

It went off on its way to breakfast and we trundled off faithfully to check on our favorite birds at Lal Bagh - the spotted owlets - no, I'm not putting up any more pictures of owlets as yet - and then tiredly decided to go up to the lake for a quick look around.

Cormorants swept up in the air, landed quietly in the water and ducked under to see if they could grab a fish or two for break fast, but otherwise, the lake was still and silent. There wasn't even the hint of any other bird around.

A short bridge breaks the lake from a little backwater. More like a swamp than a pond, this is filled with lillies and lotuses. This season, the pond was full of leaves but few flowers showed their pretty faces. And then among the green leaves and plastic debris we found the night heron.

The night heron stood stock still for a few minutes and then looked like it was going to regurgitate it's food. It ducked its head, seemed to thrust up something in its throat and opened its beak but nothing else happened.

We watched for a while, but got bored with its rather statue like stance and turned our attention to the moorhens instead. They were certainly more entertaining.

Their long toes helped them stride across the lily pads like they were waking about on dry land only occasionally stopping long enough for the pad to sink slightly under their weight while they wrested some little tidbit and munched on it delicately.

We did manage to see some lovely mushrooms and spider lilies but they will have to wait for another post.


Anonymous said...

Great account and photos..The Yawn was toooooo cute for words!

Hope we are able to go for some birding together as you should be (hopefully) a little more free now...

Anonymous said...

Yawning squirrel is very cute...

Couch Potato said...

Thanks Deponti. Yes, we should go birding. I've been missing your company for quite a while now.

Mamta, Thank you for dropping in on my blog. And thanks for your comment. My wife still goes into anthropomorphic raptures over that squirrel.

travel plaza said...

Great pictures!!The yawning squirrel is the best. Glad you guys had a good time:))

Couch Potato said...

Thank you TP. Going to Lal Bagh now has become passe. We can go there any time we want but it's the hills and the forests that we yearn for. Perhaps we will shortly.

travel plaza said...

Yes, you must make time and go out...BTW, I saw your Flickr page. You have some amazing pictures there.

Sanna said...

While the yawning squirrel was very cute I found the feet of the moorhen very interesting. The first thing I noted was how big they are.

Nice photos and nice blog post.

Couch Potato said...

Thank you for dropping in. That was the first time I had seen a squirrel yawn too, though, on searching the web, I found several pictures of various types of squirrels caught in mid-yawn.
Moorhen's toes are very elongated to enable them to stride across the lily pads in ponds like the one in the picture.

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