Monday, February 15, 2010

Flamingoes and Food for Thought

The most hectic weekend of my life ended in such physical exhaustion that I could sleep for three whole days! But the weekend was more than just a tiring one; it was a stimulating one too! So stimulating that I'm back to my blog! Although I must admit, I required some not-so-subtle nudges from Anuradha to get over my inertia.
Ever since Anuradha and Samhith introduced me to the joys of birding I've wanted to go on a birding trail with them. So when she told me late friday afternoon that she planned to sign up for Adesh's saturday morning trip to Sewri, I agreed to join them knowing full well that I had already planned too many things for the day. After the trip I had to go for a brunch, tidy up the house for a party, go for my driving class, shop for presents and host the party. Yes, I managed to do all that – to all those skeptical friends who've seen me frozen in the same posture for hours with a book in hand. And no, it was not a typical saturday for me; I'm not a socialite – to all those who are getting introduced to me through this post.
The day began with a joyful ride on a nearly empty Mumbai local and a walk to the jetty from the station. The sun had not quite done its rising for the day when we reached the jetty but we didn't get time to exclaim about the dawn. For there was a more unusual sight. The sea was bursting with flamingoes, literally thousands of them. And there was such silence that Samhith's excited, "hey look" was instantly shushed by the spoilsport grown-ups Anuradha and I turned into; however he bravely went on, albeit softly, "the flamingoes look white". Oh yes, they did! Owing to the soft light of the dawn, we reasoned in true grown-up fashion. But Samhith likes his magic as much as any six-year-old would. He adjusted his small binoculars, waited for a few minutes and declared, "they look pink through my binoculars, see". And of course they did.
We exclaimed, we watched in awed silence, we mourned human callousness; meanwhile the birds went about completing the elementary task of feeding themselves before the tide set in. Thousands of them were searching for food, while thousands of other living beings were turing into food. An entire eco system was working perfectly without any help from humans. In fact, we might have been disturbing it by our very presence. And yet, we have the arrogance to believe that the universe was made for mankind to use.
Thankfully, there still are a few people who care. Some of them were around that morning; telescopes, binoculars and cameras in tow. It was not very difficult to locate them. Soon, Anuradha and I realised exactly how wet we were behind our ears. Birds that we had assumed to be sandpipers turned out to be a dozen different species of birds. The pros in the crowd forgot about the flamingoes and gave us a well-meaning but totally unexpected lesson on the common errors in spotting and identifying birds. They patiently showed us precisely twelve kinds of waders in ten minutes within a radius of ten meters! I got a ringside view of the excitement seasoned bird-watchers feel when they spot a bird they would not have expected in those surroundings. A Black Capped Kingfisher's appearance generated quite a buzz!
The good girl in me made yet another public appearance: I fished out a pen and paper and jotted the names of all the birds we spotted. I will refrain from listing them here. In case you want to see the list, check Anuradha's blog. After having learnt about waders and stared at the graceful flamingoes to our hearts' content, we left to begin our noisier weekend activities. I did manage to do all the things I had set out to do that day and, in fact, enjoyed doing them. When I plonked into bed that night, I drifted into sleep with the peaceful picture of hundreds of flamingoes ploughing out their food.

1 comment:

Anu said...

Great one, Usha!! Must say, I think this is the best one on your blog so far, but maybe I am prejudiced :)