Arboreal Flash in Reconnaissance

  • Sept. 20, 2020, 12:36 a.m.
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  • Public

I am familiar with all the sounds - bird calls to be precise around my world. I know which ones own those couple of trees and who just pass through them unchallenged (or those who face resistance) during days and nights. Thanks to the pandemic stay-at-home regime, these couple of trees, almost standing shoulder-to-shoulder to my balconies have become whole world to me. I used to start my day wishing a Good Morning to a particular Mango, since it was a flower till it fell off the branch and the monsoon stepped in. Loneliness creates strange adoptions.

Why I say this on a Sunday morning ?

I heard a longish and rather shrill bird sound that was unfamiliar; tried to explain it as some of the frequency variations the birds are capable of, for different scenes. In second thoughts, I rejected the theory as kites are very basic in their sounds and that genre could not have been any other. I forgot.

After 30 mins or so, I heard it again and I tried to look in the direction; no movement anywhere on the peepal. Then suddenly, as I could see the kite approaching the tree in its usual flight path, a rather large ash colored bird fluttered and hopped-flied back to a lower branch with more cover (that’s easy trick for all birds as the black kites ve large wingspan).

I was as astonished as I had never seen such a different bird, though from a distance and unclear, anywhere including my minor birding coincidences. It had longer tails ( almost just short of flycatcher’s) compared to resident birds. The beaks was slightly wider (like those skimmer water birds) or so I thought. Could it be a water bird who strayed here (sea is about 200 meters) ? It looked unlikely as I saw it trying to catch a small butterfly type fly-by. It was also hungrily trying to find insects underneath the leaves. I also saw it seemingly loosing grips on it perching branches once.

My immediate hunch form the movement of the bird and its hunger made me believe that it was a immigrant which landed after a long flight. It moved to farther end of the tree and then to another tree farther away. Apart from the kite, the crows did try to scare it away but they appeared restrained to go near the unfamiliar guest. In ten minutes, the bird flew away in a different motion than I ve seen.

Since then I ve been thinking of the bird. Tried to search the internet on avibase. I am pretty sure now, its not local. The closest (40%) look I could match any picture was a wood-shrike but not quite.

Like a pair of beautiful exotic eyes hunting a young man’s imagination long after the momentary flash of her face vanished in to a crowd - But that’s worth a good change over a depressed Saturday.

Thank you Birdie!!


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