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Wild Buzz

punjab Updated: Sep 08, 2013 13:02 IST
Vikram Jit Singh
Vikram Jit Singh
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

EHSAAS-E-KUDRAT

While the timeless brilliance of LV Beethoven, PI Tchaikovsky and Joseph Haydn's music has been somewhat obscured by the fire and smoke emitting from the politics of Zubin Mehta's concert in Srinagar, it may be recalled that Beethoven despised tyranny. His love for freedom was matched by his passion for nature, and this reflected in his compositions, particularly Symphony No. 6 in F Major 'Pastoral', which resonates with fondness for countryside rambles and musical notes inspired by brooks, birds and the rustle of falling leaves. Franz Schubert, a great admirer of Beethoven, composed the delightful 'Trout' quintet in 1819 for the piano, violin, viola, cello and double bass.

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The quintet had its origins in a poem written by political dissident, Christian Schubart. The poem, awash with allegory, describes how a cold-blooded angler hooks a merry trout by muddying the waters of a clear stream. WA Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 17 had close associations with the composer's pet European starling. Antonio Vivaldi's 'Four Seasons', Claude Debussy's 'Clair de Lune' that dwelt on moonlight and Frederic Chopin's 'Raindrops' prelude is sublime musical hymns that venerate nature's glories.

DRUNKS & MANEATERS

During the night of August 10, Kashmir Singh alighted from a bus. His home was a 100 metres down the hill at Lah Gala village in Himachal Pradesh's Mandi district. Kashmir was returning from a drinking binge. Down the forested slope, Kashmir squatted to answer nature's call. A maneater leopard pounced on Kashmir, as his crouched body appeared to represent a small prey. Hard-pressed to defend himself in an inebriated state, the leopard killed Kashmir and ate out his backside leaving a horrific scene with Kashmir's trousers at his knees and belt unbuckled. The death was the culmination of wandering drunkards exposing themselves to maneater attacks.



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A 'maneater' shot under the eye by Nawab. HT Photo

In fact, the two hunters appointed in phases by the government since July 26, Ashish Dasgupta and Nawab Shafath Ali Khan of Hyderabad, came across drunkards wandering precariously in the night. Drunkards were directed by hunters to get back home, and some even thrashed when they resisted wise counsel. Since the days of Jim Corbett, it has been believed -rightly or wrongly - that infirm leopards consuming bodies dumped after epidemics/floods or at cremation grounds acquire a taste for flesh and turn maneater. Add to this list, serfs of Bacchus.

A PASSAGE TO INDIA

In late August, the pastoral landscape wedged between the foothills and the tricity is graced by a lovely migrant. The European roller, which has two sub-species, breeds in Europe as also in West/Central Asia till Kashmir in summer. The sub-species that migrates to India (Coracias garrulus semenowi) breeds in Asia. Most rollers found behind the tricity in the post-monsoon season, when weather and wind direction change, are passage migrants.



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They fly deeper into India after a sojourn here, and their sightings are tracked by the Migrant Watch programme. However, a few rollers do stay put for the winter in the tricity's hinterland. Ripening crops provide an abundance of insects for rollers to relish. The roller has been declared a globally 'near-threatened' species. For example, thousands of rollers are shot every spring over Oman. Chandigarh Bird Club members believe the tricity gets large numbers of rollers once every four years. The roller in the accompanying picture was clicked on the Parol-Nagal road on September 2.

THE NIGHT'S WINK

Just a generation ago, the nights would coyly wink at you and slip by in city gardens. Fireflies (glow worms) were to slumbering flower beds what high-flying jet aircraft with twinkling tail-lights are to a backdrop of awakening stars. Most adults recall collecting fireflies in bottles as kids but these creatures are a rare sight now. I was delighted to recently discover a diaspora of fireflies at the Sukhna lake's regulator-end.



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They are best seen as lights around the lake dim after 8.30 pm. A keen observor can stand near the steps leading to the parking for the 'Garden of Silence' and see fireflies emerging from lonely shadows as mermaids from the seas. The bird walk here is also graced by many fireflies, a mystical spectacle that every iPad-obsessed kid must be encouraged to savour and thereby retrieve a lost chapter of nocturnal natural history. Some fireflies flit along the Sukhna walkway like flying beacons, enchanting visitors who brave mosquitoes and biting insects. Apart from pesticide harm, the millions of wattage of artificial power blinding city skylines affect fireflies. This overpowering light makes firefly flashes less evident, leading to breeding failure and disorientation as males rely on flashes to lure females.