Wildbuzz| Nature answers a prayer from the heart
A family of three had planned a trip to Dehradun to click pictures of a migratory bird. Their plan got foiled due to the Covid-19 lockdown, but to their surprise, they spotted the bird outside their Mohali houseUpdated: May 24, 2020 16:20 IST
You seek the bird, the bird seeks you. No finer an evidence of this birding adage could be imagined than what presented itself to a bird-loving household of Mohali. Shruti Sunny and her husband, Sandeep Singh, along with their son, Sahir, aged a mere 3.5 years, had planned a trip to Dehradun for photographing birds. High on their priority list was the migratory Indian Blue robin that flies back to the Himalayas after spending winter in peninsular India. The couple had received information that the robin comes to Dehradun around the middle of April and spends a few days before mounting an ascent to higher altitudes for the nesting season.
However, their trip got cancelled due to the Covid-19 lockdown, as was the case with other tricity birders who had planned similar excursions for early summer. One fine day, cooped up in their Mohali house, Sandeep noticed a wary bird skirting around their garden patch. They initially thought it was a Grey bushchat or an Indian pitta but a photograph revealed it to be none other than the migratory robin! The God of Nature had answered their prayers and dispatched the robin to their doorstep!
To lend perspective to the robin’s rarity and the sheer coincidence of it landing in a bird-lovers’ garden, Shruti’s photograph is the first such record of this species from the tricity and only the second record from the broader Inter-State Capital Region (ISCR), encompassing a region falling within a 40 km radius from Chandigarh. The first photographic record of this robin from the ISCR was from Chakki Modh by Kuldip Jaswal on May 7, 2018.
Luck and perseverance have brought Shruti, a homemaker, rich birding dividends. In just three years of bird photography, she has bagged two new species for the ISCR (Brown bullfinch and Collared owlet) along with the first robin photograph for the tricity. The total number of bird species recorded in Chandigarh currently stands close to 450 though the updated checklist of the Chandigarh Bird Club is at 432 as it has yet to include some authentic records such as those registered by Shruti.
RAIDER OF THE NECTAR TRAIN
As the weather warms up, our garden has bloomed with orange tubular flowers very rich in nectar. The resident Purple sunbird family spends most of its time sipping nectar from this particular flower and the fledglings are brought straight to this flowering vine upon leaving the nest. A host of insect species slip up and down the welcoming aisles of the soft orange petals to sip the sweetness of a ripe summer. But there are hunters, too, lurking in the proverbial shadows of exquisite beauty and natural harmony.
A Crab spider (family: Thomisidae) prowls around the entrance to the tubular flowers and monitors the steady stream of nectar lovers. I was able to capture on camera the spider preying upon a Hover fly. While devouring the fly, the spider would kick out with its legs in irritation when ants streaming down the tube of petals to the nectar disturbed the hunter’s task and heckled the predator.
The sweetest moment came after the spider had fully ingested the fly. Having possibly let out a satisfied burp, the spider turned attention to its larger surroundings and realised that a suspicious-looking object (the camera) was hovering close by! So, the spider promptly slipped out of the tube of petals and hid behind the fold of a petal opening outwards. From there, the spider kept a watch on the camera by peering from behind the petal like a little boy just having managed to stand on his toes and look over the boundary wall of an orchard brimming with beckoning mangoes and litchis. The eyes reflected the lure but mirrored, too, the hesitation and dangers of slipping over the wall to the forbidden fruits.