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Wildbuzz | From dating a bird to the Whatsapp monster

“Where lies beauty and where lies ugliness are not matters poles apart. Appreciation or dread may lie entirely in the beholder’s eye. Humans may look upon muddy, filthy waters with a disapproving eye but the lotus spurts heartily from such nutrient-rich habitats.”

punjab Updated: Jun 04, 2017 23:19 IST
Vikram Jit Singh
Vikram Jit Singh
Hindustan Times
A Pied cuckoo in the Thappli jungles on June 1.(JATINDER VIJH)

The ‘rain bird’, celebrated in Indian folklore as the harbinger of the monsoons, has arrived in the tricity after a long migration from Africa! One specimen of this summer migrant to India, the Pied or Jacobin’s cuckoo, was observed at the Sukhna Lake Nature Trail on June 1, 2017, by this writer while a pair was spotted at the Thappli forests near Chandimandir on the same date by the Manimajra-based former HMT Joint General Manager and bird photographer, Jatinder Vijh.

Last year, the first sighting of the cuckoo for the tricity region was May 30, 2016, at the lake’s ‘Bird Walk’ by this writer. The earliest recorded summer sighting of the cuckoo for the tricity region was May 23, 2009, by this writer at the 16th hole of the Shivalik Golf Club (SEPTA), Chandimandir.

This was the year the National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore, launched an innovative citizen science programme, Migrant Watch (MW), of nation-wide surveys to study arrivals of these cuckoos and other avian migrants. The cuckoo, which is a weak flier, adeptly utilises monsoon winds blowing from the Horn of Africa to migrate 1,500-2,000km to the Indian coastline. The cuckoos then fly deeper into India and cunningly lay eggs in nests of Turdoides babblers, which incubate the eggs and bring up the cuckoo chicks like doting, unsuspecting foster parents.

The Common bronzeback tree snake in the bathroom of a bungalow in Sector 9, Chandigarh. (WHATSAPP)

The Whatsapp monster

A thin, very long-looking snake on a washroom floor has caught the imagination of WhatsApp users in Chandigarh. The image, which originated from a Sector 9 posh bungalow, first circulated on a WhatsApp group of domestic helps and then into the WhatsApp circles of the masters and mistresses of the domestic helps, and further, across the tricity. Naturally, it led to an excitement tinged with fear in varied WhatsApp groups. After all, the frenzied imagination does wander into that realm of possibility wherein the serpent emerges from a hiding place behind the toilet commode or within the folds of the commode just as an unsuspecting user was engaged in answering nature’s call!

Well, had the person a less-than-stout heart, arrest of the cardiac muscles would have been a real possibility even if the snake had not bitten him/her. On the other hand, had the snake bitten nastily at the worst or most tender spot, and the person possessed a strong heart, no calamity would have befallen the human. This is because the snake in the WhatsApp image is a non-venomous species. Snake expert, Vivek R Sharma, identified it as the ‘Common bronzeback tree snake’ (Dendrelaphis tristis), which can grow up to 5 feet. Sharma’s comments make it clear that the Whatsapp snake is not a 10-foot long monster as some excited viewers reckoned. This species lives in tree holes and can slither into homes/apartments through adjacent open windows.

Common kingfishers on lotuses at Ranganathittu bird sanctuary, Karnataka. (NAGENDRA BHAT MATTIGHATTA)

Beauty or beast

Where lies beauty and where lies ugliness are not matters poles apart. Appreciation or dread may lie entirely in the beholder’s eye. Humans may look upon muddy, filthy waters with a disapproving eye but the lotus spurts heartily from such nutrient-rich habitats.

If a sparkling blue Common kingfisher perches or sways gently on a lotus bud cupped in pink while scanning the waters below for fish, the scene will exert a magical influence on the human eye. But for the fish flitting in the waters, the sight of the kingfisher on lotus will incite fear and loathing of a horrible monster lurking above and armed with a spear, not a so-called bill.

A dragon that needs to gulp fish blood to give the feathers a peacock blue. Something akin to this may be felt by victims of Daesh (Islamic State) jehaadis, as they look up for the last time, and the bigot’s cleaver hovers above, lusting for a plunge into a juicy neck!

Wildlife photographers do not bother about such layers of perception and for them, a lotus and kingfisher is a dream come true. Nagendra Bhat Mattighatta clicked some of the most iconic images of the lotus-kingfisher at the Ranganathittu bird sanctuary, Karnataka.

Nagendra secured his award-winning images, which are the envy of peers, after much labour and application of technique and patience. The images need no further recommendation as they speak more than a 1,000 words.

vjswild1@gmail.com

First Published: Jun 04, 2017 13:51 IST