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Wildbuzz: Nagar ke khaas mehmaan

The Black bittern and Sirkeer malkoha are two birds that range across the Sukhna lake jungles but are difficult to discern.

punjab Updated: Aug 18, 2018 22:10 IST
Vikram Jit Singh
Vikram Jit Singh
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Wildbuzz,Black bittern,Sirkeer malkoha
A Black bittern. (Gur Simrat Singh )

The Black bittern and Sirkeer malkoha are two birds that range across the Sukhna lake jungles but are difficult to discern. The earthy brown and rufous-coloured malkoha skulks in the bushes and may even be mistaken for a mongoose scurrying along agrarian hedges! The bittern is a Greta Garbo-like recluse from humanity’s intrusive glare and prefers to indulge in cloak-and-dagger stuff in wetland shore vegetation. The bittern’s ability to hide and strike like a stilled assassin is remarkable.

It was, therefore, a moment of joy for wildlife photographer Gur Simrat Singh to chance upon a bittern out in the open at the City Forests/Nagar Van on Independence Day, the green background and bittern colours evocative of nature unfurling the Tricolour. Complementing the colours was the bittern’s black-and-white neck stripes, which invited imaginative comparison to the Chakra!

However, the Jungle owlet, a very rare denizen of the Nagar Van, has gone missing. A lone owlet was first observed by wildlife photographer Rick Toor in June and July 2018 near the public toilets but an intensive search in August 2018 did not unearth the lone specimen. A loss for birders because this species has been observed in the City Beautiful on very, very few occasions. An authentic record that preceded Toor’s find came from Navtej Singh, who clicked a lone owlet at the Dr PN Mehra Botanical Gardens (PU) in July 2014. Otherwise, this owlet species is more frequently observed in Morni, Thapli and Chakki Mod.

Freedom’s silent, saintly sentinels

Lalithamba Avadhanam is an award-winning botanist and former lecturer from Nellore (Andhra Pradesh). Her sensitive observations of nature take flight in heart-felt verses. She penned a poem of many, many layers titled, Indian Tree, and paid tributes to the many diverse warriors who safeguarded freedom and marched the nation to her tryst with the 72nd Independence Day:

This charming tree with tiny white flowers,

Orange fruits is gorgeous like the Majestic Tricolours,

Many enjoy the comforts it gives abusing tiny problems,

But none afford to lose the tree in spite of discomforts,

But many have forgotten the souls who protect this tree,

By their relentless creative works to make it pest free,

Fighting with enemies in zero-green harsh climate,

Not for the flower or fruit, but for the highly prized,

Everlasting divine aroma of the heart wood.

The enticing unique fragrance of Independence!

Let us nurture the tree for future generations,

Enjoying the benefits and fighting discomforts!

JAI HIND! JAI HIND! JAI HIND! JAI HIND! JAI HIND!

Add another flavour to Lalithamba’s ode, the passion for trees as felt in this extract from Lata Bhasin’s verses titled, Save Trees, Forests & Our Environment: I hugged a tree today, It whispered to me. ‘I can feel the warmth of your cheek, The touch of your gentle hands, That caress and seek, My beating heart, For we beat as one in this hour of our contentment.’

vjswild1@gmail.com

First Published: Aug 18, 2018 22:09 IST