CARELESS WHISPERS

Green Bee Eater . Merops orientalis

These chestnut headed bee eaters were busy whispering amongst themselves . See how the male has cocked his head so as to pay more  attention to the lady.

The tree has shed all its leaves  in this  dry deciduous forest .

what honey
                                                                            what honey

A  Safari Jeep and the driver are captured in the frame  repeatedly showing how close they were to these birds.

But the birds pay scant attention to them  and are busy whispering amongst themeselve on this relatively low perch.

the leafless tree
                                                         the leafless tree

The green bee eaters feed primarily on insects as you could probably guess from their name.

closer look
                                                             closer look

They have a tell-tale flight patterns and a unique way of spreading their wings like little fans.

It is hard to tell the male from the female in this species as their plummage is virtually identical .

However when perched together the larger male is clearly discernible.

out on a limb
                                                out on a limb
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GOLDEN BLOSSOMS

LANTANA. (Lantana camara) 

Watch these little pockets of joy evolve into gorgeous golden blossoms.

baby
baby

Transforming from green to  ecru and then finally  yellow

middle stage
middle stage

Covered with yellow blossoms, the butterflies love it too.

in full bloom

They have traveled a long way from their native Mexico.

DUST UNTO DUST

The Enchanting Forests reveal the inevitable for all living beings , whether big or small.

Death is part of a never ending cycle of transformation from one form to another.

The air of life has been sucked out and it collapses on itself.The fish slowly  transforms into sand.

The fish turns into sand
                                                       The fish turns into sand

Mighty trees are felled by one stroke of lightning and the stump is all that remains.Soon even the stump will turn to dust.

All that remains of a Mighty  tree which once  kissed the skies. You cannot even recognize what it was once called? An Oak, the mighty Banyan or the fruit bearing Mango ?

one stroke of lighting
                                       Even the mighty are felled

As the past turns into skeletons and then finally dust,  new shoots sprout and Life begins afresh.

life begins afresh
                                                                          life begins afresh

The endless cycle of Life and Death turns yet again.

A 1000 YEAR OLD PENTHOUSE

The Qutab Minar ( Minar is a tower in Hindi)  is the symbol Of New Delhi and marks the Rise and Fall of dynasties and empires over 11 centuries.

As I was arching my neck and attempting to frame ( photographers will get it)  the magnificent Qutab Minar , the corners of my eyes detect  specks of green on this  gateway to the Iron Pillar ( 2nd Century BC) .

The Qutab Minar
The Qutab Minar seen through the Gateway

On a closer look , the specks of green turn into parakeets adorning the beautiful stone carvings.

The family
The family    of    Parakeets

Am overawed and pleasantly surprised, they are none other than   Alexandrine Parakeets.  Psittacula eupatria.

The red shoulder patch reveals the identity of the largest bird in the family of  Parakeets .

The male is distinctively  identified by its  red nape and black ring around the neck .

This couple had found a gorgeous 1100 year old Penthouse .

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Settling in their Penthouse

An alert female member of the Alexandrine parakeet looks at all from the rooftop perch  of the Penthouse.

Do notice the black ring and red nape are absent. It is also distinctively smaller than the male.

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The distinctive red shoulder patch

I understand from Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexandrine_parakeet) that this native  Parakeet gets its name from the great Greek Emperor Alexander the Great.

This elderly  and very cross looking   lady member of the family of Alexandrines inhabiting the Qutab Minar complex paces up and down the carved ledge.

She seems to be upset with the incessant  cacophony of squeaking and squawking  created by the youngsters in the family.

on the ledge

Suddenly she turns a full 90 degrees  and peers  right into the eye of the camera.

Who are you talking to ?
Who are you taking pictures of  ?

This plump lady on the contrary loves the camera and poses in front the ancient stone flowers,

It seems to be a foodie, has dipped into the cookie jar too, check out the tell tale remnants around the large red beak.

The distinctive yellow tipped red beaks are a unique characteristic of this beautiful and very talkative Parakeet.

Reading the scriptures
Reading the scriptures Am I

Do watch out for the red patch on the shoulder to identify the Alexandrine Parakeet.

Apparently they were taken from North West India to Europe in 326 BC by the Emperor Alexander.

The Iron or Ashok Pillar standing witness  in the courtyard of the Penthouse also dates back to  the same period  over 2000 years ago.

I loved the history lesson taught by the Alexandrine Parakeets. Did you too?

A DATE WITH THE SUN

A forest is a world of  magical splendour.

Nature can fire your imagination as the forests often Eclipse even the Mighty Sun.

The trees stretch out their arms and  turn themselves  into shades of black .

The lakes, mountains and the golden grasslands transform into shades of black as well.

A cloak of darkness creeps upon this Enchanting Forest.

sun date and lake
                                                   The date palm tree attempts to date the Sun

Within seconds the sun is eclipsed and a halo forms around the Crown of the Palm Tree.

The forest plunges into darkness and all turns BLACK.

The sun eclipsed by the Date palm tree
                                                The sun eclipsed by the Date Palm Tree

Other trees struggle to reach  out to the Sun and numbers seem to be on their side.

sun and palm
                                                             A tussle for the sun ensues

The bigger denser trees seem to be stronger and the tussle seems to be going their way as the others recede.

the halo
                                                                                               The Halo 

The Sun has however chosen  the Palm Tree and balance is gradually  restored.

Enchanted
                                                                        Order is restored 

Notice the glint in the eye of the Palm tree.

The forest will change colour once again.

OGLING IN THE FOREST

Whenever I see the THICK KNEE am reminded of the fairy tale RED RIDING HOOD and her remarks “what big eyes you have grandmother”. ( authors are permitted to spice up the story by giving the originals  a little twist  )

A  nocturnal  bird it prefers to hang around bushes , shrubs and trees during the day.

Thick Knee, Indian Stone Curlew, Burhinus indicus ( scientific) 

This one was spotted Ogling at the lake under a TREE.

framed
                                                                                         framed

A combination of large goggle eyes and the above mentioned habit of hanging around gives the appearance of this bird OGLING.

A resident bird to the dry deciduous forests of India it can be spotted even in the stunted forests of Delhi. I did see one in Asola Forest Reserve in New Delhi.

The little knot around the knee give it another uncomplimentary name, THICK KNEE.

goggle eyes
                                                             Goggle eyes

Sleeping or preening itself , Goggle eyes also has a large characteristic beak.

It is also called Indian Stone Curlew because of the characteristic wailing sound associated with Curlews.

Almost all pictures in  books and sources on the net show the plumage as brown or shades thereof.

However the pictures I have taken near a lake in Rajasthan show up the THICK KNEE more greyish or STONE coloured.

Asleep
                                                                            Asleep

The THICK knee or Stone Curlew  finds a place in many stories,  poems and even a movie.

Similar birds can be Spotted in Europe ( Eurasian Stone Curlew) and Africa as well.

PINNOCHIO IN INDIA

It is wonderful to visit wetlands and water bodies during the winters in India. Immigrant birds mingle with the resident birds enhancing  the visual delight of all wetlands.

Numerous species of birds migrate to the more comfortable and sunny climate of the Indian subcontinent. In terms of temperature, winters in most parts of Northern India are like European Summers.

Thus while many in Europe and North America moan about the end of summers, In India winters is time to sunbathe and  celebrate. The Tiger parks  also reopen their doors in October.

The birds recognize this and leave their cold and inhospitable homes in the North and flock to the warmer climate of the South.

Pinnochio follows  this annual routine as well. What else could I christen this rare and elegant GODWIT.

Jangral ( Hindi) , Black tailed Godwit ( english) ,   limosa limosa ( scientific) 

A rust coloured neck  indicates it has adorned it’s breeding plumage.

Reflections
Reflections

The extra long bills help the Godwit ( my Pinnochio) probe for food in the mud. They also have long and elegant legs to wade deep into the water.

This particular bird was caught with it’s mouth wide open.

The feathers of its tail are black ( see the picture below)  and therefore named BLACK TAILED GODWIT.

breakfast
Time for breakfast

Observe the difference in  colour around the neck when compared to  the GODWIT in the first photograph.

The awesome nose ( sorry bill) of Pinnochio ( Godwit) looks even longer in the picture.

Unfortunately the numbers of this gracious bird are fast dwindling and it is now classified as NEAR THREATENED by the IUCN.

pinnochio
Pinnochio and it’s reflection

Picture were taken in South East Rajasthan.