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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Becoming a Birder!!!

Sunday the 25th of November is a day I will remember so fondly. Not simply because I got to continue to live out my birding fantasy and get to a new place to see many new birds and rekindle the romance with some of the ones that I have become familiar with. Not just because our whole family willingly awoke at 4:45 to catch the ride up to Nandi Hills – a birding hot spot about an hours drive north of Bangalore. Together with some of the finest birding company and just really cool people; Deepak, Deepa, Prashanth, Uma, we Amstii witnessed a gorgeous sunrise and stunning sunset as bookends to a full and gratifying day. And we did get the privilege of chasing several Asian Paradise Flycatchers of both genders and had pretty good views of them. But those gems of experience paled in comparison to the thrill of seeing our daughter Eliza, become a passionate birder that day.

I knew she was hopelessly hooked when faced with a surprise holiday yesterday, and of all the offerings of this area, she begged me to take her birding. Not shopping. Not out for a burger. Not even to her beloved horse riding school. She said, “Momma, can we go birding today? Pleeease!”

Now, I’d love to take some credit for igniting that spark in her, but really, I had nothing to do with it. None of us did. The real “magic wand,” the siren call, was from the incredible tail of the Asian Paradise Flycatcher himself! I saw the sparkle in her eye when we first began to chase him, hoping for a good look at those silky white feathers. Our friends hefted their giant lenses and took aim at his tail streamers waving in the autumn breeze as our bird effortlessly led us further and further into the forest. Beautiful bird for certain, but my eyes were glued to Eliza as she beamed with each clear sighting!

Finally at the end of the day, a perfect male Asian Paradise Flycatcher perched near enough that we all got to see. Many cameras aimed through the leaves attempting to capture the elusive being on film, and Eliza asked Paul if she might try to get a photograph. He chuckled as he told her that there was no way she would ever get the shot. Looking at the position of the bird in the tree and the dim light and everyone else’s photographic difficulties, I had to agree. Somehow Eliza did manage to convince Dad that she should at least try for the “impossible photo,” so he gave her the camera.

Holding so still and patiently waiting for the bird to hop onto the perfect branch, she snapped and snapped and snapped… and finally came away with a really great shot! Well, I think so. Take a look at that bird! Who wouldn’t get hooked on birding with a great sighting and a first ever “bird photo” like that! The sight of the glowing pride and joy on her little freckled face was the highlight of the day for me, her mom. My new birding companion is born! She is now saving her rupees for a camera and some good binoculars…beware of future lemonade sales!

Really it was a superb day for all of us! The morning was actually quite cold! Can you believe that my hands were numb as they tried to focus the binos and hold still enough to identify the tiny warblers! Prashanth was finding so many new birds to look at that we didn’t have time to complain or think about our temperature much! What a mad birder he is! How lucky we felt to be able to have his expertise to know every tiny avian speck and song by name as he tip-toed around the chilly forest all morning with us eagerly following watching for any movement in the trees all around. Uma and her beckoning smile aimed her eager camera often creating great opportunities for photo records while breaking only for onion puffs and raisin buns from our local bakery “Bun World” and a chance to play with the kids now and then. Deepak shared his adventures in just about everything there is from para-gliding to rock climbing and travel while birding and making sure none of us were too close to the cliff! Deepa, with her positive approach and amazing home made chocolate (the way to my heart…or what!!?), spotted birds and shared her playful spirit with all, making the kids feel so at home! These are the kind of days I will always treasure, along with the people that make them so.

-posted by KAREN!

1 comment:

suzgleason said...

Hi Karen and family

I jsut found your wonderful India blog site after John Sun sent it to me.

I lost your email address.... :(

It looks like you are having an unforgettable time in India. How long are you going to be there? I was thinking I might come over there and visit you...

The leg is fine now thanks again for all you did.

Love and hugs, suzanne