Two Little Cormorants sit on what appears to be a submerged light pole in a reservoir in a Coorg coffee plantation. Coffee offers much more support for biodiversity than its more homogenous counterpart, tea, largely due to its requirement of shade trees and sometimes mixing with other crops, such as pepper. Unfortunately, those self-same trees are often invasives, like silver oak, and in due course another ecological problem is introduced.
I’m usually immensely uncomfortable photographing people, usually because I feel overly self-conscious. From the back, however, the problem disappears – no figure is visible, no face to identify with, and instead I can focus on composing the image properly, though usually not well. This coffee plantation worker was heading home after a long day in Coorg, Karantaka.
Note: this post is scheduled.
On our recent trip to Coorg, we stopped at a place known as Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary on the way back. Which was amazing. We saw so many new birds that even now I’ve not gotten over it.
This bird in particular was the first one I’ve seen in its genus. It’s the Indian River Tern, otherwise known as 40 centimetres of pure awesome.
It’s found only in freshwater – i.e., rivers – unlike most terns of its genus. So it’s an outlier. It breeds in sandbanks in rivers. Being pretty lazy, it scrapes a small hollow in the ground and lays its eggs, rather than going for the full nest-hog most birds trouble with. Outlier and efficient.
Plus, it also looks like something out of a Mickey Mouse cartoon. What’s not to love?
But there’s a but. Here, it’s the fact pollution is driving it out of its habitat and that it’s currently listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List. The population in India forms the majority of its worldwide range, which is estimated at 50,000-100,000 individuals.
This bird is just one of those 50 to a 100 thousand individuals. But hopefully it will charm the hearts of birdwatchers for many years to come.
Recently the Singapore birding community had a series of heart attacks when a migrant Crested Serpent Eagle arrived in the Japanese Gardens. I, at the time, was not present to see it – I was in the coffee estates of Coorg, a district in Karnataka. From afar, I thumbed my nose at them: here, these majestic eagles were the most common raptor in the area (other than, of course, the ubiquitious Black Kite), and a common sight from the balcony of the villa we were staying in.
My mother spotted this particular raptor during a drive through the estates. At first we were content just observing, but then it started screaming.
That’s not an understatement. It literally started screaming. Who, or what, it was calling to, none of us had any idea. Perhaps a mate. Or more likely it was simply proclaiming its presence to the Western Ghats, and unwary tourists: yes, I am here, the mighty serpent eagle. Fear me.
Then, in a dramatic flash of wings worthy of any Marvel superhero, it flew away.
Who says birds don’t have style? 😛