Posted in Nature, Painting

5-minute sketches

This January, I was at mom’s and had a bit of time at hand so I drew these 5-minute sketches (using the pictures I had taken during our visit to the zoo) to entertain my daughter while she practiced writing hindi alphabets.

Now, my daughter has started water colours this month and as a gesture of comraderie, I joined in the fun and made these.

Here is the only one where I took a bit of time, around 30 mins.

Back of a golden pheasant

My reintroduction to art is so much fun I am having a hard time stopping to live the real life.

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Posted in Nature

Tell Me I am Hallucinating!

Usually, I am a bit dreamy with a faraway look in my eyes. But today when I looked faraway in the sky, I believed I was hallucinating–I saw migrating Eagles.

Now, you’d say, “Come on! Eagles don’t migrate. They are territorial. It must have been another bird.” My thought, precisely.

But, they were eagles. I have observed Athena, our local Eagle who lives across the road on the water tower, for five years now. Lying down on the roof to soak up the sun, I’ve seen her do laps in the sky for hours. I can pick an Eagle out of hundreds of birds in one glance–the lazy demeanour of gliding, the wing span, the shape of wings that gradually becomes a black dot in the sky is imprinted on my memory.

So, I knew they were all Eagles. I quickly counted until seventy but it is a hot afternoon and the sun was in my eyes, and more kept coming. I am sure of a figure above 150. Now, if you remember, I wrote about seeing around 40+ Eagles last year a few days after Bakrid. I believe them to be same, stopping by for water from Yamuna river and may be an early morning snack, because I never saw such a huge group again.

But that looked different because those Eagles were flying low enough to pass next to my third-floor window. These were high up in the sky, all flying in the same direction, not in any specific formation like cranes but the lazy but haphazard movement of tourists out for sight-seeing.

The storyteller within me started jumping to exciting conclusions like Avian war, Biological warfare, Global warming and other stuff.

I ran down excitedly to relay the news to my mother-in-law. But she was unfazed. Apparently, she has seen Eagles flock across the skies too many times to care. So, finally, I had to do what I had to do.

I googled.

Apparently, I had witnessed the mass migration of the Steppe Eagle. Apparently, they often pass through India. And here I was close to the End of the World. 🤣🤣🤣

Author’s note: I’ve purposely delayed this post by several days to ensure I do not alert poachers. Apparently, Steppe eagles are captured to be kept as pets and their numbers are dwindling.

Posted in Nature

Returning Guests

After one month of bed rest, I started moving around a little and visited our roof. I was immediately rewarded by the welcome sight of four Green Pigeons, who I am sure, are raising the next generation in a nearby tree.

In the same tree, I also spotted a Great Indian Hornbill.

Both the birds are rather difficult to spot among the trees because of their plumage that comprises of different shades of green and grey. So, for all I know, they could have been here all year, but I am considering them as guests since it has been one long year since I saw them.

My daughter was absolutely delighted. But when I extended an invitation to visit us for lunch/dinner (I offer rice on all occasions), my three-year-old cautioned me about bird flu. (At least, one of us has some sense. 🤣) So, I quickly took back the invitation, which made us both sad, but with COVID 19 and bird flu, we have become rather less-hospitable. I hope they don’t take offence.

Posted in Nature

My Neighbours: The Squabblers

During lockdown, our neighbours have been knocking on our windows for various reasons. This series is dedicated to them.

A squabbling Babbler--his partner is just out of camera view.
A squabbling Babbler–his partner is just out of camera view.

Recently, we got a visit from the Jungle Babblers–not sure about their names, since they never got around to introduce themselves.

One of them just knocked on the window at 6 am and, then, hopped back on the tree to argue with another Babbler. Or may be, they were just talking…Babblers can be pretty loud about their views and a simple-minded person like me can easily misjudge it as an argument.

Anyway, when I reached the window to check who it is, both of them looked pretty peeved…but then, Jungle Babblers always look peeved.

So, I felt rather uninvited in this heated discussion, which could be about anything–a fight among neighbours for the best branch rights (it is time to build nests), a lover’s quarrel over who will change diapers once the babies are delivered (Read The Delivery Guy to find out more), or a discussion about the weather.

But it was intense, because discussions are always intense among Babblers.

So, I stood there sleepy-eyed and waiting for niceties and for someone to explain why they woke me up. May be, they wanted someone to mediate but all I could hear was a lot of swearing in Babbl-ish (they have some really obscene words, like ‘crockacrockacrow’ and ‘cruuuckkrrrrr’). So, after 5 minutes, I finally gave up, left them to settle the ‘argument’ themselves…if it was one, and went back to sleep.

I think they felt insulted, since they haven’t visited me again. But, for once, I am not sorry. I don’t want my baby to grow up learning such foul language. Would you?

Posted in Nature

My Neighbours: The Performers

Author’s note: More backyard news–A huge number of our neighbours have been knocking on our windows for various reasons. I have dedicated them a series.

My favourite Bulbul (Indian Nightingale) had been singing too many solos of late. I, as his dedicated fan, would stand at my window and watch him perform. But I was getting worried about his bachelor status and the desperation creeping up in his notes.

My star during his bachelor days
My star during his bachelor days

A few days back, I saw him take a quick bath in the famous birdbath across the street. A few minutes later, he was stalking another Bulbul from one tree to another. He would perch right next to her and she would fly away, then he would tail her closely. I wanted to tell him that it was creepy and rude, and a sure way to piss off girls, but well, what do I know of avian courtship rules? Anyway, it might not even be a girl…I mean, how would I know? There are no gender markers.

Yesterday, he knocked on my window in the afternoon–my star had brought a co-star along. He hopped back on the branch where she(?) was perched as I walked to my window with my camera. On the count of three, the rockstar couple started performing. They filled my room with Love-filled twittering for the next 9 minutes, while my husband sat with his headphones on, oblivious…

Their first duet inspired this poster. After lockdown ends, I’ll print it on T-Shirts and Coffee Mugs, and become a millionaire.

Star couple singing a duet
Star couple singing a duet

Posted in Nature

The Quiet Morning

At dawn, I rise

hoping for a quiet morning,

but…

A Myna in his best black coat

greets me with a knock

on my glass window.

Pigeons on the wires

with fluffed collars

murmur greetings.

A returning Bat

screeches Goodnight

as he swoops past the window.

On the tree next door,

a sleepy Owlet admonishes me

for sleeping all ‘day’.

Two Sparrows sit there

swapping the latest gossip.

A Parrot on the electric pole

squawks at the Crows

partying on the roof top

are loud enough

to raise the dead.

The Eagle on the water tower

is quiet though,

looking for breakfast amidst the row.

I quietly hum a tune to myself.

My mornings are quiet

but never silent…

Posted in Nature

My Neighbours: The Peeping Jane

The Lockdown has got us better acquainted to our neighbours. A huge number of them have been knocking on our windows for various reasons. I decided to dedicate them a series.

The Peeping Jane
The Peeping Jane

A group of Sunbirds live in the neighbourhood. So far, they had been avoiding photoshoot. But the sudden disappearance of human kind got a couple of females curious (much like dear Harry’s Aunt Petunia) and they decided to check if we were extinct yet. Their eyes became large with shock when they found a whole family of survivors in our quarters.

Male Sunbird last spring when the humans roamed the planet freely
Male Sunbird last spring when the humans roamed the planet freely

Posted in Nature

My Neighbours: The Delivery Guy

Authors note: I am trying a different genre now inspired by the Ellen’s Wonderfuss Faeries. You can visit her blog for a good laugh combined with Scottish mythology. I am fairly new at the genre though. Also, I am painting after 15 years. So, bear with me.

Bagula Saheb from his grumpy days

Meet Bagula Saheb, our resident delivery guy, He brought my daughter home three years back. For many years, he had been handling local deliveries on his own (Cranes usually manage the intercity stuff.)

But lately, he had been looking a little grumpy. I guess the constant work-related travel and the increasing pressure on his time was getting at him. I tried to talk to him but he just won’t stop, always crying “Busyyyyy! Busyyyyy!” Lately, the lockdown has locked the humans in their homes, and birds and animals have a free reign outdoors, more work seemed to be coming his way. So, I wasn’t surprised when I saw him approaching the higher-ups for help.

Bagula Saheb approaching the higher authorities
Bagula Saheb approaching the higher-ups

The result was heartening. He was instantly provided with a female colleague. Together, they were promised a brood of tiny apprentices to train in the coming months. Once ready, these apprentices will take most of the workload off his shoulders.

He seemed to be over the moon by the arrangement. I could hear him cackling with delight all night, earning him some very sleepy, grumpy and puffy-eyed neighbors. But well, who cares! Woohoo!