03 December, 2020

Chasing Bee-Eaters

Chasing Bee-Eaters
THE wintering Siberian cranes—all two of them—had long since gone from the marshes of the Bharatpur bird sanctuary. The other migratory birds had similarly fled from the advancing Indian summer. The guides were continually apologising for the low water levels this year which, they said, had severely hit the numbers of birds on view.All the same, my long weekend at Bharatpur was a magical experience. Touring the sanctuary by boat and cycle rickshaw, we spotted two species of stork, three of heron, two of ibis, two of kingfisher, and a wealth of cranes, egrets, snake birds, bee-eaters, harriers, eagles, owls, spoonbills, wagtails and woodpeckers, as well as geese and ducks in profusion. Coming from a country where love of birds is in inverse proportion to the range of species—and where seeing a harrier or kingfisher is about as common as winning the national lottery—it was a rare and delightful treat.

Even my wife, Anuradha, who is incapable of distinguishing a bulbul from a mynah and regards my fascination with the hoopoes who scour for worms near our Delhi home...



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