My digs in Hyderabad are next to a large vacant lot full of shrubs. Since I moved here in early November, I’ve witnessed the metamorphosing of the grounds from green to brown as the relentless sun wears down the foliage. The frequent bush fires lit by the local residents on one end of the lot – yes it is a basti – keeps puzzling me. Not sure why they are lit and how they keep the fires so contained. The whole field could catch fire, but miraculously it doesn’t. Burning helps to rejuvenate the soil and the shrubs, maybe?
No wonder then, wouldn’t you agree, that the birds that I’ve spotted in the grounds include species such as ashy prinia or ashy woodswallow, natives of the region. Or “endemics” as the Indians call them. There are so many and I don’t even have a field guide to check…
The other morning I woke up to some mighty cooing and cuckooing on my back porch. Afraid to open the door off my bedroom to the balcony, I waited until I saw a black silhoutte fly off. It was Vijaya the cleaning lady who in her earthbound wisdom spotted the nest above the generator unit for my A/C in the bedroom….thorny twigs had fallen from the nest onto the floor of the balcony.
A lovely well built nest is perched high on top of the generator in a tight corner. Have been cautious about going out there in case the chicks have hatched and are falling off the nest…Once by pure chance I saw the mother fly off in her speckled beauty…lead me to the Net and that’s how I found my new neighbour is an Asian koel. Of course, my driver had mentioned “coella” right away in Hindi when I first tried to imitate the sound of the bird, so I’d better trust this local to know his birds!
Now, isn’t it amazing that I live on the side of the Hitech City with traffic on the main drag that’s loud enough to keep my ears ringing for days on end, and yet I step off it a few hundred feet and witness birds taking over the large vacant field, which thankfully rests next to my back porch. When the monsoon rains arrive, that field will burst into colour and life that’ll bring even more birds to keep me company.
Hallelujah! Mother Nature just refuses to give in and fights back!