Gold and feathers

Sunset on Bhigwan’s lake was a quiet time. Fishermen and farmers were on the way home from work. Herdsmen had brought their cattle to water for a last time in the day. Distant sounds of traffic had quietened. We’d heard calls of birds all day. That was completely gone as the light turned to gold. This was a good time for bird photography on the water. An Indian pond heron (Ardeola grayii) stopped looking for fish as soon as I’d clicked the featured photo and stalked to the hollow of the trunk and laid its head on its shoulder, preparing to sleep.

We’d been on open water most of the afternoon. Now, as we drifted close to the shore, I started noticing a completely different set of birds. There was a common redshank (Tringa totanus), its mottled and streaky feathers quite distinctive. I didn’t want the Black-winged stilt (Himantopus himantopus) in the photo, but the boat was drifting slowly and there was no quick way of getting it out of the way, except by changing focus.

There were reeds near the shore. I’d seen Garganeys (Spatula querquedula) all day, dabbling in the open waters. The white streaks on the head are quite distinctive. But none had come close enough for a photo. I took one now through the reeds. Behind it were Grey-headed swamphen (Porphyrio poliocephalus, formerly known as the Indian subspecies of Purple swamphens). I would get photos of them later.

At this time of the day, the colour of the water depends very strongly on which direction you look at. As I turned my gaze westwards I saw a Grey heron (Ardea cinerea) seated atop a mooring post sunk into the water. Behind it you can see one of the small villages dotted along the edge of the lake.

And finally, looking due west, on a sea of gold, a Brown-headed gull (Chroicocephalus brunnicephalus) had stopped its incessant daily flights, patrolling the water to keep it free of fish. Now it rested gently in the shallows. Later it would paddle closer to the shore and go to sleep on a sandbank. It was time for us to turn back too.

Science da kamaal! Posts appear automatically while I travel off net.

Simple pleasures

ducks

Mumbai does not give you the simple pleasure of standing by a pool in a park and watching geese swim by. Delhi does. On this count I score Delhi ten on a scale of one to ten. Work brought me to Delhi, but in the evening before I dived into a series of meetings, I followed the locals into a lovely garden in the middle of town: the Lodhi garden. The sun was about to set when I walked through this crowded park and came to the pond full of geese. Some of them stood about in the shallows and honked; others glided through deeper waters, submerging occasionally and coming up looking satisfied for no visible reason.

purplemoorhen

In the middle of these large white birds I saw a small dark thing swimming rapidly by. Was it a duck? No. When I looked at it the purple colour was clear. A lone purple moorhen glided past the cacophany of geese. I stood by the pond as the sun went down, enjoying these utterly commonplace sights in the company of the hordes of Delhi.