Bright sunlight brought a juvenile Himalayan rubythroat (Calliope pectoralis) out of hiding and atop a Lantana bush where it let loose a long set of chirps. Its feathers glowed in the morning sun, adding to the autumn brightness around us in the village of Dotiyal in Uttarakhand. Then it looked around at the cameras and preened. It was still too young to fear us. I wonder whether birds have personalities: some timid, some more prone to put themselves in danger. And if so, which survive long enough to breed.
Not very far away I’d seen a Himalayan bulbul (Pycnonotus leucogenys). They are common across the lower heights, and fill up the slopes briefly with their loud chatter. This one drew my attention to the glow of yellowed leaves, above it, the last of the autumn glory from this particular tree. Behind it were whole copses full of evergreens. It’s a lovely time in the hills.
A week before that I’d stopped at a bright orange glow as I walked through the post-monsoon forest on the Mahabaleshwar plateau in the Sahyadris. A closer look showed that the orange was a cluster of mushrooms growing on a tree. Reds and oranges are common colours for fungi, but I’d never seen this particular fungus before. I wish there were more mushroom enthusiasts: perhaps then a couple of field guides may be written. Without them I’m lost at trying to identify them.
Up in the Himalayas, as another day of bird watching came to an end, we stood at the edge of a road and looked across the meadows at the far ridge, where the sky seemed to catch fire. I’m a bit blasé about fiery skies, but The Family wanted me to catch this moment. This bit of autumn glow is for her.
The last glow of an autumn day came late, long after sunset. Entering dark woods without a light, listening for the call of Mountain Scops Owls (Otus spilocephalus). We were lucky that we didn’t have to crash through the dark woods for long. One called right next to where we parked. Its eyes glowed in the dark. This was a wonderfully lucky shot.