in our hearts
as eagerly as
it does in our eyes;
no man, woman or child
is an island, much
a bird sanctuary
I have seen the Nilgiri Flycatcher only in pairs; several times in different parts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Never though has the male or the female shown up solo to enthrall me.
The male always seems to first arrive, barring his fluffy indigo blue breast, violet hair gel and long tail-feathers with a smattering of pale-white. He suspiciously, but with élan, tilts his head sideways as if to say “what business do we have together for you to find it appropriate to disturb me during my meal, good sir?” As I arc the camera lens towards him, he quickly disappears behind prickly bushes.
Seconds later, his lover drops by, with a song in her breath and doubt in her shadowy eyes. Every time she sings “epp epp epp”, she looks more intently at me. And the mosaic of colours – grey and blue – in her plumage glistens in the sun’s spittle. She then gracefully looks away, angling her dark-brown beak, as if to wonder what force in this blue planet would make me leave her and the anxious lover in peace.
And I smile, trying to make sense of whatever brought them, and their love, to me.
Flycatchers, with a tinge of blue, have been my nemesis in bird identification. I always mix them up with each other. For instance, the Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher with the Blue-Throated Flycatcher. The Verditer Flycatcher with the White-Bellied Blue one. And the Nilgiri Flycatcher with the previous two. Due apologies if I got them confused again in these photographs.