Following a flycatcher to paradise: Part 1

I have obsessed over spotting the Asian Paradise Flycatcher for years. She is one of those birds who looks as extravagant as her name might suggest. That’s not the case with let’s say the Streaked Fantail Warbler. Her name may suggest that she looks like Captain Planet’s arch-nemesis. In reality – she resembles a house sparrow wearing a shawl, just having a bad hair day.

The Asian Paradise Flycatcher looks like an Asian Paradise Flycatcher. She sounds like one too.

Two summers ago, a year after I had started birding, I was with a friend of mine near Ponneri town (on the way to Pulicat Lake). We were off to a good start, having spotted a White-Eyed Buzzard at first light. The sun came out early that day though, forcing us to soon seek shelter.

White-Eyed Buzzard
White-Eyed Buzzard

As we were trying to find shade, we saw a damsel fluttering past a palm tree, in a bright orange uniform. She had a glossy crested head and a black-and-rufous plumage. Either we had seen the Asian Paradise Flycatcher or it was drizzling orange daylilies and we had caught the friskiest drop.

Asian Paradise Flycatcher – Female

But it was a little anticlimactic. Although beauty is subjective, it can be agreed upon that in the animal kingdom – males look more attractive than the females. Hence every time I had imagined being in close proximity to this shy passerine bird, I pictured the male, with his long tail feathers dipped in ivory and silk; his velveteen crown.

Still, we giggled like school children when we recognized the bird as a gorgeous juvenile female.

In our eagerness, we followed her every time she flew further away from us. Eventually, we either annoyed or scared her to the point that she never came back. My friend felt more bummed out than I did. Only a week prior he had shared a connection with a Pied Kingfisher. And he felt as though he had ruined it by disturbing this beauty’s morning rituals.

Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Vedanthangal

A few months later, I spotted a female again at the Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary. And then another while inside the Theosophical Society premises in Chennai. It has been almost a year since the last time. And I have revisited these places at least  a hundred times. I am yet to spot the male.

I am sorry, my beautiful orange juice box with wings, please tell the men in your extended family to forgive me too.

I had written this post many months ago. And since then, my love affair with the Asian Paradise Flycatcher has grown and continues to move me in ways I cannot fully understand. You can read about it below.

Following a flyctacher to paradise: Part 2



46 thoughts on “Following a flycatcher to paradise: Part 1

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      1. Daffy is presently pondering if the wildlife will be attracted or put off by the orange t shirt and decides to chuck it in favour of more subdued hues!!!! I don’t want the elephants running away from me 😊😊😊

        Liked by 1 person

      1. I had a 6 month elective on photography in journalism college in which we are taught to photograph people and purposefully arranged inanimate objects. But i forgot all about it. A year ago I was using an iPhone to shoot too. Even now it’s just a nikon coolpix which is fancy talk for wannabe camera. But i don’t want to be a photographer and watermark my stuff. Just birding, moss-staring and fruit-eating please. Click away comrade!


      2. Woah that is so cool (y) I had a photography elective in college but I chose Print Media which was the other option and so didn’t get to learn photography.. Ohh right. But have you thought about getting into wildlife photography? Haha thanks 🙂 So far the only thing that’s decent is my selfie-taking abilities 😛

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    1. I am in a bus, on my way back from the hills and I doubt if I grinned wider while there than I did just now. Thank you heaps and loads, Shannon. I find your birding and passion for conservation unbridled, pure and unmatched. Did I tell you how much I missed your updates? I ve set aside time tomorrow for just that. Tea check. Oatmeal biscuits check. Shannon and greater family check!


      1. Ha! Tea and biscuits with a blog read. That sounds divine. I hope your trip to the hills was spiritual and fulfilling (and that the birdies all cooperated with your field lens and/or camera). 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It wasn’t unfortunately that sort of trip, did have the honour of getting a bright young fellow interested in nature and photography and the utterly deliciously delight of spotting a Scarlet Minivet (i shall post soon, real angel this one) so yeah goodie good good!


      3. Ooo! Just looked him up. Your minivet is an American Redstart who might have gotten a bit carried away with the red body paint. What a delicious bird indeed. Looking forward to seeing him at VerseHerder.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. “Either we had seen the Asian Paradise Flycatcher or it was drizzling orange daylilies and we had caught the friskiest drop.”

    The first I saw one, alighting on a branch of a coffee tree/shrub at my house (NO, I izzz no planter or even close to having a green thumb 😛 ) I was mesmerized, and have been ever since. As you say, she’s a shy, demure gal, and quite unaware of her beauty 🙂
    I love love love the way you describe them bird friends 🙂 repeat mode 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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