We often want to put a positive spin on the mistakes we make. How if it wasn’t for our blunders over the years, we probably wouldn’t be here today. We don’t realize that we might have been happier if we hadn’t screwed up. We could have been astronauts. Spotted more birds. Spent less time fretting over our stupid problems. Learnt how to finger-paint. We are so obsessed about learning from our missteps that we don’t stop ourselves from taking them.
I almost made a huge mistake last Sunday. I considered skipping a long-awaited birding trail along State Highway 49 (East Coast road). It wasn’t even for a noble reason. There were no kittens to be rescued. I was just lazy.
I lounged for a while before better sense prevailed. Despite the overcast conditions, I scrammed out the front door. And it turned to be the first successful birding experience I had in over a month. A first-time birder was accompanying me too.
The weather weighed heavily on my mind. There were hesitant drizzles. I was worried because it had been literally raining down on my recent birding parades. But the sun soon started to shine bright. And the usual suspects, barring a few, along the Kelambakkam-Mahabalipuram stretch came out to say hello.
We spotted Black Drongos, Red-Vented Bulbuls, Spotted Doves, Common Babblers, Rufous Treepies, Grey Francolins, Purple Sunbirds, Golden Orioles, Pied Bushchats, Green Bee-Eaters and Ashy Woodswallows. We even stopped to stare at the water-birds in the adjoining ponds and lakes. There were Pond / Grey Herons, Cattle / Common Egrets, Grey Pelicans, Painted Storks and Spot-Billed Ducks.
It was like a community gathering that everyone was invited to. We felt like the only ones who arrived on time. Towards the end of the morning, a familiar face, one with startled eyes, showed up. We caught a Spotted Owlet peeking out of a tree-hole.
She looked uncomfortable with our presence in close quarters. I clicked a few photographs to her chagrin. She squirmed, instructing me to put the camera away. After a while, we just stared at her, admiring her feathery breasts and powerful talons. She stepped out a little further. It was as though she had sensed the ecstasy that escaped my lungs as I heaved a sigh of relief.
I told myself that “everything will be owl alright”.
takes off her
damp sweatshirts, and
sneezes smidgens of
golden-brown egg yolk
over the fields below.
(Photographs: East Coast Road, Old Mahabalipuram Road)