In the mighty jungle, the Lion-tailed Macaque is awake

An enema procedure for a kidney stone operation once taught me two valuable lessons. One is that I should drink more water on a daily basis. The other is that I should stop making New Year resolutions. After spending three days at the hospital, I was overcome with trepidation and boredom. Lying face down on a polished-white table, I was eyeing the tepid sloths that were the hands of a wall clock. And I was ruing the dietary habits and stress coping mechanisms that had put me in that situation.

It occurred to me then that it was a familiar feeling. It was how I used to feel while coming up with New Year resolutions.


Towards the end of every year, I would realize that I was bored, unchallenged and stifled. It would frighten me because it presented itself as a recurring pattern. I would lie face down on the bed, burying my head in the pillow, wondering when things will ever change. A panic attack later, I would start making meaningless promises to myself. When February arrives though, I could care less. A slightly-crooked toenail would grab my attention than any effort I had to make around dealing with them.

Maybe it was never a big deal – this inability of mine to live up to resolutions. But I decided, that day, to stop a taking pseudo-preemptive and oddly-sycophantic route to self-improvement.

Also, back then, I enjoyed spending the last night of the year with friends. These days, I try and sleep by 11:00 PM to avoid listening to fireworks, and responding to text messages out of courtesy. And I always do something that makes me happy before and after the 31st of December.


Last weekend, given how infrequent my birding trails have been, I took an extra day-off from work and stayed in Valparai.

I was treated to a grand buffet of creatures, from Barking Deer, Indian Gaurs, Elephants and Stripe-Necked Mongooses to Great Indian Hornbills, Flame-Throated Bulbuls, Asian Fairy Bluebirds, Asian Paradise Flycatchers and Black-Lored Tits. I wasn’t able to photograph them all, but I do have stories, or at least folk song lyrics, for each one.

A creature that had me spellbound was the Lion-Tailed Macaque. From its silver-white mane and his puffy tail to his dagger-like teeth and authoritative body postures, he certainly lives up to the name. I have some history with this magnificent beast. He inspired me to grow my sideburns that have been an icebreaker in every social scenario I have been in ever since.

It thrilled me to bits that I got to see him towards the end of the year. Sometime in January, I hope to visit the Thattekad Bird Sanctuary. That would be a great start to 2016, just as much this trip to Valparai was for 2015.

By the time, April or March drifts in, it will register in my sizable head that I failed once again to disregard my insecurity about fresh beginnings. In trying to stop thinking about New Year resolutions, I ended up – not only thinking a lot more about them but actively making plans to ensure proper execution.

That is, however, my silly battle to wage.

You, my beautiful readers, have a wonderful start to 2016. Happy new year!

Lion-Tailed Macaque, Valparai

To beg, borrow and steal
from Charles Dickens,
2015 was the best of times 
and it was the worst.
Perhaps  2016 will be the same,
but I shall recollect, with love,
and by no other name, how
even the fiercest winds never
once frightened away the birds.

From last year’s post – 2014 is a number

(Photographs: Valparai)

30 thoughts on “In the mighty jungle, the Lion-tailed Macaque is awake

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  1. The clicks are amazing ..m speechless..the birds are sucha beauty and the pic of the sky with sunrays truly awesome…not a biguh fan of the macaque but yet he does look nice..😊👍

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve never spent any New Year’s Eve celebrating. I used to think this was because I had to be home no later than 9.30 PM and my parents were the early to bed kind of people. But then, I went to bed early even when I lived by myself 😀
    The usual disillusionment (‘it’s just another day, it is only a big deal because you made it so’) is somehow more pronounced on the 31st of December every year.
    That said, New Year wishes to you Birdman! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good point, anu (big smile)! The existential difference towards it does conveniently kick in late in the year. Whereas all through the year, we (at least, I) place significance on preparing for new beginnings.

      A very berry new year to you too, nanba!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow! That’s fantastic – but could you avoid showing it to people? I know hornbills seem a treasure for which excitement needs to shared, but studies have shown that more people watching nest lead to higher rates of nest predation and abandonment. Researchers are already quite concerned about the number of people watching the Varutupurai nest; actually that’s what the research I was helping with is studying.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I ve only pointed them out to one person so far. To the rest, my standard response is “korangu dhaan anna”.

      The V-estate nesting tree is under threat for sure, I’ve seen two separate feeding sessions interrupted by people. The best thing to do is to call the local conservationists (the angrier ones) when we see idiot photographers get too close.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. They are very handsome creatures and now I realize why you decided to keep those sideburns. They look good on you C. Have a lovely year – more birding, more creatures, wrestling for you in the coming year – with or without resolutions.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Happy New Year, my dear friend from afar. You and I have both had an extraordinary year for birds, but yours has been greater than mine as it pertains to the non-feathered, two-legged types. I hope to remedy that in 2016. Thinking of you today. And now…I’m off on our first adventure of the year — birds AND people. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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