Summer is coming

Summers are hot and humid in the plains of southern India. It’s a tough season. We sweat, like incompetent lawyers, the moment we step outside our front doors. We feel dehydrated every few minutes. The tar on the road angrily gleams, barbecuing the soles of our feet. Suddenly, the sun assumes that we are all direct descendants of Icarus.

It’s a brutal season for the birders too. Starting mid-April, it won’t be easy to find non-endemic birds. Many will be gone until November. But I am ready for the drouth. I just returned after spending a few days in the Anaimalai Hills. I can handle it. I have enough love in me to take over a small Polynesian Island. I swear that I can turn summer into mango-scented curd.

I had the privilege of spending time with Malabar Trogons and Great Indian Hornbills as they fed their young ones (more on that later this week). I watched Pompadour Green Pigeons flock together for a fruity feast. A darling damsel of a Scarlet Minivet showed up , daring to steal the yellow from the sun that was starting to blush in frightening colours.

A pair of Common Hoopoes stopped by too; not for a second did they take a break from practicing for the fun parts of Cirque Du Soleil.

I also spotted three of the four types of primates in this part of India. A Brown Mongoose as it stalked Red Spurfowls behind tall vines. A Bronze Grass Skink biting and tonguing its way through a plastic bag with its new prized possession – a bloody piece of chicken leg. A pair of young peacocks on the prowl for a world with no cameras. And finally, a herd of Indian Gaurs that cautioned me against loitering in the wilderness.

I came back with lots of memories. Plenty of stories. One or two epiphanies that may or may not have any impact on anything that happens to me in the present or the future. I also came back with the strength to wait for the summer to pass until I can go birding in the hills again.

The birds in south India aren’t fond of summers either. There isn’t enough water for them. They die of heat strokes. Their nests are charred by wildfires. We haven’t made it easy for them, with the wreckage we leave behind in the name of development.

Let’s be nice for a change.

Here are a few things you can do to make this season a little safer for them.

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird (1918)
by Wallace Stevens 

“Icicles filled the long window
With barbaric glass.
The shadow of the blackbird
Crossed it, to and fro.
The mood
Traced in the shadow
An indecipherable cause.”

(Photographs: Atakatty, Valparai, Korangumudi, Parambikulam)

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38 thoughts on “Summer is coming

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      1. Very true. You know just a few days back in my art classes , the kids and I spent 3 hours discussing bees, watching documentaries , and drawing them. To reconnect with you , through this particular post, feels good 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      1. There is no bird that comes to mind, as exotic and colorful. The ones i love here are magical in song, the mourning coos of doves and loons. The head-tapping funny birds seeking dinner. Oooh, they give house owners headaches. Then there are birds enormous in myth, like ravens and eagles. I much like the friendliness of chickadees snd tufted titmice. And then the spring Robin, promises of winter over, when spotted, brings good cheer!! Actually, perhaps the oriole and indigo bunting may just have a running with India’s birds. 😄🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶

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  1. Oh, I’ve missed your posts, Christy! Too long I’ve been gone. Your summer sounds frighteningly a lot like ours, and yes. I too am coming off a fantastic jaunt of birding getting ready for that dreadful month’s long heat (with four kids nipping as well). Enough love? For only an island? You deserve an archipelago! And where do you find these poetic treasures?

    PS – Either your photography skills are sharpening, or your subjects are starting to see you as their story-teller. Either way, that pigeon and eagle…I salivate.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awww I swear I thought your summers were a lot more pleasant. Don’t the cardinals bring ice cubes for breakfast or something? They certainly love you!

      And thank you so much, my dear friend, for the kind words. I hold them close to me, when I write.

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