In search of bluebirds and fairies

The scariest part of a downward spiral is the speed at which things fall apart. You are always a bad decision away losing it all. One phone call. Just one unexpected turn to find yourself in a bottomless pit. But life doesn’t come crashing down. It caves in. Crumbles under the weight of despair. Then, like some injured lizard, you try to pick yourself up. But you feel helpless. Uncoordinated. So, you collapse to the ground. And you just lie there, with fistfuls of dirt, tonguing your cheeks and hoping that this too will pass.

Conversely, when something good happens – seldom does it snowball into something more tangible. There are no formulas to sustain an unexpected burst of happiness. It can be a one-hit wonder that leads to sophomore slumps. Often, it just slinks away on its chubby hindlimbs.

Rock Agma, Thattekad

Last week, I watched David Attenborough’s documentary on the Birds of Paradise. I felt a kindred connection with one of the field experts. A lady, who had spent weeks trying to document the mating ritual of the Blue Bird of Paradise. Despite the bad weather, she had persisted.

Finally, she saw the male bird dance while perched upside down. Caught between wonderment and gratitude, she turned around to whisper, “Wow, it’s our lucky day”. And I knew instantly how she had felt. The thrill of having been seduced by a stranger’s plumage.

The sum total of my adventures doth pale, like the face of an unfed vampire, to even one of hers. Still, I could relate to the moment she had shared with a fairy-like bluebird.

A couple of years ago, I had spotted a pair of the Asian Fairy Bluebirds along the Adukkum Road in the Kodaikanal hills. The male was singing his little heart out. The female flew around with bits of pinkish flowers in-between her beak. It took me a while to process the sighting. I could not fathom that I was in the midst of such dizzyingly-beautiful creatures. I had to calm myself down before clicking a few photographs of them.

Now, if I were to complain that I have seen them only twice since then, I deserve to spend the rest of my life inside a padded cell.

Because life can be unfair. Bad things happen all the time. None of us are entitled to happiness. Whether slighted or wronged, we must move on. We can kick and scream if we want to, and if it really helps. As long we find the confidence and strength to go in search of our own bluebirds.

“The world owes you nothing. It was here first”

something old
gives way to
something new,
suspect not – 
the mating rituals
of something blue.

(Photographs: Kodaikanal, Lower Palani & Valparai)

11 thoughts on “In search of bluebirds and fairies

Add yours

  1. Hey, we’ve got blue fairies around here as well. And though they might be blue they ain’t got the blues.

    Only the male Superb Fairy Wren is blue and he typically gets around with a harem of up to a dozen more dowdily coloured females. So he doesn’t have to dance upside down or sing his tiny heart out to get a bit of attention from the ladies. He don’t have to prove nothin’.

    At this time of year the underbrush around nearby Throsby Creek is full of these minuscule fluttering gems and you can get quite close without startling them. As you approach they usually start out by chirping avian abuse at you and only retreat if you get to within 3 metres.

    My camera packed it in a few months ago (while I was photographing the wildlife around Throsby Creek) so I can’t show you one of the locals until my budget can be stretched far enough to replace it. But in the meantime here’s a pic from a nearby twitcher who happens to be named Christie.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oops. I should have checked Wikipedia first. It turns out the Superb Fairy Wren is actually monogamous (albeit promiscuous). They are apparently also inclined to transvestitism. Many of the ‘females’ in the flock are really males in ‘non-breeding’ plumage (i.e. dressed like a girl). And sure enough, breeding males also invest a lot of time and energy into impressing potential mates. They prefer yellow flowers to pink ones.

      They’re fascinating birds and not really wrens at all (when the Brits invaded this country they set about naming everything after things they knew from home). Check out the entry.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Wow. Sorry to self-obsess, but Christie is a fitting bird for a name, yes? No, really. Ask Winnie. His friend Christopher is a Robin, apparently.

      Just saw a video of the Superb Fairy Wrens. Thank you for bringing them to me. They are such cherubs!

      And if you ever want to raise funds through kickstarter, you have a contribution from me just for a shot of the Superb one!


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