Black-Winged Stilts are some of the longest-legged waders in the stilt and avocet family. It does not sound like a big deal until you see them. Then, you realize that you may have a foot fetish to deal with, at a later date. Or something which is as uncomplicated and beautiful.
Every movement is a dance move waiting to happen. I bet they do it all the time when nobody is watching them. Just dance. During lazy afternoons, treading far from urban kerfuffle, they waltz their hearts out. At nights – with fireflies for neighbors, they move to the sound of water kneading through tiny rocks.
Black-Winged Stilts are found in thick marshes, shallow lakes, and large ponds. Some of them are long-distance travelers as they migrate every winter. Probably, in search of the nicest dance-floors all over the world.
With long pinkish legs that stretch in strange directions. Pencil-thin beaks that can precariously hold onto water droplets. Its black-and-white plumage, so fluffy that it looks as though a Persian kitten lunged at a bird to eat it, but became too lazy to swallow 60% of the body.
These stilts just look unearthly. And they linger in the mind long after they are gone.
I have spotted them hundreds of times in the outskirts of my city. Wading through shallow water. On the way to their nests. Hunting for aquatic insects and small crustaceans. Or fighting with other water-birds, given how territorial they are. And the thing about being haunted is that no matter how you feel whenever it happens, you always look back at it – with a heavy heart.
Now that I think about it, how I wish I can spend more time to see what else they can do with their legs, and their beaks.
How I ache today for their dance moves to haunt me all through this summer.
Her silken beak,
penciling fresh blood trails
and her legs – draped
in technicolor dreams,
(Photographs – Pallikarnai, Ponneri, Pulicat)