As I begin to write this, my mind wanders in several directions. One, the wonderful writing of "ixedoc", Dr Arunachalam Kumar, each of whose vignettes I look forward to reading.
Another: the increasing difficulty of going birding or "naturing" in terms of the hassle it is to drive back home.
Yet another: The increasing difficulty of access to our wildlife areas.
But I will not digress (the digress being the female of the diger) and will write about one area, off Kanakapura Road, where the wilderness of the Bannerghatta scrub jungle awaits us,and where access is relatively easy.
The Valley, as the area where the Valley School is situated, is a place where the forest leads the nature lover into both open grassland and shaded woods.And recently, bird sightings there have been of the unusual variety. My friend Chandu sighted an Ultramarine Flycatcher when he took the children of Aarohi School there for the HSBC Bird Race (in the space of two visits, we were able to sight a Racket-tailed Drongo, and on Sunday (5th Feb 2017) we were able to sight a Brown Wood Owl (Yogesh Badri's photo of it is
...he quickly followed the bird as it flew, and got the shot)
Tickell's Blue Flycatcher
All these "unusuals" lead to a lot of interest in a birding destination....but the true value of a birding "hotspot" lies,for avid birders, not only in the unusual, but also the usual.(MBK made this very valid point when spoke on the occasion of the 2016 Bird Race.)
What would one see,if one went, say, in the middle of summer? Would we be looking at the butterflies instead, or would we still see enough birds to hold our interest, and make an enjoyable morning of our outing? We may be more used to the burbling call of the Joker-cheek-patch Red-whiskered Bulbul, or the trill of the Small Green Bee-eaters, but they are no less beautiful than the rarely-sighted birds. Watching a Tailorbird bringing in nesting
material, or enjoying the way a Brahminy Kite soars and dips along the wind currents is as appealing as the sudden and unexpected thrill of a "rare" sighting...and on the days when the latter does not happen, the "usual" is what keeps us going back for more (the English word, not the Hindi one, though "mor" is also a bird frequently found at the Valley).
As the winter mornings warm up, the thought of the long trudge back through the path where there are only the two banyan trees to give shade until we come back to the School main gate...
may be daunting,but it's the "usual gang of suspects" that take us through to the bamboo thicket and beyond.
Here's a happy White-cheeked Barbet, secure in its nest, smiling at us!