Monday, March 20, 2017

Meeting the Treepies for the first time!



It was a quiet afternoon in the Delhi Autumn. The Sun was not yellow hot but was sharp enough to make the day balmy. And perhaps just that tad bit warmer because the trees were mostly disrobed.

The air was still. There was not even the light swaying of the thin branches on top of the Neem trees, which normally would move at the slightest nudge of the wind. The October breeze, it seemed, was enjoying a quick siesta.

The surroundings, this Saturday afternoon, were so starkly silent that you could hear even a leaf fall. Strangely, there were no pigeons roosting on the Sunshade at this hour. No parrot, or two, sat on the barren, unclad branch of the Frangipani tree on the neighbour's terrace.

The resident Peacock and the bevy of peahens strained one long neck to look around and finding nothing of major interest sat themselves down on the giant Neem tree, nuzzled their faces into their hind feathers and collected themselves for a shuteye.

And in this stage of stillness and silence, I witnessed another drama unfurl. I had left the bedroom window open to keep the stuffiness out and allow the pleasing scent of the Rangoon Creeper float in.

As is the case on good days, I was at my workstation thinking up a clever idea to flesh out into a business article. The chain of thoughts was broken by a sudden surge of shrill, squeaky noise from the adjoining garden. The avian sound was unfamiliar. It was constant and seemed to be in some sort of an angry monologue.

I got up to move in the direction of the sound and peered out my bedroom window beyond the green iron grills and at an angle to the slanting Banana tree. There, perched on the low-hung branch of the medium height bottle brush tree with its red flowers, were two birds engaged in a serious confabulation. They were definitely a couple, it was decidedly a heated exchange and most certainly one-sided.

A few minutes of eavesdropping and it became clear to me that one party was quite displeased with the other. But it must have been something grave for the erring partner to bring such fury upon themselves. The heckled, cantankerous mate made no bones about letting their umbrage amply known with high pitched, scathing, scolding, shrieky bird sound, accentuated with angry eyes and a severe silhouette that towered over the meek one.

To my stereotypes-strung mind, it appeared that the silently suffering partner was a male who had stepped on the wrong side of his visibly infuriated partner and was now showing a semblance of wisdom by being quiet and letting the scorching winds of wrath blow over. The sagacious soul suffered the scourge with steely resilience till the vexed bird seemed to quiet down.

The interesting scene played out before me for the better part of the hour; depicting how similar we all are, regardless of our habitats and outward physicality.

And this is how I made my first acquaintance with the Rufous Treepies. These striking birds are known to have a wide repertoire of bird sounds ranging from squawks to musical notes. But this pre-winter day it stayed on the clear notes of a harsh call!

Note 1 – Incident happened on 17th September 2016
Note 2 – This piece was penned on 19.3.17


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