Yet another World Sparrow Day is here…
‘Chirp for the sparrow, tweet for the sparrow’ was the theme of World Sparrow Day, 2012.
May their tribe increase!
Yet another World Sparrow Day is here…
‘Chirp for the sparrow, tweet for the sparrow’ was the theme of World Sparrow Day, 2012.
May their tribe increase!
Hello Petite February!
Please be Kind. Tread softly, smile bright and bring us blue skies, vibrant sunrises and crimson sunsets.
“Why what’s the matter,
That you have such a February face,
so full o frost, of storm and cloudiness?”
~ Much Ado About Nothing
We don’t want to see you as Shakespeare thinks of you! Be cheerful!
The black–hooded oriole (Oriolus xanthornus) or manjakkili as we call it in Malayalam is considered a harbinger of Onam, the harvest festival of Kerala. Generally a few of them are spotted in the months of July to September. Since the bird appears close to the festival, it is called Onakkili as well. With their striking bright and golden yellow plumage they are a sign of prosperity! Surprisingly during my visits in November-December in the past few years, I get glimpses of the bird at Anakkara. Times have changed, climate has changed and the migratory birds have changed their times too. Contradictory to the old concept, every day is an Onam, a day of bounty for Keralites. The bird knows it doesn’t have to wait for Onam to remind people that days of plenty are round the corner!
I could click a fairly decent photo of the bird sitting atop our mango tree this August; a satisfying experience compared to many of those failed attempts in the past. I haven’t seen a camera shy bird like the oriole! She is as fast as lightning and a trickster too. She charms you with her distinct call from secret hideouts and flashes her gold to lure you, then vanishes! Just like the golden deer Maricha that enchanted Sita, the golden bird is bewitching. Unlike other winged friends who visit our Kousthubham premises, Manjakkili has no scruples regarding punctuality!
How can I not share Emily Dickinson’s Oriole here! Who can give a more vivid and vibrant picture of the bird! I don’t know if you have to read between the lines or whether there are many different layers of meanings; to me the poet talks about the bird Oriole.
One of the ones that Midas touched,
Who failed to touch us all,
Was that confiding prodigal,
The blissful oriole.
It is no exaggeration that the bird is extravagantly touched by Midas! A proven prodigal, the dazzling bird can easily be mistaken for an alighting mine. And Emily aptly calls the Oriole the meteor of birds. Both the references of Jason and Midas perfectly blend in with the Oriole.
So drunk, he disavows it
With badinage divine;
So dazzling, we mistake him
For an alighting mine.
A pleader, a dissembler,
An epicure, a thief, —
Betimes an oratorio,
An ecstasy in chief;
The bird is called an epicure, a thief and a dissembler! What a trickster he is! He keeps your hopes afire and then hides in thick foliage, giving fiery glimpses only. It bewilders me when Emily blames the bird for cheating of ‘an entire attar’ (Does the bird stand for someone who came into her life like a flash of lightning and then left suddenly?) or is it ‘altar’ instead of ‘attar’ as the church imagery is obvious- ‘Jesuit of orchards’ and ‘oratorio’- Doubtlessly the bird has a divine aura.
He cheats as he enchants
Of an entire attar
For his decamping wants.
Like a regal and pompous court musician, he comes sings and leaves the scene. I am convinced of his decamping wants from my experience too!
The splendor of a Burmah,
The meteor of birds,
Departing like a pageant
Of ballads and of bards.
I never thought that Jason sought
For any golden fleece;
But then I am a rural man,
With thoughts that make for peace.
But if there were a Jason,
Tradition suffer me
Behold his lost emolument
Upon the apple-tree.
I wanted to tell Emily that Jason could look for his golden fleece on our mango tree as well. Somehow I draw parallels between the apple trees of Emily and other American poets with our mango trees. Whether it is ‘when a drop fell on the apple tree’ or Frost’s ‘After Apple-picking’ I tend to make comparisons..
During my recent trip to Wayanad, a hill station in Kerala I met this cousin of the black hooded oriole, sitting on the bamboo plant like an orange torch ablaze! could it be the the Baltimore Oriole? My excitement made the capture out of focus and shaky.
A couple of photos clicked a few years ago. Seen in the second picture is the black-naped oriole that visits Anakkara sometimes.
Concluding with another beautiful Oriole song from Emily which states a larger truth. It is not the music, but the fashion of the ear that attires the music. Whether the music you hear is divine or common is left to your choice. The divine music is not from the tree but it is within you.
To hear an Oriole sing
May be a common thing —
Or only a divine.
It is not of the Bird
Who sings the same, unheard,
As unto Crowd —
The Fashion of the Ear
Attireth that it hear
In Dun, or fair —
So whether it be Rune,
Or whether it be none
Is of within.
The “Tune is in the Tree —”
The Skeptic — showeth me —
“No Sir! In Thee!”
Let us look forward to many tuneful and divine melodies as September dawns. May the music change colours from dun to fair as we listen! Unheard music may be sweeter!
“Indulge your imagination in every possible flight.”~ Jane Austen
‘Give a loose to your fancy…’ and I did. With apologies to the immortal Jane Austen whose 241st birthday was celebrated yesterday, here’s an (distorted) adaptation, a pastiche of Chapter Three of Emma, the characters being replaced by my feathered friends. The green paddy fields in front of our home in Anakkara is home for many birds and small creatures like small crabs, frogs, mongoose and so on. Great Egrets, snake birds and Pond herons are permanent residents here. During October November many migratory birds visit these fields. The lapwings, Red and Yellow Wattled are regular visitors every year and so are the Asian open hornbills and Woolly necked storks. All these birds in unison enjoy the green paddy fields.
”Pastiche is a literary piece that imitates another famous literary work of another writer. Unlike parody, its purpose is not to mock but to honor the literary piece it imitates. This literary device is generally employed to imitate a piece of literary work light-heartedly but in a respectful manner. The term pastiche also applies to a literary work that is a wide mixture of items such as themes, concepts and characters imitated from different literary works.
Pastiche may be comic in its content but it does not mock the original works. In pastiche, the writers imitate the style and content of a literary piece to highlight their work as the original piece is accepted by the vast majority of readers and are landmarks of their age. So, imitation in such works celebrates the works of the great writers of the past.” ~Literary Devices
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Mr Great Egret is fond of society in his own way. He likes very much to have his friends come and see him frequently; every year during October-November his friends visit him; and from various united causes, and from his long residence at the Greenfields of Anakkara , and his good nature, from his fortune, his house, and his daughter, he could command the visits of his own little circle, in a great measure, as he liked. He had not much intercourse with any families beyond that circle . His beautiful daughter Emma White Egret, who is a well known ballerina in the elite circles, has her own charming ways of entertaining the distinguished guests.
The lord of the Greenfields
Beautiful Ms Egret
Real long standing regard brought the Yellow Wattled Lapwings to the elegancies and society of Mr Egret’s plush green living room of Greenfields. Mr Yellow Wattled is a man of serious disposition almost past everything but soft shell crabs and quadrille. Mrs Yellow Wattled has never boasted either beauty or cleverness. Her youth had passed without distinction, and her middle of life was devoted to the care of her husband whom she religiously accompanied on his annual visits to Anakkara. Those who underestimate the silence of this doleful faced woman are startled once they hear her shrill voice and calls and singing at the most unexpected times. Greenfields echoes with her singing even at midnights!
Mrs and Mr Yellow Wattled Lapwings
They wear this ‘world is too much with us’ expression
After these came a second set; among the most come-at-able were Mrs and Mr Red Wattled Lapwings. They are a happy couple whom no one mentioned without a good will. It was their own universal good will and contented temper which worked wonders. Their presence is much appreciated by the offsprings of The Dragonflies next door and the children are all around them cheerfully dancing in their crisp red and black outfits. If you take a close look at the picture, you would see them.
Red Wattled Lapwings
Mr. Woodhouse was fond of society in his own way. He liked very much to have his friends come and see him; and from various united causes, from his long residence at Hartfield, and his good nature, from his fortune, his house, and his daughter, he could command the visits of his own little circle, in a great measure, as he liked. He had not much intercourse with any families beyond that circle ….
Real, long-standing regard brought the Westons and Mr. Knightley; and by Mr. Elton, a young man living alone without liking it, the privilege of exchanging any vacant evening of his own blank solitude for the elegancies and society of Mr. Woodhouse’s drawing-room and the smiles of his lovely daughter, was in no danger of being thrown away.
After these came a second set; among the most come-at-able of whom were Mrs. and Miss Bates and Mrs. Goddard, three ladies almost always at the service of an invitation from Hartfield, and who were fetched and carried home so often that Mr. Woodhouse thought it no hardship for either James or the horses. Had it taken place only once a year, it would have been a grievance.
Miss Bates stood in the very worst predicament in the world for having much of the public favour; and she had no intellectual superiority to make atonement to herself, or frighten those who might hate her, into outward respect. She had never boasted either beauty or cleverness. Her youth had passed without distinction, and her middle of life was devoted to the care of a failing mother, and the endeavour to make a small income go as far as possible. And yet she was a happy woman, and a woman whom no one named without good-will. It was her own universal good-will and contented temper which worked such wonders. She loved every body, was interested in every body’s happiness, quick-sighted to every body’s merits; thought herself a most fortunate creature, and surrounded with blessings in such an excellent mother and so many good neighbours and friends, and a home that wanted for nothing. The simplicity and cheerfulness of her nature, her contented and grateful spirit, were a recommendation to every body and a mine of felicity to herself. She was a great talker upon little matters, which exactly suited Mr. Woodhouse, full of trivial communications and harmless gossip.
Mrs. Goddard was the mistress of a School— she had an ample house and garden, gave the children plenty of wholesome food, let them run about a great deal in the summer, and in winter dressed their chilblains with her own hands …She was a plain, motherly kind of woman, who had worked hard in her youth, and now thought herself entitled to the occasional holiday of a tea-visit; and having formerly owed much to Mr. Woodhouse’s kindness, felt his particular claim on her to leave her neat parlour, hung round with fancy-work whenever she could, and win or lose a few sixpences by his fireside.
These were the ladies whom Emma found herself very frequently able to collect; and happy was she, for her father’s sake, in the power; though, as far as she was herself concerned, it was no remedy for the absence of Mrs. Weston. She was delighted to see her father look comfortable, and very much pleased with herself for contriving things so well;
”Such, such are the joys… on the echoing green”
Green bee-eaters basking in the evening sun, a milk white egret in the backdrop
Echoing Silence and Green
Anakkara was brimming and echoing with green this November! There seems to have a drastic change in the usual pattern and terrain of our little village over the last few years. A troop of thick overgrown bushes, fox-tail grass and wild creepers with small flowers joined together and invaded both the sides of our narrow asphalt village road. Another new usurper is the White Feather grass, which we used to consider a native of Palghat ! These foreigners too have taken over patches of uncultivated paddy fields and happily camped on Anakkara soil. The motto of our Anakkara has now become ‘Go wild and green’.
In spite of all these, Anakkara is still enchanting with her lush green luxury.
creepers and climbers growing wild on the roadsides
Apart from the commonly seen white egrets, pond herons, Asian Open bills, cormorants some new visitors are coming to Anakkara nowadays. I could spot the Red wattled lapwings in the paddy fields right in front of our home this November. It is a joy to relish the beauty of these fields in the mornings and evenings, with all these winged friends foraging there.
Asian open bill
Red wattled Lapwing, a new visitor!
Fly like a swan!
snow white egrets in a playful mood
The paddy fields in front of home
The magical charm is not diminished a bit despite the growth of these weeds and bushes. Anakkara is still a beautiful land!
My Phnom Penh mornings are chirp-filled, tweet-filled and music-filled. The musical treat starts at the crack of dawn! The everyday musicale takes place outside my bedroom window, on the Longan tree and the Golden Showers tree. Each one of the choristers tries to excel and outshine the other, yet in perfect harmony! Another interesting fact is that all the choir members are generally very punctual. They entertain me with solo performances, duets and chorus singing!
The early birds are the Pied Fantails (Rhipidura javanica). They are up by 5:30-6 am. Their song starts off like a soft musical conversation that turns into a mellifluous high pitched one. The longan tree is their favourite haunt. These madcap little souls can never sit still. They flit from branch to branch, cock their heads, turn from one side to another, display their beautiful fan-like long tails time and again! I’m not surprised they are nicknamed, the Crazy Thrush.
Pied Fantails- my heart warmers!
I could never click a picture of the hyperactive fantails with their tails spread out. Today’s been my lucky day when one of them posed for me, for a split of a second. To me this was as good a sight as a peacock displaying his plumage and dancing! There’s something called telepathy between Man and birds, no doubt!
My hyperactive little friend
The tailor bird, the common tailorbird(Orthotomus sutorius) comes by seven am to the Golden shower tree;she does her usual round of loud ringing ‘chit-chit’ flitting from bough to bough. And she’s always in such a hurry as she has to go round and circle the house, visit every tree chirruping all the time. It is indeed a tough task for her tiny wings, nevertheless she religiously does that. After the golden shower it’s the bamboo tree, then the rose apple tree in that order. Have I told you about her cousin, the little acrobat, who used to sit and knock at a window of mine every morning for two long months? Later, I shall.
The tiny tailor bird
The tailorbird on the bamboo
After she leaves, comes the Scarlet-backed flowerpecker (Dicaeum cruentatum) with his shrill rattle-like,chime-like call. Unlike the tiny tailor bird, he is never in a hurry. Being so conscious about his looks ( he’s a real dandy, eh), he cleans his onyx-coral plumes, combs them, makes them shine, spends sometime sun bathing and then flies to the next tree. He never forgets to pay a visit to our pomegranate shrub.
The scarlet-backed flower pecker
Emily Dickinson has beautifully sketched a bird that came down the walk and the lines perfectly suit my little friend, (though he seems to be unafraid most of the time).
He glanced with rapid eyes
That hurried all abroad —
They looked like frightened Beads, I thought,
He stirred his Velvet Head. —
The sparrows and Bulbuls, not to mention, are omnipresent; this is their home. Our house is home for numberless house sparrows (Passer domesticus). The mango tree and the rose apple tree are homes for the Yellow-vented bulbuls (Pycnonotus goiavier). When we first came to this house in 2012, there were only two bulbuls and it was the first time I was seeing the yellow-vented bulbuls. The sparrows are the noisiest of the bunch, yet lovable pranksters. They are tireless talkers, as well. In my ‘Saga of A Curry Leaf Plant’, I have bragged about their mischiefs in detail. They are my constant companions. May their tribe increase!
House sparrows, the impish ones
Don’t you think that the bulbuls have that regal air about them?
The bulbuls are a graceful lot. They always have that grave, aristocratic air about them. Their singing is very pleasing and have that bubbly flowing quality. At times they make those shrill alarming calls too. It was such a joy to see the bulbuls’ tribe increasing! Their’s is a big family now…
The robins, the Oriental magpie-robins (Copsychus saularis) bless my days with richly cadenced raptures! Heavenly music, indeed! They are experts at whistling too! I have heard that they are good at mimicking. Soon after heavy rains, when the air is still dark and gloomy, his melodious music flows from nowhere, lifting your wet spirits! I have dedicated a page for these divine singers in my ‘The Robin is the one…’
Is this one Ms Dickinson’s own robin who sings among the ‘astonished boughs’?
The Plaintive cuckoo (Cacomantis merulinus) makes its yearly visit by mid November… Her plaintive notes fill our Bassac garden and it can make your moods a bit melancholic, nostalgic and sombre. Ah! this soprano is one of its kind! It’s not easy to get a closer look of her; she hardly comes and perches on the trees around. Looking upwards at the blue skies, sitting on my neighbours’ television antennae, she sings. She has that melancholic look about her. Red eyed, ( is there some untold grief that troubles her and makes her shed a lot of tears?) alone and aloof she is. She can sense my movement behind the curtain and off she flies
The Plaintive cuckoo, determined to throw some plaintive notes
Look at her mournful eye!
It was a surprise yesterday! She came and perched on the Pomelo tree at my backyard, busily eating her breakfast! Today morning I was even more surprised to see a juvenile sitting on the same tree. I’m glad that her woes did not stop the plaintive cuckoo from starting a family.
He did not know I saw
He bit an Angle Worm in halves
And ate the fellow,raw- Emily Dickinson
The baby plaintive cuckoo
Recently two zebra doves have come and among the thick green foliage of the mango tree, they too found room for a nest. Their soft ‘vrrr vrrr’ staccato cooing also fills my days now. The two new additions to their family have started socialising. They come and sit on the Golden shower tree, next to the pied fantails and sparrows.
‘ My sister, now our morning meal is done,/Come forth and feel the sun’-Wordsworth
Their mother is a blue-eyed beauty!
These little winged souls make my days brighter and cheerful. The amazing fact that I have noticed is that on some days all the birds would be present on the same tree at the same time, yet they never crossed each other’s branch! There’s something called Avian etiquette, don’t you think so?
They started singing from February and have never stopped ever since!
Am talking about the oriental magpie robins. They make my days, days of joy..singing incessantly. I have never come across such a musical treat from birds. They keep changing their tunes.They sit on the roof tops, my neighbour’s TV antenna, among the mango tree foliage, rose apple tree, on the compound wall, the frangipani boughs. After coming to Cambodia often I wonder if Emily Dickinson would have ever visited this place!! Many of her lines on Nature and the flora and fauna melt so well with the sights and sounds around me!
The Robin is the One That interrupt the Morn With hurried—few—express Reports When March is scarcely on—
The Robin is the One
That overflow the Noon
With her cherubic quantity—
An April but begun—
Oriental Magpie Robin singing
”write me how many notes there be in the new robin’s ecstasy Among the astonished boughs”
It’s interesting see their gimmicks during courting time. The male stoops and hops and moves fast towards his lady love to woo her. There’s always a rival in the background. This drama usually takes place on the roof tops of the houses across our lane.
He stoops to conquer 🙂
Shelley’s and Keats’ Skylark and Nightingale come alive when I hear these small birds singing sweetly.
It’s a full throated singing at times and at times a mix of cooing-cajoling-coaxing..sometimes they whisper without knowing that their too musical voice is carried by the jealous winds to the nearby eaves droppers. These happy souls fill my dull and dreary afternoons with sound of music.
Bless you my feathered friends! May your tribe increase!