birders, Delhi’s Deer Park, VIP Siberian cranes, Naukuchiatal
I will always remember the primary time I noticed gray hornbills aeons in the past: over sullen gray skies in the Borivali National Park (now known as Sanjay Gandhi National Park). (Source: Ranjit Lal)

The pleasure of birders on recognizing a selected species for the very first time is unparalleled. With eyes shining and delight bursting, they exclaim, “I had a lifer today”, or “It was a lifer for me”. For the longest time, I couldn’t for the lifetime of me fathom what all of the fuss was about. I imply, in some unspecified time in the future in their lives, even a crow or mynah would have been a lifer — seen for the very first time. So, right here, I’ve carried out a little bit of jugaad with the time period and outline it as a hen that you simply see possibly (however not essentially) for the primary time, however which has made a long-lasting, life-changing affect on you.

Then I recalled a few of my very own “lifers”. Here are the primary 10 that got here to thoughts virtually instantly:

No.1 is the little coppersmith barbet. The first hen I noticed by means of model new, large and highly effective binoculars — and it was solely accountable for my getting in birds. The fellow regarded like a tubby little clown with hiccups and that simply blew me away.

I will always remember the primary time I noticed gray hornbills aeons in the past: over sullen gray skies in the Borivali National Park (now known as Sanjay Gandhi National Park) — squealing as they flew excessive up throughout the sky. They regarded as if they’d simply left Jurassic Park. Or, for that matter, their bigger, extra glamorous, cousins — Great pied hornbills. Tramping by means of a streambed in Kalagarh (close to Corbett), we all of the sudden heard this rasping, whooshing, sound. Up there, in the clear blue, have been six-seven enormous black-and-white birds with colossal yellow beaks flying in tandem throughout the clear blue sky, their wings making the rasping sound.

Say “paradise flycatcher” and a birder’s eyes will start to glint: “Where? When? Will it be there now?” are questions that might be shot out like machine-gun bullets. The first time I noticed a full grown milk-white-and-glossy-black male, with its glamorous 18-inch streamer tail, was on the Sultanpur National Park in Haryana. But I keep in mind higher the flycatchers, that made me run round in a tea backyard in Palampur, teasingly whistling at me from one finish to the opposite. The nesting pair in Naukuchiatal was extra accommodating besides that I needed to stand knee-deep in the lodge’s rubbish dump to get view of them flitting from side to side the gully close by. (To compensate, one really flew almost right down to my ft to grab up a bluebottle I had missed and left me fumbling with my outgunned bazooka telephoto.) To my delight, years in the past, I noticed these pretty birds on the Northern Ridge, a five-minute drive from my home. Needless so as to add, they’ve lengthy vanished. Often, I marvel: Are they actually glamour kings or merely upmarket bulbuls with an excessive amount of gel in their crests?

Of course, there have been rarities: the spotlight of the common Bharatpur (the Keoladeo National Park) visits was the darshan of VIP Siberian cranes. Then they stopped coming, which was a primary indication of their sluggish extinction — even when it was simply “local” to our space. The gloriously uppity Great Indian bustards in the Karera Sanctuary (Madhya Pradesh) have been one other unforgettable sighting. The sheer disdain with which they flounced away from our howling, jolting jeep and took to their wings was a lesson in being put in your house. Now, not solely does the sanctuary not exist anymore however these magnificent muscular birds are crashing to complete extinction.

Another memorable “lifer” was the spangled drongo seen in Delhi’s Deer Park. All morning, I teased the keen group that had dragged me there on their failure to identify the hen. Just after they have been about to surrender, all of the sudden the hen known as. I’ve by no means seen this hen since, in Delhi.

Even the comparatively “common” species can provide you “lifer” experiences. One foggy winter morning, throughout the highway in Qudsia Bagh, we got here throughout a pair of heart-faced barn owls passionately making out at their house entrance, whereas dealing with the rising solar. What a beautiful solution to do the surya namaskar! Even higher, three wooly chicks, stood on every others’ heads simply across the tree trunk, in all probability unaware of what their dad and mom have been as much as. This was particularly fantastic in the occasions when the anti-Romeo squads have been beating up human {couples} in parks.

I nonetheless keep in mind the crafty with which a black kite, defending its infants, would launch its assault on anybody in the verandah in our Bombay flat. It would slip off its nest in the peepul tree, out of sight behind the cliff, circle across the facet of the constructing, gaining peak after which come screaming down in a Kamikaze-like dive, eyes blazing, claws out. You might really feel the wind rush because it handed.

And mynahs at all times give lifer moments: Wrestling in a mattress of fallen bougainvillea blooms in the Buddha Jayanti Park, whereas the viewers of different mynahs strutted round like a bunch of bookies taking bets. Two pairs, beak to beak, eyes obvious, thumping down beside the swimming pool early one morning, then coolly separating with delicate “good morning” chirrups. Worth the watch!

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