Geographically I live at Sethumadai, Pollachi, just adjacent to Anamalai Tiger Reserve, but I call it – Paradise ! A world of lush green forests, shrub jungle, mountains, trails and canals. A paradise for bird watching! A long stretch of coconut plantations along the contour of the mountains interspersed with undisturbed forest patches is home to our farming community. The association with the forest has long been a way of life. The call of the birds at dawn and the silence at dusk drew us to it. And there was plenty to be savored. Birds, animals, insects, butterflies, trees, flowers, seeds – Nature – varied and ever changing, never failing to surprise us every time. As we started to explore, we saw them all spilling out in a colorful cacophony.
Yellow, brown, green, red, black & white birds – so colorful vibrant and resourceful as they go about their daily routine of feeding, preening, courting and establishing territories all round the year.
In winter the scenario changes with the arrival of migrant birds from far off cold places traveling thousands of kilometers. The joy and wonder at discovering them each season can only be experienced. Each one of these birds varied in color and size, equipped to adapt and survive, all in a grand union. It makes one wonder at the purpose behind their evolution.
Our children joined us ,curious to see what their mamas were raving over, only to be equally enthralled. Sometimes extending it to practice sessions for mopeds and cars too! Gradually the men folk too came along for a jog or a walk along the canal. And it would almost always end in a picnic! These birding trips essentially became family gatherings, each to wonder at the bounty in our backyard – unspoilt and left to us to be preserved forever.
Behind these wonderful experiences, always at the back of our minds were the warnings about the unpredictable dangers of the forest. In the still mornings engrossed in birds, the slight creek of a bamboo or the snap of a twig would startle us and put us on red alert. Many a days we have seen Sambar, Elephants, Gaur, Foxes and jungle cats with kittens. They have been equally startled seeing us. That second, with adrenaline pumping, we would make a run for our lives just as the animals did away from us!
Birds have adapted to live amongst us in towns and cities too. All we have to do be a little conscious of their presence, with their calls a constant reminder of their struggle to survive too. Bird watching is a pleasurable hobby which lets you live in tune with nature and at peace with yourself.
So, here ‘s to more birding!