As the dawn started beautifully on 26-Apr-2015 (Sunday), a group of us (30 members) gathered at Kanuvai equipped enough to kick off our ‘Bird Watching’ session which was organized by the Go Green volunteer team at Coimbatore as a part of the Greenathon celebrations- many of us considering this as our inceptive trip. Along with us were Mr. Parameswaran, an experienced birder & former board member of ‘Seattle Audubon Society’ and Mr. Sivashankar, who is being mentored by the former. Our Bird trip started from that very place as cars jaunted towards the chosen birding spot with heaps of excitation and energy flowing from all the members.
The spot selected was ‘Sholaiyur’, a tropical deciduous forest / Semi Evergreen forest in Palakkad district, Kerala situated sat 2400 feet height and about 10KM from Anaikatti, Coimbatore. As a part of Western Ghats biosphere, this place is rich in flora and fauna round the year. Once the group touched the forest beyond Anaikatti, the charm of Agali range drew in our party. Noise of the outer world was altered to euphony of birds and insects.
Our group cumulated at the entrance of nature surrounded Sholaiyur village where Parameswaran sir delivered a short introduction talk of ‘Bird-watching’ and the necessity of binoculars in bird-watching. Upon his bird watching & trekking tips, we heard the enchanting whistle of ‘Malabar Whistling Thrush’ from a distant place. At the same time, a trio had gone to the forest guards to secure proper permissions to enter the place. After several minutes of drilling questions to ensure safety to every one of us, the guards gave us permissions and warnings of elephants and snakes owing to the recent rains. Nothing could have been a better warning for us.
The session started by climbing a slope under the canopy of trees. From there on, the day was filled with natural wonders. All the members were indulged in finding birds and being clarified about their findings. Whenever the group stopped by to watch a new species, they were informed with the characteristics of those species by the experts within the team. Starting from the ‘Malabar Parakeet’, an endemic species of Western Ghats, the team was traced with details of the species whenever seen one. Alongside, few available binoculars were shared among all the members since it was the first session for many.
Along with the bird information, we were also enlightened with ‘Nature conservation’ and ‘Citizen Science’. Upon our ascent in the stony road, there came up a ‘Raptor’ which taught everyone, how bird identification can be trickier and interesting. The raptor was identified as ‘Crested-Serpent Eagle’, and upon reviewing in flight was dubiously claimed as ‘Oriental Honey buzzard’. Again, on careful analysis of its flying pattern and dihedrals and with the photographs of Mr. Sivaraman, the bird was confirmed as ‘Crested-Serpent Eagle’. We were luckier to get a migratory bird still at this time that made us to know about migration too. The group had a prettier look at ‘Greenish warbler’ with its song.
It was distressing to see the natural vegetation being destroyed at many places in this splendid forest owing to cultivation and human disturbances. This practice certainly costs number of birds and wild life. When we were nearing our destination, the whistle of ‘Malabar whistling Thrush’ was growing lovelier, making everyone to smile at the same instant. This is the type of moment when one loses words to explain the beauty and intricacies of our Earth and keeps fumbling for better word to express the right amount of feel. Similarly, I have no words now to tell how perfect and poetic the whistle was! Astonishment was the feel when few of the members were shown a pair of ‘Draco’ – Flying lizard, which actually does not fly but glides. Encountering the Draco with its characteristics was a surprise to the fresh bird-watchers.
The group slowly reached its destination spot which was exceedingly active with birds. A ravine with humming stream greeted us by showing ‘Malabar Barbet’ which is an endemic and beautifully coloured bird. In that wet spot covered all over by dense trees, all the thirty members formed a group with eyes on all directions enjoyed the nature. A squirrel attracted everybody with its brown fur.
The ‘Bar-winged Flycatcher’ bird was a life bird for most of the members who were amazed by the little bird’s tremendous fly-catching ability. It was unquestionably a visual treat for anyone. After a 30 minutes stand at this wonder place where birds kept on arriving and attracting us in, we had to return back to our start point as promised to the Forest guards. The return way also was filled with bird discoveries and nature discussions (Silently without disturbing the forest).
Apart from this interesting visit to the nature, we realized by many occurrences that humans and his reengineering plans to save earth are the only disturbances to nature. Nature always seems to survive on its own. Without realizing this truth, we always try to change its course every now and then by inventing new horrors to minimize the effect of old horrors. Even better, in the name of good deed, many of us end up creating a worse outcome. One such example is the story of Cassowaries, an endemic bird of Australia and New Guinea, which on being fed once by a human started attacking other humans for not providing them food. The people who died more were the ones who fed them as they didn’t feed the bird to its liking. This might sound humorous or weird unless we imagine the threat it poses to the bystanders. They started coming to the human populated areas and began its attack in need of food (It has a strong three toed leg to gut a human). How much time will it take for the monkeys to do the same!!
Nature has its own course of events for its entire species and we happen to be just one of those species. Let us not do any more devastation by our naiveté .