Following a flycatcher to paradise: Part 2

About two months ago I had written about the Asian Paradise Flycatcher. I lamented about having never seen the white-morphed male. Just a few days after that, during a trail in the Thekkady foothills, I saw an adult male (orange-morphed) land on a tree a few feet away. Like a curious bystander, he flew from branch to branch until he was directly above me. The timing was exquisite. A minute or so before I spotted him, I was talking about his continued and inconspicuous absence from my life with an experienced birder who was accompanying me.

I told him how I might do something ridiculous if I ever saw a fully white-morphed Asian Paradise Flycatcher.

Asian Paradise Flycatcher

Asian Paradise Flycatcher

When I first sighted the Malabar Giant Squirrel in Kodaikanal, I came back home and changed my life. A chance spotting of the Lion-Tailed Macaque at Parambikulam led me to turn vegan and grow sideburns. I was pretty sure I would do something drastic for this bird. Sell a house. Cut off a toe. Change my first name to make it sound less asexual.

As it turned out, I just sheepishly grinned. I then tugged at my friend’s collar and pointed out the bird to him, before pulling out the camera. I expected a bigger reaction. Perhaps I obsessed about him too much. Or that he was still bathed in the blood of golden peaches; not yet a fully-fledged ivory male adult. I thought about these things only during the bus ride back home.

At that moment, when he fluttered his tail feathers and showed me his perfect crest, I felt my head turn into a pillow. A warm, soothing silence descended upon the thorny terrain we were on. Nothing more. Nothing less.

I spotted two other birds, I had been dying to see before, later that morning. The stunning Golden-Fronted Leafbird and a pocket-sized cartoon of a Layard’s Flycatcher.

Golden Fronted Leafbird

Golden Fronted Leafbird

We had visited a farm in the foothills, which was home to some of the most gorgeous birds I had ever seen. At one point, I saw a Black-Headed Oriole pick apart a caterpillar a few trees away from a Common Iora couple dancing to the heartbeat of the sun. There was also the excitement of planning escape routes in case of elephant attacks. My friend seemed glad that I could swim. I imagine, also that he could outrun me.

But nothing wacky or scary happened. Instead a tough-to-photograph Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher, a Banded Bay Cuckoo and a Malabar Grey Hornbill showed up too. And then there was the joyful panic attack of spotting four different types of owls in a single day – the Indian Eagle Owl, Brown Fish Owl, Jungle Owlet (two sub-species) and the Spotted Owlet. I cannot even describe the effect that the Jungle Owlet had on me. In a few days, maybe.

Jungle Owlet

Jungle Owlet

A shorter trail the next day in Thekkady was fantastic too with Indian Pittas, Serpent Eagles, Racket-Tailed Drongos and White-Bellied Treepies showing up to say hello.

It was a wonderfully strange birding weekend.  In a way it had me convinced that a bird in hand is worth an Asian Paradise Flycatcher in the bush.

But thanks, sweet prince of paradise. The pleasure was all mine.

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41 comments

  1. Love the gratitude of the wing clip, very humbling. Alongside paragraph 3’s undeniable ‘stand up’ ability. Holding hands with a little romance, cute christy, a bloody peach juice well done ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve yet to visit India, so it exists only as images in my mind, most often pictures that contrast intense urban crowding and poverty and sparse populations scratching out existence in the bleak countryside. I know there is much more and your captivating stories of birding adventures both delight my mind and entice me to know more. I applaud your courage and reckless abandon to follow the spirit of wildness that seduces you into exploring India’s Natural beauty and then sharing them so eloquently with the world. Have you ever considered taking your “show” to young students?

    Much thanks, I look forward to the next magical journey.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You make me feel good about this writing shtick of mine that I spend a good part of my nights with. I’d thank you again but instead I shall assure that I don’t intend to stop writing regularly anytime soon, comrade. I’ll see you here again!

      As for the students, I would love to talk about nature to them, i just can’t seem to find the time or the avenue these days 🙂

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  3. loved the photographs…the one and only time Ive seen the paradise flycatcher was when a birdlover friend was showing me the tree where it is seen sometimes..and as we looked up there it was…one of the strangest experiences I’ve had.. 🙂 thanks for sharing this..

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      1. yes..and it was beautiful…the bird..the moment..I think my love for birds..whatever it is left now started from that day.. 🙂 didn’t think to write about it..but maybe sometime 🙂

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  4. are you lucky or what…4 owls in a day…what beauties…the only time i’ve seen the asian paradise flycatcher was in the woods of matheran…and i had not even known of its existence back then…needless to say,we were left speechless…as it flitted from one tree to another ,playing hide n seek with us…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah I think speechless is the sentiment I can associate with mr paradise too. The 4 owls were just luck, comrade, in grand proportions! Oh and also, i excitedly confused a serpent crested eagle with the white-bellied sea eagle. Again 😀

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      1. Hehhe…I have a lot of pics and will take many more in the summer (no waking up in winters…brrr). I have the owl pic also. Maybe you can tell me the name of the exact species?

        Liked by 1 person

  5. After the18 months hiatus since we ceased being colleagues, it is wonderful meeting you again and i am glad i regained the acquiantance. Christy, the writer-turned-naturalist….simply love this avtar of yours!

    Liked by 1 person

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