Thereafter there flew a raptor

An eagle undresses
the clouds after the
summer rain, seducing
the wild blue yonder
to show a little skin
and a tattoo of the moon
on its cream cheese cleavage.

I freeze a little every time I spot an eagle. Ever since I heard that they fly above the clouds to avoid the rain, I have been hopelessly smitten by then. But it hasn’t been easy to spot them.

Serpent Crested Eagle

Serpent Crested Eagle

I have only see three members of the local Accipitridae families – the Crested Serpent Eagle, the Indian Black Eagle and the Grey-Headed Fish Eagle. The first two are regulars in many parts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The Grey-Headed one was an accidental sighting during a trek to the Anjuveedu waterfalls in Kodaikanal.

Undoubtedly the most fascinating parts of these sightings have involved these raptors tearing through the morning skies. The way they dance across bluing canvases, surveying the land below for prey while keeping an eye up there for perceived threats.

I have seen them hunt just once. An adult Crested Serpent Eagle swooped in, somewhere in the Valparai foothills, and wreaked havoc on a crow’s nest. He disappeared in a flash with a crooked grin and a mouthful of flesh, as a pair of crows tore after him but in vain. It reminded me of any scene in a Quentin Tarantino movie in which the bad guy wins, but he does it with such style and grace that the audience secretively roots for him to escape, rewarded yet unscathed.

Black Eagle

Black Eagle

Watching eagles soar is also akin to wrapping your head around how insignificant the human form when compared to the vastness of the universe. It can be unsettling at first, given how ill-equipped the naked eye is to track their flights of grandeur, but thereafter saunters in comfort, like red-hot embers on a cold night. A serving of solace that comes uninvited, but with such honesty that we let go of our inhibitions about being chained to the ground.

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46 comments

  1. I was attacked by an eagle in Janjeera, Maharashtra. I got out of the car at a cliff side with my parents safe inside and was talking pictures. I spotted a soaring eagle and all of a sudden it swooped down on me from so far away and I ran for my life(or for my face). It was like this close to attacking me when I shut the car door.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh woaw, can I say “lucky you” without earning thy ire? My guess is that the nest must have been on an adjacent tree or something. They are super protective about perimeters. I haven’t been attacked by one but I have had my hair threateningly graced by a marsh harrier after getting too close to its nest.

      Thanks for sharing your “my life as a cartoon” moment.

      Like

      1. Oh we used to live in New Delhi in an apt with a huge terrace when I was in 1st std. There was a tree in front of the house. We think there was a family of crows there. They had just laid eggs when one day my dad pointed out the nest to my mom. From next day, it became a war call whenever he would go on the terrace. The crow would just swoop down on him and attack him! Lasted for a month or so.
        And in Central Park, NYC, my friend was taking a pic of a tiny bird in a tree. Suddenly he spotted it swooping in him through the camera lens and we ran! We had the laugh of our lives! And he was a tall fit guy getting attacked by a cutie bird.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Tio, comrade, if that were the only reason for me to update this blog, I would gladly do so with as much vigour and enthusiasm. Thank you so much, it is an honour being thy eyes for a brief while at least.

      Like

  2. Beautiful. Both the post and the photos. “Chained to the ground” indeed; to be able to soar and see like the eagle.

    I am horrible at photographing flying or soaring birds. I chased after a pair of kites this past weekend for several hours (all to myself!) with only a couple of semi-okay photos to bring back from the experience. But the time spent with those two in the sights of my field lenses made the whole world go away. I’d gladly come back photo-less next time too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You chasing kites should be on a morning show! I m terrible at it, Shannon. These were total accidents, how I managed to not slip on my own feet and fall is beyond me.

      “Make the world go away” ahh how well you speak the truth.

      Like

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