Untainted love: Painted Storks

71% of you
tastes like the salt
in me too.

When I first spotted Painted Storks, they were way up in the sky, like militant inkblots on a mission. As they were descending, unstitched from the horizon, I could see their impressive down-curved beaks.

They found an open marsh below, about half a kilometer away, and noisily settled down. Their heads resembled summer peaches with scooter helmets on. I noticed just how large their wings were too. So I sauntered, whistling out of tune in excitement, towards the cackling flock. I wasn’t cautious about frightening them away because I didn’t know better. And so – away they flew.

It was about a month before I saw another Painted Stork. I did so while birding near the Pulicat lighthouse. She in close proximity to me. I was smitten by their dangling reddish-orange legs and the black-and-white streaked bands running across their breasts. They took off after a while. The rays of the sun tickled into translucence – the undersides of their wings.

Painted Stork, Pulicat

Towards the end of 2013, I saw one in the clear light of day at the Sholinganallur lake. She was about 20 feet away from me. There were Asian Openbills, Glossy and Black Headed Ibises, Spot-Billed Pelicans and Red-Wattled Lapwings. But my eyes belonged to her. It felt like lust at third sight as I drooled over the colours in her plumage. 

She was a painter’s dream that stopped itself, halfway through. And spilled forth its prettiest contents onto the pillow.

It took all the strength I had to remain cool and collected. I wanted to relieve myself of a prominent clothing item and cavort without grace. A mad man in the middle of an amateur Swan Lake performance.

Better sense, thankfully, prevailed. I managed to take a satisfying photograph of her without frightening the children or inviting the ire of local dogs.

Painted Stork, Sholinganallur

 

(Photographs: Sholinganallur, Pulicat, Vedanthangal)

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51 comments

  1. Fantastic poem ~ and also had to smile at your writing of your friend “immerse my head in still waters and imagine, for a few seconds, that this universe only consisted of the vast blue ocean” as I have had that sensation & thoughts many times…nothing quite like the salt of the ocean.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautifully salty. I just love the scruffy pelicans; they look so worn and wise, as though the maps to navigate the ocean are hidden in tiny scrolls within each hair, and the ink from a distance makes them look grey.

    ‘the frightening of all vertebrae’- gorgeous

    Liked by 1 person

  3. India has some beautifully colored birds. Even the waders! ‘…relieve myself of a prominent clothing item’ and the thought of you gyrating missing something ahem useful about made me laugh. Christy, you have such a way with words. That last picture. Just wow. I’m guessing you were quite close and that she let you take that photo. Love at third sight for sure.

    Your stories, poems, and beautiful birds that tie us back to our own humanity is rare in a blog. Thanks again for recycling.

    Liked by 1 person

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