I discover beauty, in physical forms, while birding. I try to cup its essence like palm leaves do a heavy shower. Most of it spills out of my hands. I hold hostage the thimbleful that remains through poetry, prose and photographs. I seek out boxes to put them into and admire them. Perhaps, even introspect about my own semi-charmed life that led me to these moments.
Yesterday, a few Coppersmith Barbets and a hyperactive Asian Paradise Flycatcher reminded me that beauty in birding is neither an art form nor a science. It is a backpack I can sling over my shoulder as I mosey towards the horizon. They made me realize that, in the absence of harmony and clarity, it is just extra baggage.
The only meaningful proof of all the beauty I claim to have experienced is that this life of mine has improved since I took up birding. While I still harbor doubts about my ability to sustain contentment without ruining it through self-loathing and nihilism, things have been good. I feel fine most of the time. Sure, my life had its share of bad times in recent years. But I have found myself always a birdie away from feeling confident and happy again.
My first trail during the winter of 2015 yielded beauty in gargantuan proportions. I went inside Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary after five long months. The sanctuary closed its gates early this summer due to severe water shortage. The weather has been playing havoc with my birding plans ever since.
And when I did, I was approached by an Asian Paradise Flycatcher who set my heart aflutter, and my mind – racing. I felt harmony in her and shared with her – oxygenated clarity.
I will write more about her, and the other gorgeous birds I spotted, later this week. For now, say hello to my prodigal lovers from the ongoing winter of 2015.
Impregnate the sun,
and give her a burden to bear;
decorate her womb
and chase the rainbows
out of her hair.
(Photographs: Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary)