A water lily that thought it could dance

I am pretending that summer isn’t in a fierce mood. I am ignoring the sweat dripping down my forehead. The constant buzzing of air-conditioners. The humidity in the air. But I am painfully aware that birding season is over. Many of the migratory birds are gone. The endemic ones are vacating regular nesting grounds in search of water. Last summer, I felt really bad about it. I couldn’t bear the thought of having to wait until November for the next season.

This year, things are looking up. I know this because a birdie told me so. And not just any birdie. But one with tail-feathers so curvy that it can be mistaken for a dance recital that came to life.

A few days, I was fortunate enough to spot a pair of Pheasant-tailed Jacanas. I saw them towards the end of a dry birding trail in the villages surrounding Ponneri town. They were foraging through water lilies, with herons and plastic cans for pond-mates. It came as a big surprise to me. I had seen them just once before.

These jacanas can be found in tropical areas in parts of India, Indonesia, and Taiwan. And it has been reported that they are a vagrant species in Australia too. They belong to the group of waders that are easily identifiable by their huge claws and unmistakably long tail-feathers.

Also, they look like anthropomorphic teacups all dressed up for some dance performance.

I stood on the edge of a temple pond and watched them hunt for insects. I was in awe of the finesse with which they scooted from one lily to another. And the way they cocked their heads, assuredly, back and forth – as if to tell me that things are going to be alright.

It‘s always special to connect with birds that I don’t get to see often. But these jacanas helped me in reaching two important conclusions. One is that if I ever make a list of heroes who inspire me – it will start and end with ‘The Little Engine That Could‘. The other is that I will get through the summer, sedated and uncooked .

Thank you, dear Pheasant-Tailed Jacana, for making life easier for me.

She’s the queen of lilies,
a milky-white damsel,
with cappuccino stains on her neck.

She’s a dream sequence in short supply,
with salty lullabies on her breath.

(Photographs: Ponneri – Chennai)



  1. Even birds have to rest their feathers and gather their strength for the coming migration. So must you. Gave my family a slide show of this beautiful Jacana dancing on lily pads. Thanks for the show!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Bet you had a great time witnessing the performance …. Beautifully worded esp. loved these “anthropomorphic teacups all dressed up for some dance performance” … “mistaken for a dance recital that came to life”!

    Pics does speak a lot – beauty & elegance perfectly carved in the shape of a bird … whose every movement is a sight to watch ….no wonder that’s a beautiful verse at the end!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awww Mridhula, thank you so much (beaming smile). Look at this cutie pie of a water bird, how can words even begin to contain their gorgeousness. I am glad that you enjoy my meandering efforts to paint the right portraits ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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