A portrait of the photographer as a Pygmy Woodpecker

I couldn’t photograph Brown-Capped Pygmy Woodpeckers when I first saw them in Thekkady. They were quicker than hiccups. Every time I tried, they would disappear behind branches. Soon, I grew impatient. In a matter of minutes, I moved on to the next spot.

In less than a year, I saw a flock of them in Thattekad. Again, they kept fleeing my camera’s frame. But this time, I decided to hang around. And as time went by, they warmed up to my presence. Some were kind enough to strike remarkably curious poses.

I don’t believe that good things happen to those who wait. If you really want something, you must go out there and see if it exists – the way you think it does. And if it is prone to sudden flight, like Brown-Capped Pygmy Woodpeckers are – you ought to hold onto it.

They are cherub-looking members of the Picidae family. They are dressed in spotted black-and-white overcoats, with crests like top-halves of question marks of the Helvetica persuasion.

If I hadn’t hung around, I wouldn’t have noticed how gorgeous each one looked against the peach hues of the sun. If I had been impatient like once before, I would have gone through life, without knowing how sweet their songs were – that morning. And I might not have seen a sleepy Heart-Spotted Woodpecker on the neighboring tree.

Perhaps, at times, patience can be a stepping stone to get our hands on whatever you ache for.

But it means precious little if it isn’t backed by effort and persistence. And you don’t need an audience to cheer you on. Or a marching band to play an inspiring tune. As unequivocally manipulative as big businesses can be, a global shoe manufacturer got it right in 1988.

Just do it.

Brown-Capped Pygmy Woodpecker, Thattekad

A noisy summer’s
swansong
as crooned

by a woodpecker
down on his luck,
perched above a traveler,
with hiccups and
toenail clippers
to accompany them at dusk.

(Photographs: Thattekad)

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11 comments

      1. haha. I would love to say yes. But its a lot more mundane than that. We only recently discovered that the early morning rat-tat-tat was not a distant drill hammer but a woodpecker. I am that bird-ignorant.

        Liked by 1 person

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