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Love and Bird Watching

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Moon Rise, Tikal

The birth of a bird watcher. On eating Shredded Wheat. Sunrises and loud forest canopies. (Map this!)
For additional pictures of Tikal click here.

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The Tree of Life

I have always been interested in wildlife but I was never much of a bird watcher. This changed when Neena came into my life, since she had been interested in birds as a child and had been on numerous bird watching trips. When you meet someone there is always a possibility that what they do or say might change you and when you love someone that possibility is even greater. My cousin Swati gamely tried to eat Shredded Wheat because her boyfriend (now husband) adored it. Love makes us do strange things, beautiful things.

Swati tried for a week to choke down shredded wheat until she finally confessed that she couldn’t stomach it (It’s an acquired taste – I’ve always liked it). At first squinting at those tiny things through binoculars was a bit tedious, but that is what my beloved liked so I must like it too. Then, slowly, a transformation took place. The deep green and yellow of a Bee-eater, the unfeasibly large beak and spotted patterns of the Pied Kingfisher, and the strange head-dress of the Hoopoe took a hold of me. Just as Neena had captured my heart the birds of South India cast bewitching spells and had me entranced.

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Red Lored Parrots

Tikal is a bird watcher’s paradise. Atmospheric ruined temples and green jungles are what brought us to Tikal but it was the birds that kept our interest. Getting up at 4:00AM we scaled Temple IV to see the sunrise and as the rays of our star warmed the jungle it erupted into cries and calls of birds. On a tree covered with bromeliads we counted at least five cereal box Toucans. Red Lored parrots flew in and out of the canopy, with the cacophony that is common to all parrots.

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Sunrise at Temple IV

We met some travel photographers at Tikal who told us that nature photography was a quiet solitary pursuit, hiding in blind or a tree for hours until the right animal comes around at the right time. I was reminded of this when we climbed into a rickety tree platform out in the jungle where we sat for hours scanning the surrounding jungle for any life. Sitting in one spot, the birds slowly revealed themselves – a Hooded Oriole here, a lovely Cotinga there. The highlight was when Neena spotted a Collared Aracari feeding in the trees, along with another large bird which flew off before we could identify it. How fitting is that – ending the with a tale of the one that got away?

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Gran Plaza

oolKha Phau?

Temple IV

8 Responses to “Love and Bird Watching”

  1. suhasini taskar says:

    Dear Shreesh & Neena,
    I loved the pictures of parrots and oropedula. However, could recognize the woodpecker from “Olkha pahu”. During the last trip to Mumbai, I took a picture of a green parrot eating fruit from the tree at kaka’s backyard. Also, currently in our back yard we have several different birds eating from the bird feeders. There are cardinals, red head sparrows, wood peckers, blue bird and yellow warblers. It is pleasant to watch them from the kitchen window and the sun room. I have some nice pictures and need to send them to you.

  2. Ada says:

    OK, learn new things about your friends every day. If only I had know we could have organized some bird watching with my mom-in-law. She is quite the bird enthusiast. I, myself, have never quite caught the bug. I think birds are pretty but identifying one from another has never been a passion for me. I’m just happy they eat mosquitos.

  3. Ada says:

    or is it bats who eat the mosquitos?

  4. Fred says:

    Sounds like you are really starting to unwind! Each post sounds more relaxed than the last.

  5. Vinay says:

    Now I know what to say on a Rosarch test – The tree of life!

  6. Neena says:

    My bird watching interests are limited to colorful tropical birds 😉

  7. Katherine says:

    Thank you…that was a wonderful bit of memory lane for me. I loved visiting Tikal…when I climbed to the top of the steps I was so fortunate to not share the space for over 20 minutes…it was so quiet and still…I recall sort of having a bit of a daydream that in the quiet I began to hear the voices of the past breezing through the tree tops.

    And then a bus load of folks pulled up. 😉

  8. Shreesh says:

    Guatemala is relaxing in that thank-god-I-haven’t-been-robbed sense!
    Some varieties of birds eat mosquitoes but bats eat more insects in general. We passed up going to El Zotz, where thousands of bats roam at night, with a sound of rushing water. It would have been a multi-day schlep over heavy 4WD roads…
    I have never taken one of those tests, despite how famous they are!

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