During my first visit to India I humbly bore the nickname Bird Girl, given to me by a fellow traveler. The group was astounded at the number of birds I had photographed, since they themselves noticed few, if any. I am still quite proud of this accomplishment, If you want to see some of my bird discoveries from that trip – take a look at these posts here, here and here.
I was therefore excited to see if I could repeat “I spy with my little eye… “ some new birds in South India. While I was successful, it was not without some challenges, but those challenges turned into the most fabulous rewards. More on those below.
Sighting started simply enough. How could one be in any part of India and not see the iconic peafowl? These were taken in the gardens of the Leela Palace in Chennai. Often peacocks are used as “sentries” or “watch birds” – their squawking and territorial chasing keep many intruders away. However these peafowl were too acclimated to having humans around them and just went about their business pecking for food. The peacocks did keep a watchful eye on their less glamorous peahens. All the better for me to get some closeups.
Interesting factoid on pea hens. The female peafowl has special sensors in her crest that allow her to feel the vibrations of a male when, during mating season, he shakes open his beautiful tail feathers. Her head feathers are tuned to vibrate at the exact same frequency – some 26 beats a second at which a displaying peacock rattles his tail. The peahens must be singing this line from “Great Balls Of Fire:”
“You shake my nerves and you rattle my brain”
More sightings – given that many of the places we visited were coastal there were excellent odds that I could photograph water birds. Here is a selection of egrets and herons that I found in Kochi and Kumarakom:
Bonus: an albino bunny which is not endemic to the area, but the Kumarakom Resort had a number of them hopping around for a lovely aesthetic effect. There were also ducks lazily paddling through the pools that wound around the villas there. Quite Zen.
But my most exciting photo captures took place during our houseboat cruise along the Kerala Backwaters. More on that in next week’s post.