Baya Weavers are small birds of house sparrow size. The scientific name is Ploceus philippinus. What separates them from other birds is the beautiful nests they weave from the grass stalks, mud blobs.
The name weaver itself justifies the mastery is weaving very elaborate and elegant nests hanging from the branches of very high palm trees, thorny acacia trees. Usually these trees are near the water pools, scrub grasses where they are safe from predators.
It is male domain entirely to make the nest. When it is in the almost halfway stage, they invite the females by flapping their wings and if the female approves the nest, it means that she will reside with the particular male, mate and raise the new chicks. If she doesn’t approve, the structure will be abandoned and weaver will feel dejected and sometimes tore away the nest. It starts making newer one.
These birds come to our area in North India, at the peak of summers and by the onset of monsoon rains, have their nests completed. They visit the fields for foraging the seeds both raw and fallen after ripening.
After monsoons, and winter coming, they migrate to slightly warmer areas like western India where food is available and weather is not harsh.
The birds are gregarious and live in flocks. They can be located from the noises they make.
Weaver Birds visit our area when summers are at peak. They stay here, make beautiful nests using the grass stalks and mate and raise the chicks for new generation. Most common are Baya Weavers which make nests on the acacia, palm trees which are difficult for predators to approach.
Birds choose the places to nest in the area where food and water is available and safe from disturbances.
But there is another variety called Black Breasted Weaver. It is master strategist in the choice of the area fulfilling all three criteria. They make different kind of nests and use the long grasses to hang the nests. I accidentally discovered the nest while stopping on the scooter near a roundabout near Ghaggar river bridge in Panchkula Haryana of India.
On the side of road are trenches and crests and a water pool, I saw the nest last year. This year also I saw these nest almost in the same spot. Area is very difficult to approach. I somehow approached at not so favourable distant but still very far for better pictures of this small beautiful bird. It makes nest if the tall reed grass and so much camouflaged that you cannot see it clearly. Only once or twice it sat on the top of dry grass.
Not for nothing is peacock called the king of birds. It is one of the most beautiful birds. India has chosen it as its National bird.
It is big bird. Females don’t have the beautiful train of tailed feathers. They look drab in comparison. Every part of the body of the peacock is full of beauty except its feet.
There are many myths and fables connected to this bird in India. It is said that Krishna adorns a small peacock feather in his hair because more is most pious and devoid of any sex. It produces ear drops while dancing and the drop is lapped up by the female and she lays eggs.
Of course these are all stories. It is illogical to think that lord Krishna who had innumerable women as his consorts will consider such a choice.
In India peacocks are in plenty. In earlier times, they were commonly found in the villages roaming in the courtyards and sitting perched on the roofs and tree branches. They are commonly found in the plains areas jutting the hills.
There is a forest near my home where they are in plenty. During summer when they dance , it is sign of impending rains.
There is a river near Panchkula city of Haryana. It is called Ghaggar. Once a mighty river, now it has become a mere shadow of its past. A thin stream of water flows through the large bed made of sand, pebbles and small amounts of clay. Bushes and different grasses like bulrushes grow in its bed.
Here in the beds near running water one can spot these little cute birds only if you look very carefully on the ground because there colour camouflage them in the sand. They keep standing at a given spot for long time. They become quite fearless and allow you to approach quite nearer.
It is called Small pratincole, little pratincole, or small Indian pratincole (Glareola lactea), is a small wader in the pratincole family, Glareolidae. The birds arrived here about three months ago. They have laid the eggs and raised the new generation They lay eggs in the gravel and sand.
There is a forest near my home. It is maintained by Department of Forests. The department has converted a small portion of the forest into a Nature Park. I am a regular visitor to this park where sometimes very different birds make their appearance. One day, I was lucky to spot this beauty perched on the branch of a leafless tree.
It was sitting very patiently perhaps inviting me to take as many pictures as I liked. I took so many pictures. When I processed them, I had some confusion between Eurasian Hobby and Peregrine Falcon because the former was spotted many times by me.
But it turned out to be Shaheen Falcon juvenile.
The shaheen falcon with scientific name Falco peregrinus peregrinator is a subspecies of Peregrine Falcon. It is found mainly in the Indian subcontinent. Other common names for the subspecies include the Indian peregrine falcon, black shaheen falcon, black shaheen, Indian shaheen. It is a master hunter and usually takes the prey in the air. It can achieve horizontal speeds up to 240 kilometres per hour and when it descends, can attain a speed of 300 kilometres per hour.
Peregrine falcons were greatly prized by Mughal kings especially emperor Jahangir. It appears on the emblem of Pakistan Air Force. Pakistani cricket team is also nicknamed after this raptor.
The term halcyon days usually refers to the past times in one’s life when there a calm, happiness or successful period.
The term derives from the Latin word Alcyone who in mythology was daughter of Aeolus and wife of Ceyx. Her husband died during his shipwreck. The grief stricken Alcyone threw herself into the sea. After that both were transformed into halcyon birds identified as Kingfishers. For example the biological name of the white throated kingfisher is Halcyon smyrnensis.
When the birds made their floating nest on the sea, Aeolus restrained his winds and their was a period of calm of 14 days at the winter solstice, so that the eggs hatch into chicks and become birds.
The word halcyon comes from “Hals” meaning “sea or salty” and “kyon” meaning “to conceive” meaning to conceive in sea.
White throated kingfisher is a very beautiful bird. It is quite common in our area. Although going by its name, it is mainly a fish eater but it has modified its eating habits. It can catch insects, small rodents and lizards. That is why it can be found sitting on trees in the fields away from the water bodies.
It is a very small sized bird. It is immediately noticed by its greenish yellow colour plumage with its whitish breast. But most prominent feature is the white rim around its eyes. The bird is widespread in Asia. Both sexes are alike in appearance.
It is very timid and restless bird. It mostly resides in the thick branches where it hides itself. It eats insects which are deposited on the leaves. It also eat the nectar of some flowers.
It is either hiding in the shade of branches or is so restless that it takes great patience to take good photographs. Only when it comes in open momentarily for few seconds is the your chance to take good pics.
There is a bush in the herbal park in Panchkula, which has its leaves covered with insects larvae and deposits. These birds gorge themselves on these insects and it was here, I could manage to take some good pictures.