House Sparrow sized, Baya Weavers are master craftsmen. Their nests are the works of great ingenuity. The summer months transiting into monsoon rains witness the intense activity of nest building by these tireless birds.
It is the male Baya Weavers which are more beautiful as compared to their female counterparts, who construct the nest. The sole purpose of the nest building is to find a suitable partner and make preparations for next generations.
When the nest is in the half way stage, the males invite the females. They make noises and flap their wings whenever female Weavers fly near the tree, these male Weavers flap their wings sitting on their half done nests to attract their attention hoping that one of them may be kind enough to inspect the nest and build a bonding.
There is a river near my home. It is a seasonal River and has a large dry bed which is full of pebbles and sand. Many birds which lay their eggs in the nest made on the soil. I generally go for a walk and to take pictures there. Today while I was walking along the pebbles, I noticed a pink coloured pebble.
Something else Was there. It was a pink Grasshopper which is very rare. Usually the Grasshoppers are green coloured to match with the grass background for camouflage which gives them safety against predators.
But this one was of Pink Colour. It was also trying to use camouflage by sitting in the pebbles especially pink ones. It is an unusual and little-understood genetic mutation caused by a recessive gene similar to that which affects albino animals. This mutation results in one of two things happening or even a combination of the two; a reduce or even absence of the normal pigment and/or the excessive production of other pigments, in this case red which results in pink morphs. Such a morph is exposed to predators and rarely achieve the adulthood.
Birds make nests not to live in but lay eggs and start the next generation. Nests are of wide sizes and shapes, ordinary but practical and ornate type. But the nest of Baya Weaver bird is a work of great craftsmanship. It is made exclusively by male bird in the height of summers in India.
Finished Nest has two doors but there is a catch. When the nest reaches the stage when the vertical door is to start, male bird invites the female who inspects the work. If she likes it and agrees to move in for making a pair for eggs and chicks and next generation. If she reject it, the male is dejected and dismantles the entire work. It then begins to weave another nest.
It is said that Baya Weaver makes more than 500 trips to bring the grass stalks for nest building. The nests are made on the trees like acacia and other thorny trees which makes the entry of predators difficult. They are generally on the trees which are near the water bodies.
It is the winter season here in North India. The place where I live is adjoining the hills of Himachal Pradesh. During severe winters, many birds from these hill areas come down to adjoining plains which are relatively warmer.
There is a forest near my residence. These days lots of Alexandrine Parakeets and Rose Ringed Parakeets are present in this forest. Their flocks fly from one tree to another searching for the cavities in the tree branches for making nests.
In our country where mythology plays a big role in the lives of its inhabitants, many sites like hills, rivers, and caves have their associations with the mythology. One such concerns the Lord Krishna and is called Govardhan Parvat (mountain).
The legend is that when the uninterrupted deluge threatened to innundate Mathura, Krishna lifted the entire mountain on his little finger to make an umbrella to protect the Mathura.
UP government has planned to revive the almost barren Govardhan parvat situated about 23 kilometres from Mathura. Government plans to plant the herbal plants on the mountain. These are:
Kadamba: It is a tropical tree. Krishna and Radha are said to have conducted their love play under the cool shade of the tree. It is used as one of the raw materials in the preparation of “itars”.
Tamala or Indian bayleaf or tezpatta: It is commonly used in Indian culinary as well as medicines particularly for alleviation of diabetes due to the presence of highly antioxidant enzymes.
Karira: Scientific name is Capparis decidua. It’s spicy fruits are used for culinary purposes like vegetable, curries, and pickles. It is also used in medicine.
Pakar : It belongs to mulberry family. Leaves have sour taste.
Pilkhan: Scientific name Ficus virens. It grows to heights of about 100 feet. It is Avenue tree. It bears “strangler figs” because they can germinate on other trees and strangle them. It is used in Thai cuisine.
Steppe Eagle is also known as Aquila nipalensis in the scientific language is a scavenger. This species breeds east in European Russia from across Kazakhstan into Kyrgyzstan, China and Mongolia. Birds winter mainly in south and south-east Asia.
The bird is placed in the Red List by IUCN in the endangered category. There are many reasons attributed to the decline in population to such an extent. Some are like loss of habitat and exposure to radioactive radiations in its basic habitat.
Bird winters in South and South East Asia. It has suffered in Pakistan and India due to the presence of a drug Declofenac in the carrion of the dead animals which these birds feed on. This drug is used extensively in the treatment of cattle in these countries.
Thus these birds suffer both at the original residence as well as their temporary stay in Asia.
I chanced upon a ditch amidst the bushes where the carrion are being dumped. One can observe the eagles flying over the area. Earlier there were mostly Egyptian Vultures but now a group of these Steppe Eagles have landed here.