A summer escape to watch the mysterious bird
Have you ever been to a studio with open skies and cameras positioned on tree barks and gravels? Yes, nature’s own photo studio. I am talking about one of the most tranquil birding sites of India – Sattal, Uttrakhand. Nature’s studio at Sattal has always fascinated bird photographers from around the world, especially for capturing images with quality DOF that one can shoot here. The spot is a natural heaven, both for birds and photographers. Here birds make a stopover to either take a quick gulp, or wash over in a small stream flowing below a bark, and then perch on for a few moments to quickly dry out themselves. To witness and click this natural phenomenon, the photo-enthusiasts sit in much discipline with their machines focussed to the right focal lengths, pressing their shutters every now and then.
Among all the feather beauties one can see at Sattal, the helmet guy whom I am referring to, is not an easy to spot or capture. It is not as social as my other friends with wings at this natural studio, who are far more lense friendly. These are usually found clinging on to their nests which they build hanging on tree branches that stretch out to the skies above. Else they can be found in the same vicinity, hunting for their food. One has to carefully scan these super tall, spooky trees with mosses hanging from every inch, to be rewarded with a sighting of this beautiful little creature. You can see one of the most amazing brush strokes on these feathered beings, done by ‘Mother Nature’, the world’s finest artist. She named this tiny winged minions as – Long Tailed Broadbill. When they move their head around, you actually feel that they are adorning a helmet which further shapes into their hind neck and extends to their ear coverts, crown and forehead as if wearing a helmet is mandatory to keep themselves safe amidst heavy traffic up there – a food for thought for us, human beings.
I had been a nurturing a dream to watch and capture Long Tailed Broadbill. Finally, on an April summer, I managed to take a train journey to Kathgodam to make my dream come true. The spot, just next to YMCA guest house at Sattal, is a perfect place to camp. The jungle is dotted with huge sky scraper like trees and one needs to have an eagle like ability to spot these tiny creatures. Long tailed broadbill is a migratory bird which flies in from North-East part of Himalayas to Sattal during summer for nesting purpose. The bird is as small as 10 inches in length and weighs about 50-60 grams. It mostly feeds on small insects and prefers to thrive in and around its nests. The nest is a small pear shape like structure, which is built hanging from tree branches. You have occasional wind blowing in but what you get to witness during this, is a spectacle yet a struggling sight – the nest gets continuously tossed in the air and swirled like a merry go round till the wind lasts. Still you find some these brave hearts clinging to their nests and small ones, while other watch helplessly, perched on a nearby branch.
I think all of us just need to take a small break from our normal life and observe things around. Imagine the struggles that these little creatures and many others around us go through in daily life, while we complain about trafic jams and crib about such little inconveniences. Food for thought…
Read also: Enchanting feathers of the valley
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