Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Little Green Barbet

Eleven years ago I did a study with the help of an expert bird watcher, of the birds that are found in and around our golf course. Recently I was asked to do so again. This time however I needed no expert and I know by heart, sound [call] and sight and flight the number of birds that still survive and thrive. There are still 40 varieties of them seen in the last one year out of the 50 odd that were listed ten years ago. Some have disappeared and the numbers of many has come down drastically [Rosy Pastor]. Some however continue to thrive like the common Myna and the Crow both the house and the jungle.

But what drew my attention was the surprise missing of Little Green Barbet seen in such profusion now but not mentioned at all in that list made ten years ago. How can this be? We, or at least not the expert who was with me [refer: birds and others, Sunday, Nov 25, 2007] could have missed seeing this bird or at least listening to his call?

Some time ago I wrote about sighting and listening to the call of the Red vented bulbul in my backyard. Any time a new species arrives and thrives in new ecological environs, it lifts me out my gloom. The profuse sighting of the green barbet in recent years is one such event. This bird which is smaller than a Mina is colored green with rufus and white mixed front and a beak with bristles. Its flight is like an arrow shot from a bow. The call is a staccato cuttroo cutroo repeated over and over. Perhaps this is one of the early callers in the morning that wakes you from your slumber. I have often wondered how such a small bird can produce such a loud sound.

From the tenth green we walk to the eleventh Tee box and next to this path there stands a dead tree awaiting the axe. The trunk of the tree abruptly divides into three branches. At this cleavage is located the circular entrance of a Barbet’s nest. It is so well located; one can only see it from one angle. All others are hidden out of sight. What is even amazing is that despite the almost continuous walk of golfers within a few feet of the tree, the bird has managed to dig a hole for its nest. How is it possible? One day I took up a position and watched. Between one batch of four golfers leaving the putting area [green] and another batch coming there is an interval of ten minutes. That is when I saw the birds do their job of nest building, cleaning, feeding and what else. Remarkable is not it?

I did observe one pair of Sand Pipers coming into the course every summer and they still do after ten years. Are they same? I wonder. I used to see Rosy Pastors, Yellow wagtails and Wood Mynas in their hundreds, but I see a measly few now. All around the course there is so called development [concrete jungle] How much time before they convert the golf course which is the only refuge for these birds into some government sponsored monstrocity?

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