Saturday, November 4, 2017

An Eye Opener

They say travelling broadens your horizon. I can't agree more! Every little bit of travel I have done in the past has added something to my life. If not anything else, the sheer joy of seeing new places and clicking a few snaps made it worthwhile. I was comfortable and happy with a set pattern of life a couple of years ago when a change came in the form of relocation. This time it wasn't just packing our things and leaving to settle down in another city across the country - we had to cross the seas and settle into another country altogether.

I was aware of the need to adjust - new country, rules, climate, people, culture - everything was drastically different from what I had known all my life. Of course, any new experience brings with it a new learning. Slowly, I too adapted myself with the new way of life and the different surroundings.

The thing I missed most in my new life was my birding - back in Kerala, I was lucky to be surrounded by abundant birdlife. Not a day passed without seeing or hearing those magnificent winged beauties. The barbets, Orioles, Magpie Robins, Crows, Koels, Treepies, Babblers, Woodpeckers and Sunbirds chirped and fluttered around adding colour to life. And I ended up in a place where at best I could see a handful of gulls flying around. The occasional sighting of Magpies, Wood Pigeon, and Blackbird did not enthuse me. I was still gloomy thinking about the birds I left back home. I spend hours peering at the photographs and reminiscing the good old birding trips.

Some of the winged beauties @home


And then I came across Springwatch - rather Autumnwatch - a program by BBC where they showcased the British wildlife. The format and presentation of the program was entirely different from what I had seen or known until now. It had me hooked right from the first episode I watched. It was an eye-opener for me in the real sense of the word.

Before I took up an active interest in birding, all my trips to the forests and woodlands ended in disappointment as I innumerably failed to see any of the big beasts (leopard, tiger, bear and so on). Every trip to the jungle ended up with sightings of hundreds of deer, monkeys and in some cases, elephants. What can be more disappointing to a person whose dream is to see tigers and leopards roaming in the jungle???

Birding changed that perspective. Once I started birding, I started seeing the forest as a wholesome environment rather than a puzzle with the tiger or leopard pieces missing. Instead, I started spotting incredible birds and hearing sweet chatters at every nook and corner of the jungle. Suddenly, the forest became the magical land it always was...

Springwatch took this perception to the next level. While birding gave me the eyes to see birds and the big picture, springwatch helped me see the butterflies, moths, other creepy crawlies and even a seemingly small creature like the earthworm in a new light - the bigger picture!!! I realised the bugs and insects too play an important role to make nature the beautiful place it is. The world is made up of every beautiful, weird, incredible, magnificent and enchanting creatures you can imagine. What's more - there are even more undiscovered/lesser known beauties underwater.

Thanks to Springwatch and its spinoffs, I will never make the mistake of looking at nature the way I did. Now I know why the gull in the park stamps its feet in a dancing style, I have better understanding why certain birds feed the way they do, why butterflies and moths aren't just beautiful creatures... There is so much to know and understand. And when you start to realise the vast scheme of things planned by nature, you can do nothing but bow your head in admiration at the alter of the supreme intelligence which designed these in the most amazing way. When you realise how little you know, how tiny you are in the big picture, you'll just be awestruck and humbled by the knowledge... 

Yes, I do miss the constant 'Kuttr... Kuttr' of the White-cheeked Barbet in the background, but I don't feel sad about it anymore. Now, I hear the chirps of Robins, Tits, Blackbirds, and Magpies through my window. Although the gulls constantly call out harshly, I don't find their sound offending as the beginning. And I look forward to seeing everything in nature with an open mind and a wondering eye!!!


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