Bole re papihara – the Pied crested cuckoo.

Pied crested cuckoo, at Tiruvannamalai, Aug 6 2011

‘Commence your journey, O messenger of the clouds, sprinkle rain upon this parched earth’.

Kalidasa’s poem Meghadootam talks about the yearning of the chataka bird for the first drops of rain. The chataka, alias the pied crested cuckoo, in Indian mythology, drinks only raindrops and is considered a harbinger of rain.

As I’m fond of saying, when Mother Nature gives, She really gives.

Through these years, all I could get were fleeting glimpses of the pied crested cuckoo. Clamator jacobinus, also called the Jacobin cuckoo is a summer migrant and its arrival down south precedes the arrival of the monsoons.

In an open field at the temple town of Tiruvannamalai, opposite my friend’s ashram Tapasyalayam, I was blessed with the sighting of not one but three pied crested cuckoos, sitting on an overhead wire. They allowed me to take a really long look at them. And for the nth time in my life, I rued the lack of a good DSLR camera.

The cuckoos were really close however, close enough for me to get one decent record shot with my little point-and-click camera.

Common Hawk cuckoo - Brainfever bird

The other member of the Cuculidae family that smiled on me at Tiruvannamalai was the Brainfever bird, Cuculus varius. Its characteristic call followed me everywhere on my bird-walk through the fields on the foothills of Arunachalam.

Other notables, all sighted at hand-shaking distance in and around the ashram, were – Indian treepie, a large flock of brahminy starlings, black-shouldered kite, shikra, innumerable white-headed babblers, indian rollers and black drongos. And also, Indian bush-lark, indian silverbills, black-headed munia, scaly-breasted munia, purple-rumped sunbirds and pale-billed flowerpeckers.

Inside the massive temple complex of Annamalaiyar, near the temple tank, one gets to see the white-browed wagtail and laughing doves.

I would strongly recommend a visit to Tiruvannamalai for those of you who are ornitho-spiritually inclined. There is plenty of birding to be done at Tiruvannamalai and en-route. The road from Krishnagiri to Tiruvannamalai is ghastly, all 100 km of it. The route via Vellore is much better, but longer by 80 km.

Either way, the route is scenic and avian-rich.

Cheers … Srini.

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