Mountains, Nature

on avifauna and the mountain…

Common Hoopoe, the avifauna of Kumaun Himalayas, Ranikhet, Uttarakhand, India

what does the mountain seek from a bird?… music for one, since most of the other fauna seems too preoccupied with wrapping its mortality into complex layers of camouflage… the avifauna is smug, teasing the wayfarer into rummaging through the thickets for a glimpse of the song… simply on the dint of its ability to fly, it garners far more attention than any other part of the natural world… for birds are, to be fair, the quintessential globetrotters… and where the wings wouldn’t provide the kinetics to ascend, they are as comfortable sprinting across the terra firma or wading through water… 

some prefer their hermitage strictly within the confines of thick woods, the birdsong a sole marker of their existence across slopes and the brooks bisecting them… rummaging and rustling through leaves for food, and crooning from high perches at leisure, at time to nonchalantly intervene in the predator-prey action sequences on the ground… all completely shrouded by a possessive canopy… 

Streaked laughingthrush, the avifauna of Kumaun Himalayas, Dhur village, Bageshwar, Uttarakhand, India
Streaked Laughingthrush, Dhur village, Bageshwar, Uttarakhand

some walk the line, inhabiting the edge of the woods, encroaching into human settlements, for food or a casual stroll… they hop and stare, stare and stalk, race down the mountain and skip up the slopes in swathes of motion too swift for others, and the brief moments of rest seem more like those of restiveness…

Crested Bunting (male), the avifauna of Kumaun Himalaya, Ranikhet, Uttarakhand, India
Crested Bunting (male), Ranikhet, Uttarakhand

a few transcend higher and higher… tracing circles at dizzying heights without even batting an eyelid (or a wing) … at a point where one moves to keep still… static and dynamic become fuzzy than binary… they see the large perspective from far above and remain there… the ragged cliffs and jagged slopes their sole dominion, and the cold icy wind their chariot…

not all aspire for the gnawing solitude that comes with such nobility though… a large majority prefer rollicking along the road, curious about the toxic benevolence that seeps out of human constructs around kerbs and corners… some also partake in the compounds of divinity… lending an innocent sonority to the philosophically sober… goading history out of crevasses and incantations out of statues and prayer beads…

like any other landscape, avifauna lends punctuation to the mountain, setting about a flurry of activity amidst the sombre, inducing the element of urgency in an ecosystem that otherwise exudes a sense of idyll, and lends gregariousness where rest of the fauna seem to prefer extreme recluse…

musings on birds, travels across the Himalaya…

Author: Parth Joshi

Allured by the outdoors, the author is made up in parts of that quintessential lost soul wreathing under the pangs of biophilia in a desk job, a wannabe elegist mostly ending up in dungeons of poetasters and an optimist waiting for the senility of the modern world to fade away while sampling shoots and leaves. In saner times, he has a keen interest in areas pertaining to tourism, history, agriculture and climate change, especially with respect to historical interpretations, emerging technologies and future livelihoods. An avid trekker, runner, cyclist, birder and photographer, he is more often than not found gloating over anything hinterland, on foot or over computer monitors, and fantasizing solutions that can foster inclusive growth and sustainable livelihoods for communities at the grassroots.

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