Walking past the lawn, I notice the bird right away. True that it is an unremarkable grey in color, but it stands out against the beautiful green of the lawn. In fact the hedge at the foot of which it is ensconced is also a lush green.
I look around, puzzled. The garden resembles some place I have been to before. Yes! The layout of the lawn and the hedge look remarkably like one particular part of the Qurum Natural Park at Muscat. No way could it be the same. After all I am in my home country. Still, the similarity strikes me, especially the sight of the grey bird. I had seen (and clicked) a bird just like it over at Muscat. That one had been a common sandpiper. This bird, though it has similar coloring (no white, just grayish brown all over), has a much shorter and rather flat beak, yellow in color. The head too is flat as if someone took a hammer to it.
The head! The bird stands up on its legs, and I notice they are long and yellow ones (like red-wattled lapwings). It moves its head this way and that before walking across the lawn and I stare open-mouthed. The nondescript bird has shimmering colors on its flat head, mostly pink but also shades of blue and green. Oh wow! No ordinary bird this, by any standards. Where is my camera? I have to go home pronto to get it and in the meantime hope that the bird will stay put.
Reaching home, I straightaway notice the beautiful Jerdon’s leafbird perched on a branch of the tree in the next door yard. A leafbird, a leafbird, I whisper excitedly to my family and drag them out to watch. I have never seen one in my locality before and I am ecstatic that it finally has chosen to grace my tiny corner of the world.
I run up stairs to get my camera. Armed with it, I step out on the terrace with the leafbird in mind. I HAD to capture the leafbird before it flew away. The one in the park had to wait. Suddenly blue in the leaves on the opposite side catches my attention. A verditer flycatcher! That beautiful blue could be nothing else. Omg. Omg. Look! I tell the L&M. It’s a verditer flycatcher! He smiles at my excitement.
I am in a dilemma. The leafbird or the flycatcher? I turn to look at the leafbird, but decide to capture the flyctacher first. After all it is closest. Next the leafbird and then I’ll hurry to the park. The obliging flycatcher is still at the same spot on the branch of the jackfruit tree. I aim, focus and press the button. But there is no familiar ‘click’. What? What’s wrong? I try again. No. Nyet. Nothing. In panic, I check the camera. It shows me there is no battery charge left. Noooooooooo! No. No. No. This isn’t happening. Not now. Not when the birds have obliged. No. No. No. No!!!!!
Amma? Aren’t you getting up? I hear the Second Born ask. Good God! A dream! It had all been just a dream. No park, no birds, nothing. I get up and check the camera. It shows the battery has full charge. There’s at least that.
©Shail Mohan 2017