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One day I was standing talking to the L&M in his study when I spied something through the window and duly let out a shriek of delight. I had spotted a bird checking out the ‘home’ vacated by the bereaved parakeet parents.

At first glance it had seemed to me that one of the parakeet parents was back. Were they going to make this their home again, I wondered. But this bird, though green, was smaller in size, with a shorter tail. I rushed to the balcony to check, and I was right. It was no parakeet, but a White-cheeked Barbet, the very first one I was seeing in my new place.

At last.

I have been hearing them for almost all the time I have been here, half a year and more now. But seeing them is altogether a different matter. Shy birds that they are, they hide among the thick foliage of trees which stand well back from my balcony. But that particular day, one had at last deigned to reveal itself to check out the hole in the coconut tree, the erstwhile home of the parakeet parents.


Was this barbet going to make its home in the coconut tree and lay eggs? Did that mean I’d be able to watch cute barbet kids poking their beaks out of the hole in the tree, waiting impatiently for their parents to come with food? Would I be able to watch them being fed, learning to fly? In that moment while I watched the lone bird entering the hole in the tree, I was already photographing them in all their various activities.


The solo White-cheeked Barbet who had come to inspect the tree flew away soon after and never to return to date. May be its standards were high and the hole in the coconut tree did not meet expectations. All my hopes and dreams of filming the barbet family were thus dashed to the ground. But still I am grateful to the bird for having flown down from its well camouflaged hiding place on the distant trees and revealed its presence to me. Small mercies!

© Shail Mohan 2022