Rendezvous with the jewel of monsoon

This is all about - undoubtedly the most COLOURFUL monsoon ever in my life.
Roaming around extensively in the jungles all these years, I have witnessed the most flooding monsoon, experienced excessively drenched outdoors, have been through the thickest green vegetation......BUT this recent India visit was an exclusive one - being blessed with some astonishing sightings of a spectacular jewel on earth - The Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher.
Meaning of the word "Colourful" has now been totally redefined for me!!!

During my past 20+years of extensive birding in India and especially in Western Ghats - I had always been dying to see this beauty - barely bigger than the thumb of my hand.
I have no words to describe how much this tiny feathered miracle mesmerises me. As if God probably had plenty of quality time and possibly the best palette of colours available to create this bird.

Ever since I have been in the UK , I missed the monsoon magic every year. When I lived in India - monsoon months used to be the most busy months for day outings and frequent mountain treks.
But travelling from the UK -it has always been a bit of a challenge for me to catch up with the lush green surroundings, moist soil, slippery rocks and fluffy clouds descending down to your feet !

Oh...I get so nostalgic for those foggy jungle walks, misty views, the sound of constantly dripping water drops from the trees and numerous waterfalls roaring down the mountain slopes!!

In addition to the Western ghats habitat, grassland sanctuary at Nannaj (Near Solapur) was also on my agenda of this visit. One of the reasons being the existence of Great Indian Bustard (a highly endangered species). For a long time I didn;t have any glimpse of this majestic bird and thus was a reason for a quick touch and go to Nannaj grasslands. Nannaj is also an interesting habitat for Black bucks - one of the most dynamic creatures.


First, about the Western ghats extravaganza -

All jungle streams start gushing with their full vigour and feels as if every drop of water has got a new life.This rejuvenation is the nature's life line and that is what keeps it alive throughout the year-

The fully drenched habitat provides some unique sightings as well. A Quail peeps out of the paddy fields fully soaked in water.

Floating clouds, emerald atmosphere and lingering mist and moist ambiance -

The valleys and mountains get a total different face lift during the magical monsoon months.

The outdoors everywhere speak only one language - water !

This wonderland provides an ideal habitat for these Little birdies to pair up and they find the monsoon mood perfect for courtship and mating.

These tiny birds dig a small nesting hole in the soft soil around the edges of waterfalls and scoop the soil out with their little beaks and its indeed a Herculean task !!

Its been talked that these cute little birds migrate from far away South Asian locations especially Sri-Lanka etc and spend their mating and nesting days in Indian subcontinent. but this only seems to be a speculative assumption. There hasn't been enough evidence of this yet. This is indeed a subject to be studied further. Probably, they display much more activity during the breeding season compared to rest of the year and hence are seen more frequently during monsoon.

Western Ghats always have plenty in stock to amaze a nature lover during monsoon and even after so many years of exploration in this area, I always get some pleasant monsoon special offerings -

Second spell
Moving on from the green and moist environs, my second spell was towards the grasslands. The area was relatively far more dry and the yellow-brown shades had still retained their summer inertia. Solapur is a shadow -zone region during monsoon and it desperately awaits some good rains every year to support the crops and the human lives together with the wildlife scattered in those drylands !

My visit to Nananj was with a wish to get at least a glimpse of "Maldhok"(local name for Great Indian Bustard) but this time my destiny was Blackbucks and few other winged wonders -

Romance in flight-

Grace is written all over the life of these speedy antelopes -

Agility is the way of life for a Blackbuck -

One on the ground , another one airborne !

In all it was just one week of monsoon mood ..and life long monsoon memories ....cherished for ever !!