Posted by: cochinblogger | August 18, 2014

Highway Shikra

IMG 272_SA Road

In the auto one morning on the way to the boys’ school, I saw an unusual bird perched on the gate of a nursery by the highway. At that hour, the nursery was, of course, closed. The bird was intently watching the traffic go by. It was clearly no ordinary bird, though I couldn’t identify it. And I couldn’t stop the auto, as the boys had to be dropped off at their school.

Ten minutes later, having dropped the boys, the auto halted at the same spot, on the opposite side of the road. The bird was nowhere in sight. I stepped out of the auto, and walked to the median in the middle of the road. And then I saw it — not on the nursery gate, but on a near-by lamp post, watching the vehicles on the highway zip by. I crossed the road and slowly approached the bird, avoiding eye contact with it. Before I got too close, I stopped and took a couple of shots with the zoom, just in case my approach made the bird nervous enough to fly off.

Closer and closer I got to to the bird, approaching slowly in an indirect fashion, with many pauses to calm the by-now alert bird. It looked like a raptor, with penetrating eyes and a sharp curved beak. I had now got as close as I could and raised my camera again. The photo on top is what I got; it shows the bird preparing to launch itself into the air. A moment later, it was on a distant coconut tree.

The moral of the story? Patience and persistence are never as important as when pursuing critters with a camera.

The bird is a Shikra. Let me quote one sentence from Wikipedia: ‘The shikra was a favourite among falconers in India and Pakistan due to the ease with it could be trained and was frequently used to procure food for the more prized falcons.”

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