We were staying at the Singinawa Jungle Lodge at Kanha during my winter vacations. I am really fond of birding and wildlife, and so we would either go for safaris or for birding outside the resort every morning. The resort is also spread out over a large area, and has many species of birds visiting here. Our naturalist had told us about one particular spot called Leopard Rock, which overlooked a large Ficus tree, commonly called Water Fig or River Fig. This tree was fruiting and was attracting many birds while we were there. I love forest birds and got very excited at the prospect of getting to observe and click some of these birds while they were feeding.
We walked down to the tree and sat down on the Leopard Rock. It got its name because someone had spotted a Leopard on the rock long back. Slowly, the birds started coming to the tree. Coppersmith Barbets were the first ones. The barbet makes a sound like a coppersmith working on copper, which is how it gets the name. Like all barbets, it chisels and hole in a tree to make a nest.
We also saw two flowerpeckers, the Pale-billed and the Thick-billed. The Pale-billed Flowerpecker is only 8 cm long and is the smallest bird in India. The Thick-billed Flowerpecker is a bit longer, may be about 10 cm. Both the flowerpeckers feed on fruits, nectar and insects. It was fascinating to see the Pale-billed Flowerpecker hanging upside down while feeding. Both the flowerpeckers can be differentiated by their beak. The Pale-billed Flowerpecker has a pinkish, curved beak and the Thick-billed Flowerpecker has a thick, grey beak.
While we were observing the flowerpeckers, I suddenly saw a flash of red and orange and noticed that a minivet had come too. We identified it as a Small Minivet, but it is also called Lesser or Fiery Minivet. It primarily feeds on insects and larvae. Even though I have seen this particular bird before, I still get fascinated with its bright colours.
Slowly, the birds were getting used to our presence and started coming closer to us. Suddenly a Shikra swooped into the tree and spoilt the party, both for the birds and for us. The Shikra is a medium-sized raptor that preys on small mammals, birds and reptiles. Just as it approached the tree, all the birds on that tree flew away in an instant.
We waited for some time, hoping for the birds to come back. But, unfortunately, they didn’t. Though we were disappointed, we really couldn’t complain, as we had got to see many forest birds very closely for a long time and I had managed to get some really nice pictures of them as well.
Arnav Bajoria, 14 years old
(Guest at Singinawa Jungle Lodge)