Delicately they came out of the egg shell , and arrived into this world. Crawling out slowly , they saw bright sun rays and shone with the dancing trees. They were fed daily and made comfortable in the prettiest of the nests , when night wore its darkest coat and the weather was not friendly. Then came that day when those tiny little chickens had to step out of their comfy nest to aim for a perfect flight, because that is what birds do to give us freedom goals as we look up and wonder what it feels like to have wings.
What morning alarms can be more calm and soothing than the chorus of birds who knocks the door of our mind with sweet cacophony in the wee hours of the morning. The metro cities devoid you from this song, but blame the speeding urbanization and the pollution in its air and not the birds. Thankfully we still have places which are not affected by the chaos of metro and offers a delightful break from all things urbane.
One such hospitable hub for bird lovers is Jilling Terraces, where you will never be far from the birdsong. Often , given the air of serenity that reigns over here, it may be the only sound you hear all day. During the season of spring, Jilling also comes alive with countless species of butterflies; you could go to sleep on a daisy meadow and wake up to the flapping of butterfly wings.
Located in the South Gola range of Himalayas near to the Bhimtal city of Uttarakhand, Jilling Terraces is set amongst 100 acres of untouched forests and guided nature trails. It offers a beautiful residential space called Chestnut House. In 1932, a Sanskrit scholar named Subramaniam Iyer and his Polish wife, pining for cool climes, bought this part of Jilling and set up Chestnut House. The present owners of Chestnut House are Sheela & Rajeev Lunkad - a Delhi based couple who being architects and craft lovers, accentuated the house with exquisite handcrafted marvels, choicest furnishings, warm lightnings and chic upholstery.
Jilling's evergreen flora and coastal ecosystem makes it an ideal home for turtle doves, woodpeckers, chestnut bellied rock thrush, himalayan goral and a lot others to name. In our latest expedition to Jilling Terraces, we managed to capture wonderful glimpses of its fauna : flocks of parakeets and woodpeckers flied above us in droves, piercing the serene morning with their conversation. Scarlet minivet, rufous sibia , white throated laughing thrush and brown fronted woodpecker were also spotted along our trail from the Chestnut House to the Ridge.
But birding is not necessarily a solitary endeavor. This thrilling activity comes with its own built-in community of ardent, knowledgeable, friendly, nature-loving types, and in our team of 4 , their were 2 bird lovers with the same skill sets.
Avijit Dutta a naturalist and tourism professional from Calcutta, and Mr. Sai Vivekandanda from Coimbatore, an architect by profession and a birder by heart made sure to enter every wood and wetland with the promise of seeing something altogether new and unexpected. And once curiosity takes hold and you make that positive step towards discovery, you join the rapidly swelling ranks of the BIRDING COMMUNITY.
Below are some beautiful glimpses of birds photographed by Avijit Dutta -
1. Brown Fronted Woodpecker
A rare sight when compared to the larger species of woodpeckers found in the South Gola range of Himalayas , the Brown Fronted Woodpecker was captured while on the walk to the Ridge from the Chestnut House.
2. Chestnut Bellied Rock Thrush
Resting on the branch in a place so lush and green, this bird is Chestnut Bellied Rock Thrush. This male bird has a deep chestnut belly with wings showcasing a contrasting shade of blue unlike their females and juveniles. It was photographed while on the walk from the Chestnut House to the Ridge.
3. Himalayan Woodpecker
The hills around the house are also home to the Himalayan Woodpeckers. This bird was photographed while on the walk from the Chestnut House towards the ridge. It may also come to see you right at the doorstep in the evening.
4. Rufous Sibia
This beautiful avian specie saved us from the chase game as it was spotted fluttering its colorful wings amidst the greens , right above the Oak room of Jilling.
5. Scarlet Minivet
Sighted from the window of Jilling's dining one fine evening, this one is a male specimen in blended shade of scarlet and orange, with black upper parts. The females are usually yellow with grayish olive upper parts.
6. Turtle Dove
This bird with colorful feathers was photographed right outside the Kafal room. It was spotted during the evening after a strong downpour. Turtle dove is a common resident of the Jilling Estate and almost a sure sighting.
7. White Throated Laughing Thrush
This active and noisy bird was sighted making a variety of squeals, buzzes and laughing calls, perching in the middle of the small forest path of Oak trees. It has dull brown back and tail, a bright rufous crown and nape, and a conspicuous white throat and upper breast. It is found in small to large flocks moving in the middle levels of the forest, but also feeds near the ground.
Few things are as nourishing to the body, mind, and soul as a direct experience of the natural world. We all need wild places. Part of the beauty of these birding excursions is the guaranteed variety of your surroundings. If you want to see waterfowl, explore a marsh or wetland. For shorebirds, hit the beach. Warblers and tree-clingers love trees, so plan a trip to the nearest forest. And when migration season rolls around, and the valleys are rich with raptors, you would be wise to climb a mountain and enjoy the view.
Perhaps if you feel that there’s not enough room in your life for more knowledge or more birds. Don’t worry. The more you learn about your world, the bigger your world gets.
" All good things are wild and free"
*Sukriti Khandelwal is a lifestyle blogger, with a demonstrated history of working in the arts and travel industry. Her interest lies in reading, writing and watching films. Find more of her writings here.