It’s another beautiful Sunday and I was high with inspiration and enthusiasm. My previous day had left me mesmerised and the reason was a zillion pictures I had watched on Flick and Instagram. These images were of birds I never knew had existed, of reptiles of different colours and sizes, and of animals that looked so close and real. I never imagined myself getting thrilled at admiring a stranger’s work and then possibly attempting to comprehend what it feels like to capture or document these magnificent creatures.
It was 11 A.M. and I had switched on my hunting eyes and kept an open mind. I wandered through the green environment for a good hour and noticed a shy acquaintance once again. We had a history. Though I had seen her (assuming) few times, I never really saw her. I didn’t know the colour of her eyes, her skin texture, her feet structure or how she even looked from behind. Forget, I didn’t know her exact name so I renamed her as ‘Serendipity’, the water bird.
After few rounds of hide and seek, through sheer luck we were now close but not near enough for me to get a clear picture. While I kept speeding my ached feet to sync with her who was busy frolicking in the water and stalking her next meal, I stumbled into a commotion. A group of boys were busy hooting and taping a cast of hawks busy in their lunch party. It was the first time I witnessed a bird diving into the water to grab a fresh bite. After being lost in the action for a few seconds, I realised that I got off track. I had to make a choice – the hawks or Serendipity. It was a race against time and I noticed she was moving farther away. I could either let her slide this time and go home disappointed after all that walking and intermittent running or keep up. So I ran and ran faster till I was within a good distance. I didn’t want to get too close to scare her as well as stay away to miss her. In between the time spent with her throughout the day, I managed to click some of her neighbours who were eyeing their next schedule. Stalking Serendipity for the day was worthwhile and since then, I have managed to get better pictures of her but I am going to share my initial attempts first.
And yes, Serendipity is a Spot Billed Pelican!
A little about her: Classified as ‘Near Threatened’ in the 2007 IUCN Red List, this beauty is now confined to India, Sri Lanka and Cambodia. It is a relatively small bird with a large bill (a characteristic of many water birds). It is mainly white, with a grey crest, hind neck and a brownish tail. The feathers on the hind neck are curly and form a greyish nape crest. The throat pouch is pink to purplish and has large pale spots, and is also spotted on the sides of the upper mandible. They use the pouch to scoop up food mainly fish from the water surface. The tip of the bill (or nail) is yellow orange. They are known to typically breed between October to May and often nest on trees near water bodies such as rivers, streams, lakes and ponds.