Unexpected flashes of brilliant blue

An old picture from an old trip. A calm day, a duck gliding over the water at Karanji Lake, Mysore. I was watching it, feeling relaxed. I often find photographing birds very soothing, and so I took a couple of shots.

It was through the camera that I saw the duck flap its wings in preparation for a dive, and with it, an unexpected flash of blue. I clicked in time to catch it, and then stared at the picture I’d captured, sure I’d been mistaken. But then I turned and saw the duck, and yes, under that white and grey was a brilliant blue.

It was such a cheerful, unexpected blue that it brightened up my day.

And this time, when the duck folded back its wings, a band of blue remained visible, making me wonder whether the blue had been there earlier, too, and whether I’d just missed it. I stood there for a while, savoring the treat. Looking at the pictures, I relive that treat.

duck with flash of blueduck with flash of blueduck folded wings showing band of blue

One can see a message of optimism there, I guess. For me, it is such unexpected magic that I think of when life seems ho-hum.

An excellent trip to Mysore Zoo

I’ve seen zoos when I was a kid, and also when I was taking my son around. Usually I find them somewhat interesting for the first hour or so, after which my focus shifts to finding the way out. Animals don’t always pose well enough, the enclosures smell, the write-ups are faded and unreadable, and often describing a different animal from the one in the enclosure. I therefore assumed that visiting zoos as an adult would be quite foolish.

Then someone told me that Mysore zoo is the best in India, and I thought, here I am, in Mysore, let me give it a try. I was surprised at how enjoyable the trip was. I found the zoo well-planned and clean, the explanations outside the enclosure informative and written in an interesting way, and the entire path through the zoo clearly marked.

For example, I saw a sign that explained that giraffes were fed by placing leaves on tall poles in their enclosure so that they could feed themselves in the same way as they would eat leaves off trees in their natural habitat. Oh! I must have seen giraffes in just about every zoo I’ve visited since childhood, but I’d never noticed this before 🙂 I also saw a tapir, which is a highly endangered species (Wikipedia page on Tapir).

giraffe feeding in Mysore zooTapir in Mysore zoo

The zoo was remarkable also because there was, to my delight, no litter. I didn’t see any person (child or adult) misbehave with the animals. I even managed to catch some animals on my camera to save the memories.

A very good feature of the zoo was (maybe all zoos do it now) that it encouraged the public to adopt an animal, that is, participate in the upkeep of an animal of your choice by paying a fee. In front of many enclosures, there were signs giving the names of the persons who had paid for maintenance of the animals inside, along with the start and end date, and some of the names listed were celebrities and public figures. I thought that was a really cool idea (though I didn’t find out more details); if you are a lover of wild-life and want to contribute, you can probably get the details from the zoo authorities. The zoo (more formally known as Shri Chamrajendra Zoological Gardens) has a website at mysorezoo.info which includes inventory of animals and galleries of pictures 🙂 (this site seems to be having some problems)

Morning greetings from spotted owlets

In Mysore, there’s a tree I pass on my morning walks, and it is a tired-looking gnarled tree with a rather dark and big tree hollow. I have found a pair of spotted owlets on the dried branches. They stare down at me with their wise eyes. It’s a great way to start a day.

I first spotted them some days ago. I stopped and watched them for a while, and they looked back solemnly. Fellow morning walkers saw I was staring at a tree and they stopped too, and peered and spotted the owlets. For some time after that, everyone was just watching them, either silently or discussing owls and other birds they had seen, and the presence of the owlets united us all in our admiration. Then others walked away, and so did I.

But I stop near that tree often now, hoping to see the owls. If I am carrying my camera, I sometimes try to capture the moment to savor it later. The owlets don’t fly away if I try to take a picture, but their colors match the surrounding branches and twigs so well that the picture I get is often more like a “spot the spotted owlet” puzzle contest rather than a clear, identifiable mugshot. I haven’t yet managed to get both of them in a single frame because once I zoom the camera forclarity, one owlet gets zoomed out 🙂

Here’s the tree:

tree where spotted owlets liveis this the home of the spotted owlets

And the owlet (difficult to spot in some of them 🙂 :

spotted owletspotted owletowlet difficult to spot because of the treeowlet difficult to spot because of the treeback view of owl

(If you are interested in birds, here’s the wikipedia page on spotted owlets.