The sound of the rain falling on the leaves of the shrubs outside my window, illuminated by the moonlight. Fireflies flashing their light in patterns as they fly around the Lantana shrubs. These are the moments among many others as I spend most of the time at my house in July observing nature around me. As the infection rate fluctuates staying home was a better option and exploring the surrounding was the thing to do.
Songbirds were singing their heart out and the Oriental Magpie was leading the tally as the morning would start with their songs. As the day progressed the Rose-ringed Parakeet would do the usual shrill screeching noise as they flew over the house heading out to their feeding grounds. The afternoon would be signaled by the songs of the Common Tailorbird mixed with the occasional songs from the Oriental White-eye.
Common Myna would be around most of the day along with the Red-vented Bulbul moving around the Lantana shrub and the Utis tree nearby. The Spotted Dove also seemed to be a resident as it stays around the Bakena tree (Persian lilac) all day and coos with its usual tone of “coo-a-roooo”.
Spotting birds has been fun as I work from my desk and look outside the window frequently. A flock of Chestnut-tailed Starlings foraging around the Lantana shrubs was a surprise as it was the first time I saw them around here. The other surprise was spotting a female Eurasian Golden Oriole but missed documenting it. Looking carefully through the bush I spot a Garden Lizard in its breeding colors trying to bask in the monsoon sun.
July brought in another surprise for me as on the morning of the 27th my sister noticed an unusual shape on top of a fence post. As I went to the window to investigate, the unusual shape turned out to be a roosting Grey Nightjar. An unusual place to roost and an unusual bird to be seen out of nowhere and that also in broad daylight. My experience with Nightjars was only from Chitwan when I was able to spot the Savanna Nightjar and hear the Long-tailed Nightjar calls during the night. I had to document this sighting.
Nightjars are nocturnal or, crepuscular birds and are rarely spotted in their habitat due to their well-camouflaged plumage color. I was super excited to see a Nightjar, that suddenly was outside my window. The documenting of the bird started as I thought it would fly away anytime soon. Well, that anytime soon stretched to the evening as the Nightjar would only move around the fence within a meter distance throughout the day and sleep. Quite a day it was.
I hadn’t been outside birding or inside a forest for a long time so it was time to take in the forest through my senses. Also called “Shinrin-yoku” in Japanese with a literal translation meaning forest bathing the experience helps calm my senses, inspires, and lets me focus on the work I do.
Being on the narrow valley near the temple the songs of the birds was welcoming. Silently walking down the path, I noticed a couple of Grey Treepie taking turns searching for insects in the cornfield while the other sat on the tree nearby. Further up on a Pear Tree (Naspati) a Great Barbet was busy feeding itself with the fruit from the tree.
Further up on the trail I spotted two Yellow-throated Martens climbing away from the trail towards the bush nearby. As the technical problem in the camera stopped me from documenting the mammal, observing it move around was exciting.
The deep Coop…Coop… Coop call from the Greater Coucal resonated in the Utis jungle alongside the occasional Kut..oo…ruk call by the Blue-throated Barbet. Heading deep into the jungle the Barbet’s nest could be spotted high above the tree trunk. Nearby the Blue-throated Barbet was perching on a branch after a successful hunt.
Black-lored Tits could be seen hopping around the branches of the Utis tree. Down below near the stream a couple of Rusty-cheeked Scimitar Babblers were silently foraging near Angel’s trumpet plant.
With all the excitement of finally going birding, I had made a mistake. Mosquitos gathered around me and started having a field day as I regretted the decision of wearing shorts to the jungle. Leaning down to photograph the wild mushrooms resulted in an assault. Swatting would get me a couple of mosquitoes but they just didn’t seem to go away. Defeated I kept on walking only to stop once in a while to scratch the itchy legs and also take some macro photographs of the plants. Lesson learned.
The summary of the sightings in July 2021.
Birds: Chestnut-tailed Starling, Common Myna, Cattle Egret, Rusty-cheeked Scimitar Babbler, Red-vented Bulbul, Grey Nightjar, Black Kite, White-eye, Common Tailorbird, Grey Treepie, Black-lored Tit, Oriental Magpie Robin, Barbet, Blue-throated Barbet, Great Barbet, etc.
Cuckoo bee, Great Mormon butterfly, Dark palm dart, Orb-weaver spider, Spiny Orb-weaver Spider, Caterpillars, Bumblebee, Carpenter bee, Sweat bee.
Small Indian Mongoose, Yellow-throated Marten.
Angel’s trumpet, Knotweed, Utis, Pear Tree (Naspati), Lantana, Persian lilac, etc.
July was a usual month of nothing extraordinary, just nature at its best. Insect pollinators like butterflies, bees were busy in their usual rituals. The monsoon foliage allowed the Orb-weaver spiders additional support to construct their webs and was popping up everywhere. Beetles were busy at their usual work like the ladybugs feeding on aphids or, being providers for bigger species of animals.
Trees and shrubs were bearing fruits that were being enjoyed by the animals. Birds were busy searching for insects for their chicks. Surprisingly I found out that there was an Oriental Magpie Robin’s nest just above my workroom. More about that in August’s “What I saw” segment.
The natural diversity of Kathmandu is a blessing and hoping it stays this way.
Thank you so much for following the blog and commenting on the posts. Looking forward to seeing what August holds for me. Wishing you all a very good month ahead. Take care.
Ajay Narsingh Rana