On a fine morning blessed with clear blue skies, about three weeks back, a pandemonium of Rose-ringed Parakeets (Psittacula krameri) descended upon our neighbourhood in all their emerald glory. Swinging on the high-strung cables, our broadband lifeline, the five females and two males started putting in a regular appearance – thrice a day – since then. The shrieking frenzy with their squawking calls created quite a bedlam – a ruckus to the uninitiated, but sweet music to the ornithophile!
Straightaway they upped their nuisance value; poking their large, red, curved beaks into other birds’ businesses – teasing the Common Mynas by scratching at their nests, diving after the pigeons and ruffling the crows’ tail feathers. Only the sparrows were spared – probably as a pity at their petty presence – who took it as a sign of accommodation and began shadowing their newly found, self-anointed big brothers, matching step for step, with reverence and awe.
The only, and serious, unease for the sparrows as well as me was the bird-feeder. The sparrows weren’t in the mood to share their favourite foxtail millet seeds (unaware that the parakeets did not care two bits for these) and I couldn’t replace – or God forbid, mix – these with pearl millet which the parakeets loved! So the ideal solution was found in the procurement of two new feeders for the visiting viridescents – one outside the living room and other the bedroom – filled with crunchy, nutty, pearl millet, and a melange of green chilies and assorted fruit thrown in. And they came – feasting with delight on the goodies!
But little did I know that my troubles were just beginning; for these birds were one cautious lot, more than the sparrows or for that matter any other bird I have fed. How do I chronicle without photographs and how do I photograph those who skitter at the sight of a shadow? Concealing behind curtains with lens pointing, hiding behind corners with only the camera peeping, lying prone flat on the ground under the curtains – nothing worked!
Finally I resigned to the truth that there were no shortcuts to triumph this time, and started off on a familiarisation program. Sitting in plain view of the parakeets, but behind a closed window pane screened by a netting, I could see them gaze cautiously at an ogling me while pecking at their food tentatively. After two weeks of a tenacious struggle, their pecking became more definite while I graduated to only the window pane separating me and the objects of my desire.
And thus stands the situation at present, which the photograph sums up perfectly – suspicious, questioning, vigilant, hesitant, cautious… I see you!
– Narendra Nayak © 2019