Yellow Cattle!

Sunday mornings of late are devoted to a stroll, camera at the ready, through the untrodden paths within the Aarey Forest in suburban Mumbai. At the far end of the path downhill from New Zealand Hostel is a tiny pond which remains slushy at this time of the year, trying to manage with an insufficient supply of water from some depleted underground source. Besides a handful of tadpoles and guppies, and some hopeful pond herons, there is rarely any excitement seen around this water body. Yesterday though, I was pleasantly surprised to see small congregations of egrets plodding through the grey waters. The feeling turned to delight and I suddenly felt nostalgic when I saw that there were two species of egrets, the Cattle Egret and the Little Egret.

The memories of those early days of my initiation into birding, nearly forty years ago, suddenly came flooding back. Those were the days of reluctantly heading to school at the crack of dawn, the only incentive being the pond opposite the school playground which, with its profusion of water hyacinth, eichhornia and pistia, was a hot spot for both these species of birds.

And the only way for that young fresher to distinguish which was which, was that the Cattle Egret had a yellow beak and the Little Egret a black beak. And the mnemonic that I made up to remember it was “yellow cattle”, and believe me, the wild imagination of a mooing cow with a nodding, yellow head still occupies a tiny niche in my ancient grey cells!

[Caught in a single frame: Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis) and Little Egret (Egretta garzetta); both non-breeding adults; Aarey Forest, Mumbai]

– Narendra Nayak Β© 2019

14 thoughts on “Yellow Cattle!

    1. They were life savers during the school days, those mnemonics, I tell you! And even at college, I made up so many for my Chemistry and Botany notes that I still remember several of those and throw them at my son at random. πŸ˜„

      Thank you so much, R, for reading this piece of nostalgia; felt good sharing it with you! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  1. A nostalgic post. our childhood impression and memories. last year i went on a trek to National Park and realised the true treasure. Sometimes we need to look at our own backyard with a different perspective

    Liked by 2 people

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