Hey guys, welcome back! Remember I had published a blog called ‘The Valley’ around last week and had said that I’ll publish another one continuing the same story? Well, here it is! If you haven’t read the previous one, I recommend you to read that first to feel the story better. You can read it here- https://kswild.video.blog/2019/12/25/the-valley/
Assuming that you are up-to-date, let’s continue with our story. So, where were we? We reached the valley by a 5.30 am bus, waited for the sun, glanced upon the stream and went to my favourite field to witness the most beautiful sunrise. And then we were about to step into the forests of the Valley for an adventure, to lookout for wildlife, for Birding In The Valley.
Birding in dense forests is all about calls and sounds. You can’t see anything except the foliage, yet you hear numerous birds calling. You hear so many birds at the same time that picking up every single call that falls on your ear, distinguishing between them, guessing which bird it might be and then tracking it down is the real challenge. And it’s not just bird calls. Rustling of leaves, footsteps, pecking on the wood, slithering, crawling and anything else that fits under the word ‘sound’. While tracking, leaves look like birds, birds look like leaves, the bird is playing around, jumping from branch to branch, hiding behind the leaves and calling occassionally, thus making things more difficult. This shoots up the excitement, and the happiness when you finally spot the bird is beyond words (also depends on which bird it is, but well :p). It is even more difficult when it’s a ground bird (or an animal), walking on the leaf litter. The location of the bird can be tracked by listening carefully to the crackling of the leaves. But you yourself are standing on the leaf litter, so any movement from your side might just drive the subject away. That’s when patience comes into the picture. You’ve to tactfully trace the subject’s movement and move in that direction keeping in mind other things like whether or not you have something ahead to hide (like a tree, rock etc.), the direction of light (it’s mostly dark deep inside the forest but it does matter sometimes) and other things. This might sound like a five minute task, but it takes a lot more than that, hours sometimes. Any sudden movement from your side and the subject is gone. So you’ve to tip-toe a bit, wait for some time to trace the subject’s movement, check whether or not you can still hear the crackling of the leaves. If not, it might mean that it heard you while you moved and it escaped.
Now when you finally spot the bird/animal you’ve been tracking and start clicking photos, getting good photos deep inside the forest becomes quite difficult due to the lack of light and the dense foliage. Seldom will you see the bird/animal in an open area. Trees, bushes, rocks always make it a point to obstruct your view from time to time. And you cannot change your position much because you’re in the line of sight of the subject and exposing yourself can result in the subject running away. So all this takes a lot of effort and a good presence of mind.Frankly speaking, this is very exciting and to me, this is what true birding or a true wildlife outing is. Doesn’t matter if I don’t get good photos, getting such a lovely on-field experience is all that matters 🙂
These photos above were clicked during one such outing in the forests of The Valley. There were 4-5 ‘Grey Junglefowls’ on the opposite patch of the forest from where I was standing and they seemed to be in a hurry. I could hear crackling of the leaves but didn’t know who it was and thought it was a ‘Barking deer’. I tried to locate it and to my surprise, I saw a small bird running through the leaf litter. Then came four more. Locating them through the finder was difficult as they were far away. Clicked a few photos but couldn’t keep track of one single individual continuously as there were millions of obstructions. When I went through the photos later, I myself couldn’t find the bird in 2-3 photos :p . Got a few records though. Now I know these photos aren’t great, but it’s the experience and the story that makes them so special.
The Valley isn’t just rich in bird life. It has a very diverse flora and fauna. It was one fine day when we just set out to explore the woods, not knowing the trail. We just took some random paths which led us here. This patch of the forest was totally different than what I had seen all the way, it didn’t seem like a continuation of the same forest. The vegetation, the way of growth of the plants seemed somewhat like that of a rainforest whereas these forests are actually deciduous forests. It was magical, like the ones we see in Hollywood movies. We were observing some birds when suddenly we heard loud barks from a close distance behind our backs. Something came running down the mountain slopes, barking loudly. And it wasn’t just one creature, there were two different loud calls in a chorus. I was literally scared to death for a moment as this happened very suddenly. I thought there were two domestic yet wild dogs running down the hill. It was terrifying as such dogs can be dangerous. I immediately turned around and to my surprise, there were two Barking Deer coming down the hill slopes, one of them being a fawn. It was probably the first time I heard the calls of a Barking Deer, precisely living upto the name of the deer. Soon, the Deer disappeared in the woods. Couldn’t get any photos as it was a very short-lived yet a lovely sight.
A Fulvous Forest Skimmer in The Valley
The stories from The Valley can go on and on, there is so much to share! Gonna make one final (probably) blog about the tales from The Valley after this one, maybe in the next week. Stay tuned 🙂
Also, I recorded the drumming sound, or the sound of a woodpecker pecking on a tree bark one morning deep inside the forests of The Valley. Since we talked about the importance of listening to all types of sounds, soft and loud, while birding in forests in order to track the birds and animals, listen to this soft drumming sound to at least get a slight feel of the forests(listen to it closely). We tracked this woodpecker for a long long time by listening to its calls and the drumming sound just to get a glimpse of it at the end. It wasn’t open in our sight for even 5 minutes straight!
I’m not able to upload the video here so I’ve uploaded it on my Drive, click on this link here to listen to the Drumming sounds- https://drive.google.com/open?id=1ALAEwB526ywP–KUYfCSeYdlnP6tjRs6
Record shots of an uncommon woodpecker from my region, Lesser Flameback, at The Valley
This is a 3-part blog and you just read Part 2. You can read Part 1 here, to establish more connection to The Valley-
If you’ve already read it, great, you can move to the next and the final part of this series, to continue your adventures in The Valley-