Thursday, 9 February 2012

At home in India again

7th and 8thFebruary
Two long days of travel. The only birding was from a transfer bus at Mumbai airport – rock pigeons (wild ones), the black-eared subspecies of black kite, house crows, a house sparrow, dusky crag martins and cattle egrets – and, after dark as I arrived, the garrulous roost of common mynas and Asian pied starlings in ashok trees outside the domestic terminal in Kolkata.
Before we get too stuck in to Indian birding, a necessary note on names, in case anyone is fool enough to be taking this list of mine seriously: I will (largely) be following the taxonomy used by Grimmett and Inskipp, even though theirs isn’t my favourite of the books and were I using Pamela Rasmussen’s taxonomy my list would end up far longer. The reasons I choose to use Grimmett and Inskipp are twofold. The first is that this is the book brought to India by the great majority of my birdy clients and life is simpler by far if we are all, quite literally, on the same page. The second, hugely more important, reason is that the authors and their publishers have laudably striven for their guide to be available cheaply and in various translations across the Subcontinent. As a result of their impressive commitment to their book being used by South Asians for conservation, it is the universal yardstick for birding here. These glorious birds of India, much though I love them, are loved more closely and more deeply by my Indian friends, and who am I to tell them we should be using different taxonomy when they have faithfully learned all the names in English (very often their third language) in the one book which is available to them? 

Delicious dinner this evening and a welcoming place to stay in the home of my delightful Bengali friends Sujan, Arpita and Torsa. These Bengalis certainly know how to cook: sweet yellow dal and delicately-spiced green papaya. At home in India again.

House crows give their gull-like calls in the night sky as I write. Twenty-four hours without sleep; it’s time I did.

This is not like any other place. This is India. Everyone who comes here falls in love – most of us fall in love many times over. And the Indians, they love most of all.

Gregory David Roberts


(wild) rock dove
Columba livia
black-eared kite
Milvus migrans lineatus
house crow
Corvus splendens
dusky crag martin
Ptyonoprogne concolor
cattle egret
Bubulcus ibis
common myna
Acridotheres tristis
Asian pied starling
Gracupica contra

2012 totals
Mammals 10
Birds 126
Reptiles 0
Amphibians 0
Fish 0

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