Thursday, November 7, 2013

The confused quack

"I was just thinking of you!" or "You were missed!" are often delightful words to hear, right? Lately, I am hearing the same a lot... and yet, I am confused if that is really a compliment. I'll tell you why.

After joining IIM Indore in June 2010, I started a series of nature walks on this 200-acre semi-wild campus and started a bird-watching initiation workshop in 2012. Between 2012 and 2013, in some fine moment of madness, I started clicking and sharing the trees, herbs, plants, shrubs, spiders, moths, butterflies, insects, snakes, foxes, hares, and in short, every creature other than the despicable humans. And as it happens in a small community of about 2000 people, I got a reputation of all things nature now.

So few days back, as I was whiling away a perfect siesta-worthy afternoon in chasing a fantail with my camera, I heard the same words. "I was just thinking of you!" said my nature-enthusiastic nice neighbor. And I was presented with this to click:

Its a pair of (presumably) some close relative of ladybug with 12 of their eggs. It was an amazing catch and a magnificent site, specially because the naked eye could make out that there is something inside those eggs. 

Similarly, on a tired Sunday evening, I got a call from a friendly student. There was a large bird on the floor of the hostel, not able to walk or breath. By the time I could cover the distance, I got another call that the poor soul has left the world. I anyways reached the spot. It was a female of an Indian cuckoo. There was no mark of injury or age, so it must have been a stroke at the wrong time. After some thought, we ended the evening with a decent burial.

I got yet another call on busy office Wednesday noon last week. I was told that, near the medical center, there is a very small and beautiful bird, which is injured or something, and hence, not able to fly or even move. Looking at the pile of work, I decided to miss it this time. Not only because there were urgent things to do but also because I know that I am no better than a quack, when it comes to doctoring the wildlife. Anyhow, I decided that the work may wait for some more time and I need to see, if I can really do anything for a bird's life.

As I locked my office and rushed to the spot, I found four people surrounding and trying to nurse an injured Coppersmith Barbet. I quickly dispersed the crowd, which would have been making the poor Barbet even more nervous. Finally, with the help of a student, I managed to inspect the body and we found a bruise in the belly. We put some soframycin on that first. Then we checked wikipedia for the diet of a Barbet. Its favorite banyan berries are not sold in human markets, so we looked around for the next closest thing. We tried some banana pulp but it didn't eat any.

After making sure that all I could do is done, I left the spot with the Barbet on a high pedestal with some water and banana pulp. It survived the day with signs of improvement - better and stronger movement but still no flight. Sadly, the next day, it left for the other world, leaving only some beautiful pictures with us.

I really hate getting those nursing calls now - I know I am good for nothing in such cases. But for others, I am the only one to know that that small, beautiful, injured bird was a barbet. I guess, I will keep getting the calls. Better I start learning yet another trait. May be, I will share a rescue story next time, where I actually rescued the bird and it flew away to glory. And at the same time, I wish there is no next time to see an injured bird. 

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