Fly-bys flock to India

Feeding birds in Kerala

Lesser Sand Plover, Kentish Plover, Grey Plover, Common Sandpiper, Curlew Sandpiper, Ruddy Turnstone and Whimbrel seen at Ezhara Beach, Kerala 21 November 2014

Grey Plover, Kerala

Grey Plover, Kerala

‘You’ve probably seen the Grey Plover (Pluvialis squatarola) and not paid it any attention. Singly or in little flocks, these little birds stroll on sandy beaches looking for tiny nibbles in the sand. Every winter, they arrive in droves to the coast of Kerala…’

 Text and image at


Ringed plover by a water’s edge

They sprint eight feet and –

stop. Like that. They

sprintayard (like that) and


They have no acceleration

and no brakes.

Top speed’s their only one.

They’re alive – put life

through a burning-glass, they’re

its focus – but they share

the world of delicate clockwork.

In spasmodic

Indian file

they parallel the parallel ripples.

When they stop

they, suddenly,

are gravel.

by Norman MacCaig

Fishing people in Kerala


 Image at

Watch traditional fishing in Kerala


Nightflights in Mussoorie

Moths migrate along mountains:

Death's-head Hawkmoth in Mussoorie

Death’s-head Hawkmoth in Mussoorie

Photo by Peter Smetacek

Markers of climate change:

Almost eighty years after the first hawkmoth survey in Mussoorie, a second seeks to compare information. Lepidopterist Peter Semtacek wonders if warmer, wetter winters – which mean moister soil for the moths’ pupation period – are enabling moths to migrate west along the Himalayan foothills.

Read more at and

Listen and watch Peter’s TedX talk at

smetacek roof of world

Butterflies on the Roof of the World, Peter Smetacek, Aleph Books 2012

the lesson of the moth

i was talking to a moth
the other evening
he was trying to break into
an electric light bulb
and fry himself on the wires

why do you fellows
pull this stunt i asked him
because it is the conventional
thing for moths or why
if that had been an uncovered
candle instead of an electric
light bulb you would
now be a small unsightly cinder
have you no sense

plenty of it he answered
but at times we get tired
of using it
we get bored with the routine
and crave beauty
and excitement
fire is beautiful
and we know that if we get
too close it will kill us
but what does that matter
it is better to be happy
for a moment
and be burned up with beauty
than to live a long time
and be bored all the while
so we wad all our life up
into one little roll
and then we shoot the roll
that is what life is for
it is better to be a part of beauty
for one instant and then cease to
exist than to exist forever
and never be a part of beauty
our attitude toward life
is come easy go easy
we are like human beings
used to be before they became
too civilized to enjoy themselves

and before i could argue him
out of his philosophy
he went and immolated himself
on a patent cigar lighter
i do not agree with him
myself i would rather have
half the happiness and twice
the longevity

but at the same time i wish
there was something i wanted
as badly as he wanted to fry himself

by Don Marquis (1878-1937)

Listen to the poem:

Flightpaths in the foothills

Flightpathproject is in India, heading up into the foothills of the Himalayas as winter altitudinal migrants head down:

transcend topography

by Nawang Norbu & Sherub; see


Early birds:

Maroon oriole

Maroon oriole

In early November, an early Maroon oriole in Landour, Uttarakhand.

Image at

Even earlier birds:

Hume's Nests and Eggs of Indian Birds

Hume’s Nests and Eggs of Indian Birds, 2nd edition, 1889

For more about this extraordinary Victorian ornithologist:

Image of the volumes is courtesy of the equally extraordinary Maria Brothers, booksellers since 1946 in Shimla, Himachal Pradesh

Maria Brothers Booksellers

Maria Brothers Booksellers

To hear an Oriole sing

To hear an Oriole sing
May be a common thing—
Or only a divine.

It is not of the Bird
Who sings the same, unheard,
As unto Crowd—

The Fashion of the Ear
Attireth that it hear
In Dun, or fair—

So whether it be Rune,
Or whether it be none
Is of within.

The “Tune is in the Tree—”
The Skeptic—showeth me—
“No Sir! In Thee!”

by Emily Dickinson