Nature’s Wonders ...

It is a distinctive sound not too unlike the snapping of twigs and maybe a little like water dripping from the eaves of the house and exploding upon impact with the earth below.  You know it when you hear it but directionality is lost by the distance the crackling sound covers.  If it is loud enough to be heard then it is close enough to be seen in the distance.  In my experience up to a kilometer away if there is nothing to block the sound.  A plume of smoke rises sometimes to be cut short on its climb and dragged off in one direction or another like the tail of a serpent.  Other times it rises relentlessly skyward carrying a payload of ash that later settles on surfaces far away.  We are often blanketed by this black snow of enormous yet delicate flakes.  If left undisturbed they linger for a while on the surface of the pond or elsewhere before their fragile form collapses.

A quick scan of the horizon yesterday and I was able to see more than forty straw mounds that will no doubt be set ablaze over the next month or so.  That of course does not include the fields themselves which are often burned as well.  As I watch more fires being set today, surprisingly the sky is relatively clear and the distant mountains still visible.  My attention is easily diverted by the birds in our area.  There have been some new additions to the ranks of regular visitors as well as seasonal returnees and perennial favorites like the Pied Harrier, floating effortlessly above the fresh cut stubble of the rice fields. 

Off the top of my head we see regularly, Sparrows, Mynas, Doves, Bulbul, Wagtail and Pied Bushchat.  There are Egret in the fields, Kingfishers perusing our pond and Kites hovering in the evening sky.  Drongo are a recent addition as they have taken to perching on our power lines and capturing the bugs attracted to our streetlights.  Coucal and Bluebirds are sometimes seen on my evening run but not around the house.  At times our roof is covered with birds that are either Swallows, Swifts or Martin, perhaps even a combination of breeds as I can’t tell the difference.  Their movement through the air and over the pond as a group is mesmerizing to watch.

I have always noticed a couple of bats silhouetted against the muted colors of the evening sky after sunset but their numbers seem to have increased.  Recently, sitting on the driveway with Cookie after an evening run, I spotted movement over my left shoulder.  At first I was uncertain what it was but in bursts of two or three, bats were launching themselves from the end of one of our streetlights.  I counted eight that day and was surprised that they could squeeze into that long narrow space between the flat plate the lights are mounted on and the rounded housing that is connected to the concrete pole.

Searching through photos old and new I found these four shots taken with roughly the same perspective, showing how our view changes from season to season.  Hopefully when we get back from Pai, I will have something new to share.