The Ficus tree at Kshitij adjoining the IITB Hospital was abuzz with activity. The Coppersmith Barbet, Mumbai’s official City Bird, rang out its tuk tuk tuk tuk call as it bobbed its head from side to side. Not far away, a male Oriental Magpie-Robin sang uninterrupted, its attention focused entirely on the female close by. The male followed his mate from branch to branch with a string of persuasive, imploring notes, sometimes choosing the highest vantage point for a perfect delivery.
On the same tree, the migrant Red-breasted Flycatcher let out a loud and crisp trrrt as it made volleys from its perch. The dazzling yellow of the Indian Golden Oriole glinted in the sunrays, like a piece of jewelry hanging from the tree. The golden bird was busy spinning melodies that swung between a churrr and sweet whistle.
The tuwi tuwi tuwi notes of the Common Tailorbird pierced through the air adding to the ‘Oh I cannot rest’ look of the bird as it ascended the branches in a seeming hurry. Somewhere deep in the branches of a tree close by, the skulker White-browed Bulbul gave out its typical garbled call, announcing its presence that most often is heard but not seen.
The Chestnut-tailed Starlings sat in a line on the sun-filled bare branch jutting from the tree. They looked funny, moving their head in unison from left to right. Just then a male Indian Paradise-Flycatcher sashayed its way through the branches below.
I was about to bid goodbye to this stage bursting with melody and spectacle, when a flash of green and brown dashed by my eyes, melting into the Soneri Baug woods. It was the super-shy Common Emerald Dove, my bonus that morning.
IITB, with its habitats ranging from marsh and grassland to scrub, wooded and manicured gardens, hosts a good number of resident birds like Bronze-winged Jacana and Grey-headed Swamphen, locally migratory like Yellow-footed Green-Pigeon and Indian Blackbird, and long-distance travelers like Common Grasshopper-Warbler and Red-throated Flycatcher. eBird lists it as a Hotspot with 199 birds recorded so far.
What’s more? One does not even have to travel to Sanjay Gandhi National Park to encounter the Sahyadri Sunbird. A patient wait at Kshitji is all it takes to catch a glimpse of the flaming throat flit by.
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