It’s a Saturday morning in the month of July and I'm still in bed at home in Galle; a township deep down in the south of Sri Lanka…listening to the morning melody of the birds in the garden calling me out of bed… they all seem to say; ‘gone are the rains and sunny days are back.’
This year the monsoon rains were very much on time unlike last year.
Yes I know it’s going to be a bright and sunny day as it’s been a long time since my bedroom wall caught the morning rays that stream through the windowpane. I’m still lazy though when I hear a unfamiliar call….not heard before in our garden and I’m sprung out of bed into the garden looking for my new feathered friend. My guess was right it was the Black-headed Cuckoo Shrike calling high up in the mango tree [Mangifera Indica]… it was a male bird whistling a high pitched, wheep-wheep-wheep while hopping about in the brightly lit canopy
|Black-headed Cuckoo Shrike|
|A riot of yellow - Ehela in bloom|
Happy and content with the new found friend I wonder about in the garden. It’s high activity all around. The parched and dry weather in March-April, that wilted my three Ehela trees [Cassia fistula] forcing them to drop every leaf and bloom out into a riot of yellow is now a deep green. The monsoon rains that followed have triggered off new life into them and are now adorned in new foliage. The Black–hooded Orioles are busy in them staining their black hoods in odd angles looking for grub. The Ehela trees are ready again to host the larvae of the Lemon Emigrant, and the Common Grass Yellow, the two butterflies that prefer the Ehela to lay their eggs. Very soon the fresh foliage will be chewed up by the larvae and the Orioles and the Bul-buls with the Magpie Robins and the Tailor Birds will be feasting on the fattened larvae before they go into pupa.
|A deep green|
There is more activity in the shades among the Anthurium’s I see. Approaching them stealthily I'm almost in touching distance with three fledglings hopping about in the sand calling out to the parents who keep feeding them constantly. My wife Hemamala joins me and inquires as to what they are. “They are Magpie Robin chicks” I say to her disbelief. Yes the chicks have mottled beast feathers that fade away in adulthood. The Magpie Robins have had a successful brood this season with three chicks surviving; thanks we do not have a feline pet with us now.”
|Exploring the surround|
|Magpie Robin chicks with mottled breasts|
Earlier on inside the weep-holes in the stone wall opposite our bathroom fanlight, nested the White-breasted Kingfishers. They too were successful this year as the rat snake that inspects these cavities for cleanliness was a late comer this year. I now see four Kingfishers flying about in the garden.
|The bathroom fanlight a hideout for photography|
This is the cycle of nature that keeps going year round in this little green patch that we maintain around the house in Galle; a 14 perch housing block. What a friendly atmosphere and I get the feeling that all these feathered friends take time off to thank us every summer for helping them keep their progeny alive year round.
|Black- rumped Flameback|
Just as I was about to go into the house, I hear him thanking me in his own special way. Yes the Black-rumped Flameback is on the mango now and is drumming away for me, trur…rrrrrrrrrrrrrr
|Drumming away happily|
Very soon in two months’ time there would be other friends coming over. The Brown Flycatcher, Brown Shrike and the Indian Paradise Flycatcher are regular migrant visitors to our garden. They have an annual reservation in the Mango the Biling [Arerrhoa bilimbi] and the Kathuru-murunga trees. [Sesbenia grandiflora]
|Indian Paradise Fly-catcher|
But this year I'm reluctant to provide all of them with a regular service that I continued all year-round before. Our birdbath will only be filled again once the local authorities have completed their inspections on mosquito breeding sites; a precautionary procedure to arrest the spread of dengue.