Monday, June 15, 2015

A Drunken Piper in my Garden

Just nearing 60 my sight needs +2.75 enhancement but for my hearing is still sharp.

Saturday mornings are usually lazy and while still in bed I hear a very humanistic whistle out in the garden……the notes keep repeating as if the performer is lost for the last note.

My sharp hearing and my inbuilt bird vocal memory bank  tells me of a very unusual visitor in my home garden.

We have a new feathered friend out there…….. An excellent Piper but a very drunken one.

White-browed Fantail – Drunken Piper

The White–browed Fantail is so named for its behavior in catching flying insects on the wing. This graceful bird is fearless of man and perpetually show off its elevated tail made into a beautiful fan and drooping its wings while spinning about in the most awkward angular gyrations that only a drunken human would be able to perform. It’s got a very human sounding whistle with about seven to eight notes forming a charming tune that is very often left unfinished.

The specialty of it is that it visiting my home garden in Galle, and this is the very first time that this bird is recorded over here.

G M Heny in his book ‘A guide to the Birds of Ceylon’ narrates of it being very common in most parts of Uva Province up to 5000 feet and in the Eastern Province while also in localized spots in the Central and Sabaragamuwa Provinces.

In the south it is noted in the drier eastern parts of the Southern Province. Galle located in the most western part of the Southern Province and the wettest for that, hints of its migratory behavior when conditions are right.

This period over here in Galle is the wettest months when the South-East Monsoon is most active. This year though the monsoon has failed and dry weather prevails. The regular migratory fly-catchers….. the Indian Paradise and the Asian Brown has already left for home grounds in India in late April….. and the larder of insects seem to be going a begging with the rains not in this year.

Opportunity makes a thief they say…………like wise it could be that the White-browed Fantail is also making this westerly migration when the conditions are right.

I will keep my eyes and ears open during the next failed monsoon to see if he comes back one more time proving his migratory habit.

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