Monday, August 30, 2010

The eggs have hatched

Hi this is me one of the three kids of Choti chidiya, and that is my picture you see there below.

Aha this is life, just get up in the morning and go on eating till it is sunset. In fact we are fed 3 to 4 times in an hour (that works out to be every 15 to 20 minutes) One of  the reasons why Papa too chips in to feed us. 
For you humans, home is a warm and safe environment. For us birds, the nest can be a dangerous place. Predators can attack the whole brood leaving an unsuccessful nesting season. That could be the reason why mama is in a hurry to see us grow up fast and fly off.
There you can see us being fed. After putting the morsel in our mouth (turn by turn) she picks up our droppings and flies off to deposit them out side the nest. (that way the nest is always clean)

But this place is pretty cool. The humans around here are pretty friendly. Curious yes but they mean no harm. We are three siblings. Actually we were a bit doubtful about the third one. We both came out almost at the same time but the third one was still in her egg and mama hen (the one whom you call choti chidiya) did not give up and there she hatched the next day.
In fact Mr H (Haddock) does have a photograph of us when the third one was still in the shell. But I don’t want you to have a look at that photograph as we don’t look very pretty in it. In fact I should say we look ugly, no feathers, tiny wings, eyes closed (huge eye balls, compared to the body size) yuck !! Those huge eye balls means one thing, that the size of our eyes are fully formed when we are born.
Here comes mama with more insects.

We prefer insects, but some times she gets petals or small flower buds. I have seen mama drinking nectar from the flowers. I am waiting to do the same. Sometimes she gets these yellow pieces of crumbs, can’t figure out what it is, but she knows best what is good and nourishing for us. 

 Did you see that look? That is intimidation. (not the picture above but the ones below)
One does not have to be a Dr Salim Ali to learn our body language.  Like when we want to intimidate, we look straight, both eyes and beak pointed at the bird or person. This was a look that was directed at Mr H to say “scram, move back or I attack” 

If that does not scare you how about this ?
Hey what is that sound? I can see that Mama is also alert. She says its not a familiar sound. Yes it is a bird call, but not one heard in these surroundings. I can see that Mr H is also out with his camera. He says it looks like a Hornbill and is surprised to see a Hornbill in this area. Looks like he got some shots of the bird.

Another dawn, another day. Its raining today. But its nice to see the humans go about with their daily routine. There comes Mr H with his camera. Mama & Papa are getting more protective. They are trying to shoo him away. Hey look at that. This is something worth watching.

Mama is going for the ground attack while Papa is giving  the aerial support from the clothesline. (we birds seldom sit on the floor so I am surprised that Mama is sitting on that hard tile) 

Any way Mr H has backed away.

He did take some night shots of us from far. This is how mama sits with us when it is not feeding time.

I wonder if I could make an entry in the Guiness Book of records about our mama and papa as the most photographed Bulbul couple in the world.
Mr H tried a lot to get both of them in the same frame (a difficult task) Aha  finally a good one

 (frolicking around the papaya tree?)

Hey why is mama looking down? Is it time for us to fly? Is she gauging the depth (in case we have a fall) 

For those who missed the earlier part where we were yet to be hatched, it is in the post called Choti Chidiya as narrated by mama.
I wonder if Mr H will be able to capture us in the process of flying off. If he does then there will be a further sequel to this (and may be in that sequel you will get to see our yuck pictures)

That is mama trying to figure out who is behind the camera.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


I usually don’t write movie reviews, but after a long time, I got to see a good and well made Hindi movie.
That is the best statement I could make for a movie like this.

In fact I was not keen on going for this movie. My wife is a big time fan of Aamir Khan so I agreed to go along. When I booked the tickets in the morning for  Sunday (last show) I was surprised to see that none of the seats were taken. (At the actual screening only 30 seats were occupied)

What is a good film? It is a combination of good direction, good editing and a good story (in that order) and this film has all the three in the right order.

Anusha Rizvi has done an excellent job in directing the whole thing, and it is evident that it was done with real passion. 

I just can’t believe that she wrapped up the complete shooting in 64 days. (heard that she had to take a break of 3 months for some legal problem)

 She has already won the award for the best first film at the Durban Film Festival.

(This movie will be released in UK today)

Some of the scenes are real hard hitting, like the old man who keeps digging and digging, just to make about 20 to 30 rupees per day (and finally that pit turns out to be his grave) 

Or the old lady who is bed ridden and just waits to have a swig from who ever is ready to give her a bidi.

Naseerudhin Shah was there for a short appearance and as usual just sailed through his small role.

Some where along the way I realized that I was laughing through out the movie, and I also realized that I was laughing at the state of our country.

Hope the movie pundits send this as the Indian entry for the Foreign Language Film at the Academy  Awards.


As for cinematography, it was well handled except for the last part where the camera's fast movement to the city was a bit jarring to the eyes. 

And finally I should say that if this lady (Anusha Rizvi) does not get the best director’s award this year then I may have to proclaim that I will have to commit suicide. 

Kudos to Aamir Khan for having the courage to  produce this movie.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Choti Chidiya

Hi there I am Choti Chidiya. Yes that is my picture you see there below. Don’t I look pretty ? Well that is what the people in this household say. 

I am new to this place. In fact I was looking for a place to build my nest and lay the eggs and this thick foliage of the money plant looked like a perfect place for it. I understand that one of my cousins made a bid to build a nest (just three meters away) but I presume the ovulation did not take place. Yeah we birds too have our problems.

You can see her in the photograph above, the nest is on the left and she is on the right. Well that was two months ago.
From the time I started building my nest, there is this man from the house who has been taking a special interest in my proceedings (lets call him Mr Haddock or Mr H in short) 
I found that he has been constantly observing me to see how I am building the nest and what material I am using. He was fascinated by the way I tied the edge of the nest to the vine. We have to be very careful, after all we don’t want the whole thing to just fly away with some strong wind. We even make our nest semi porous, in case water gets in, it has to drain out quickly. Then the bed of the nest has to be almost flat (and not concave) so that all the eggs get equal amount of heat while I sit on the clutch.
While I was building the nest, my partner was always around, keeping me company, helping me in getting the soft twigs, giving me alarm calls when any one came close to the nest. But now a days he is not to be seen. Looks like he too is not perturbed and has left me in the care of Mr H and family. Hope he will turn up once the eggs hatch.  (I need a helping hand for feeding)
Finally the day has arrived and I have completed laying my three eggs. It was at the rate of one per day. But I don’t sit on them till all three are laid, otherwise there would be unequal heating resulting in unequal hatching and that is going to cause some unruly behavior in the nest when the kids are out. I could have laid more eggs but giving equal heat and hatching them would have been a problem.

There you can see the three cuties. Don’t you love the colour of them? I mean the colour of the shell? Ahem, Mr H is getting bolder. I know he clicked this when I went out for my morning ablutions. Well we don’t exactly brush our teeth and wash the face in the morning, but once its dawn it is nice to fly out and stretch your legs, I mean wings, and catch some fresh insects and be back within five minutes or so. And daily when I am back I see Mr H with his camera clicking away. I know he means no harm, so I allow him to finish his session.
Today I observed Mrs H with her camera trying to click me in the nest. (how many cameras do they have?)  In fact it was she who christened me as Choti Chidiya. I am actually the Red Vented Bulbul. 
Usually we build the nest higher. Lucky for them that I build my nest at 5 ft from the ground level. At this height all of them can have a peek whenever they want. There are reasons why we build our nests high. Imagine if mine was at ground level, and when the eggs hatch, the little ones would just step out and start walking around and for the rest of their lives they would be just walking around. So when its at a high level, at the right time we just shove them out and they have to spread their wings to avoid a fall and that’s it . . . . . they just soar away. And from then on they are on their own catching insects and fending for themselves. Life is pretty simple with us. 
Ok now I see the Grandpa and Grandma moving around in the garden plucking some leaves here, straightening that plant there. When they come close to my nest they are extra cautious, not to disturb me. After that they settle down in their easy chair.
Oh then there is this extra tall guy (must be Mr H’s son) He too comes and peeks but from a respectful distance. Most of the time I see him dashing in and out of the terrace with a football and shin guard and stockings and what not. Must be a football player.

From my nest I can see them sitting relaxed on the terrace. Mrs H is busy cleaning fish. They all like fish, especially sea food.  
Now a days they are strictly avoiding fish. Not that they are turning vegetarian, but just a precautionary measure. With all that oil floating around in the Arabian Sea no one wants to take a chance.
Grandpa is reading something from a small book, looks like the Reader’s Digest. He is explaining to Grandma something about guns and the US. He says that a platoon of US soldiers ambushed a group of Taliban fighters and later when they recovered the ammo they found that the Taliban were using US made artillery !!  This sounds interesting. Must have a closer look at that Digest. (with my light weight body, I can hover around any where)

That gun looks funny.  But why do they make guns?  to kill each other ?   for what ?  All this is very depressing. Like I said, life is pretty simple with us, till they started writing poetry like “Who killed cock Robin”    .. . . . . .  .  . “I said the sparrow, with my bow and arrow” Sigh. . .  ..the ideas they come up with…. introducing violence among the birds too. 

Oh that reminds me I have to keep turning the eggs from time to time. Don’t want the chicks to stick on the shell, and turning gives heat on all sides of the egg.
This is a good neighbourhood. Calm and peaceful with lots of trees (which means lots of insects) Had a quick aerial survey yesterday. Some school kids were singing the national anthem, after hoisting a colourful flag. They all looked so happy. 

Heard some one mention something about Independence day……. a free country. It must be nice to live in a free country. Do you know there are some countries where we were banned. Yes the Red Vented Bulbul were exterminated in Auckland .  . . . . but more on that later

Right now I have to get back to the nest and keep a watch out for that Pied Crested Cuckoo. Some times they act smart and lay their eggs in our nest. What is commonly termed  as brood parasite.
Well, as Mr H has clicked a lot of pics here is one more of mine ..... this is to hold your attention till I am back with the continuation, when the eggs are hatched.