The birds and butterflies of Valiyaparamba Island.
The first thing that had captivated me the day I got down at Payyanur around the wee hours and tuk tuke’d my way to the Retreat was the bird songs that greeted us all along. As dawn broke the chirping and the calls and the rituals reached a crescendo. Valiyaparamba Islands Acoustic welcome stunned me. The next few days not a moment elapsed without some bird song.
The ritual simplistic as the surroundings. Wake up before dawn. Watch the sunrise, canoe around and then take one of the cycles and pedal around the single tar road trailing butterflies and spotting birds. I slowly realized a pattern in this therapeutic exercise. As if out of a fairytale or some sought of miracle I noticed the same butterflies and sometimes the bird in the course of my small journeys around. As if it’s the other way round. They trailing me. The butterfly with the big blue wings with the pentagon pattern on the right wing kept swinging past me as if to tease me to fly along. It hovered around the purple flowers growing abundantly in the wild. Hop and sit on the little coconut tree and again come and sit back on the purple flower.
In one of these cycling haunts I passed a small sleepy village few yards from the retreat. The river banked here and there was one of the ferry stops. In the railing around the ferry stop sat on lone pelican watching mindfully of the prey deep down. As I stopped my cycle it slanted its big neck a little towards the right and threw a glance with one eye, blinked and continued with what it was busy with. It felt we have made peace and were on friendly terms. Halfway from the village I stopped to see a huge kite on top of a coconut tree. Focused again on the prey in the waters. I reaslised it’s breakfast time here. I pedaled back to grab my own very local breakfast in the spacious dining hall of the retreat. As I was sipping my coffee later, my attention went to a small little blue thin moving on the periphery wall. I pulled my camera up and fixed the tele. As I slow zoomed and focused the object of attention revealed its identity. The Kingfisher with the sharpest peak I had seen kept sitting their shaking its head as if its head banging. My curiosity knew no bounds and slowly treaded as softly as I could down the stairs of the dining hall that overlooks both the backwaters and the beach. The kingfisher was still there. Now a bit still as if it has heard me coming. I stood there for few minutes and it didn’t move. I kept clicking and same response. It rather felt as if its posing. My next few days in Vretreat saw many such moments. The kingfisher and me in different locations. It felt as if we are in a director – actor relationship.
One morning I took a brisk morning walk on the beach. This part had a spectacle of its own. Flocks of pelicans, sparrows and many other species flew in and out with the waves. As the waves retreaded the flock of birds waded through it as if doing a slow march. Then the sunlight glittered on the dancing waves and in formation the flocks take off towards the western sky and the big blue ocean. The cycle repeats in tandem on some days on the riverfront. Just that here it was more like going home for the flocks to a tree rather than on ocean embarkation.
On some evenings I also spotted a lone eagle or pelican that has lost it’s way flying aimlessly or is it that these lone ones break away from the flock to find new paths and journeys. One wouldn’t know. One wouldn’t want to know perhaps. The Pink Floyd song…Bird of prey, flying high rings in my mind.