These Winter Mornings at Powai

– by Ashish Mantri


 Lazy morning on this late winter day
When birds do sing, new boughs do sway
When the air is sweet with impending spring
On the wings of the seasons it does bring.


 It has been one of the coldest winters
of Mumbai that we are facing. The crisp cool air & freezing winds from Himalayas(breezing in to defy the attack on everything from
north!) are making mercury dip and have brought a chill to the bone. I do not
blame the reluctance of my children to get ready for the school as even my body
screams at the idea of getting out of the warm bed. But the heart is enjoying
the warmth of spring.



And why not – the birds,
migratory & resident, have taken to display themselves. It is such a
wonderful joy to observe their almost lyrical flights, their eagerness to
select the finest berries of the lot available, flying around in a flock after
a dip in cool waters of the lake, flitting from one branch to another, chasing each
other just for the fun of it and that joyous singing. Even the famed Muggers of
the lake are there to enjoy the show with mouth open agape.

For all Powai-vasis, amidst the
traffic snarls of everyday exists a bounty of nature which we all are missing
out on. I know, most of us have not observed it – well to confess I also did
not till last winter.

 Having spent 42 years on mother
earth, its only last winter I realized that there is more to the birds’ world
than crows, pigeons, sparrows & occasional flamingoes. But awake I am now
and enjoying this display. And last two winters made me realize that I do not
have to travel too far. The area within radius of 10 minutes drive from
Hiranandani to any direction provides access to a treasure trove.

 The sweet sounds of birds make me
forget all other shrill noises of life around. These walks on some of my
favourite trails – at PowaiGarden, along the bank of Powai Lake,
in Forest Club, have been able to make me sing that song from my college days –
I’ve had the time of my life! Each trip
to these trails compels me to bring out the Grimmet & Inskipp’s on birds in
India and find out the names of the species I see for the first time; trust me
such occasions arise many a times.



Here one sees Bulbuls – red
vented & red whiskered who can be seen & heard so easily, the good luck
bird – the Greater Coucal who is more heard but rarely seen, the coppersmith
barbets in their attire of green, yellow & red busily plucking the food,
the shikras with those ferocious eyes, the Rufuous Male paradise Flycatcher
displaying with pride its fine feathers and trapeze skills in the bamboo
groves, the Purple Herons displaying the
brown & purple wings in their flight, waders comprising of Jacanas, Lesser
Whistling ducks and others ever willing to jump in the lake water for the cool
refreshing dips, raptors like Black Kite & Marsh Harrier busy patrolling
the skies above and most favourite white breasted kingfisher attired in
Turquoise Blue, brown & whites balancing the body while perched with that
long orange beak. The count is on & so far has reached almost 60. I am sure
it’s not exhaustive, nor am I exhausted. I have just started looking at the
world with a child like enthusiasm.

 So just wake up this weekend, don
those walking boots of yours (and off course those fine woolies) & set out
to explore the nature around. A brief glimpse of what all you might see if you
persevere is available on the link below where I have stored the pictures that
I have clicked over last one year:

As Emily Dickenson wrote once – I
hope you all get to love the birds. It is economical as it saves going to