As we made our way back, I noticed a small, energetic bird perched on a branch. It was making frequent forays back and forth onto the ground. When I looked at it closely, it looked like a warbler and I photographed it. The name warbler comes from an Old French word “werbler,” which means to sing in trills. They have feet adapted for perching on trees and are also known as perching birds. There is a rather painful condition known as ‘warbler neck’ which is caused by spending too much time straight up on the tree to spot the birds! Warblers can be very difficult to distinguish and identify and I sought the help of more experienced birders. I was surprised at the varying identifications I received. Finally, I got in touch with R, whose fund of knowledge about the avian species is quite remarkable. I had done some birding with him years ago and sent across the photograph. He replied promptly and said that it was Syke’s warbler.
Colonel William Henry Sykes, FRS, was an Indian Army officer, statistician, politician and ornithologist. During his time at the Bombay Army, he published his catalogues of birds and mammals of the Deccan in the Proceedings of the Zoological Society in 1832. This included 56 birds new to science. His list of birds of the Deccan included 236 species. Interestingly, he named several new species after Hindu deities. Syke named the warbler after Rama and called it Iduna rama. In Norse mythology, Iduna was the goddess of spring or rejuvenation and the wife of Bragi, the god of poetry. Sighting the Syke’s warbler I felt the rejuvenating presence of Iduna.
Sometimes the pleasure of birding is not actually seeing the bird that you want to see but being surprised by the chance encounter of something that you have not seen before.
And then it fills you with boundless joy.
As Thich Nhat Hanh observed, “If you walk with true awareness of every step, without having a goal to get anywhere, happiness will arise naturally. You don’t need to look for happiness.”
Looking forward to your responses/reactions here!