Tuesday 18 June 2024

News Analysed, Opinions Expressed

Different Dimensions

Feathered Friends


The countryside is flat and coconut trees rise up everywhere. The stereculia stands tall with a perfect canopy of drooping branches, shorn of leaf. Kidney shaped pods red and ripe hang on the branches.

Birds have always fascinated me, and birding is highly enjoyable. When I am free my day begins early. I glance through the newspaper headlines, nothing much to hold interest. I move over to the obituary page. Everything is fine. My name does not appear in there, confirmation that I am alive. I get kicking. Hat on, for the dew, binoculars, for the view, it’s time to march. There is chill in the air as winter is still too warm into summer.

The countryside is flat and coconut trees rise up everywhere. The stereculia stands tall with a perfect canopy of drooping branches, shorn of leaf. Kidney shaped pods red and ripe hang on the branches. Some open up and gently let the cylindrical seeds, dressed in grey jacket and brown underwear, drop to earth a good forty feet below. Single brahmini kite, perched on a stretched branch seems to await sunrise. The coppersmith can be heard, not seen, as usual.

This time I am accompanied by Yuri Figueiredo with his camera. Earlier, he snapped up my niece and they have clicked. It’s time for him to use his camera expertise on birds and so we get going.

The water bodies are drying up and the divers and the waders converge on to the diminishing water holes in the ponds, making it easy to click them. On this particular February day, people are proceeding for the carnival parade at Margao. We proceed to the drying lake at Chaul, Betalbatim and later to the Seraulim lake, which are veritable feasts of Avifauna, as you can see in the photographs.

Bronze Winged Jacana

Bronze Winged Jacana (family Metopidius indicus): This bird is fairly common and is easily identifiable as it seems to walk on water. Actually the bird has feet with long toes adapted to walk on lily pads in the water and is hence also called the Lily Trotter Jacana.

White Stork

White Stork (Ciconia Ciconia): This stork is a little more than a metre tall and generally white with black feathers on wing tips. It has red legs and red rather pointed bill. It is a winter visitor to Goa and is found along with other water birds in swampy areas. It feeds like other storks on fish, insects and frogs.

White necked stork


White necked stork (Ciconia episcopus) also called the Woolly necked stork : The bird looks awkward in its gait. A full grown adult has a black bill with a tinge of red. The wings are glossy with greenish blue or copper colours. Mostly found on semi dry land with birds like cattle egrets.

Painted Stork


Painted Stork (Mycteria leucocephala): This is about a metre tall bird with large down curved yellowish bill and orange yellow bare head. Its food habits are similar to other storks and wading birds along marshy land. It is not a very common bird in Goa and mostly seen November to March.

 Indian Cormorants (Pan Kaudo)


Indian Cormorants (Phalacrocorax Fusciollis) : This is a bird, little smaller than a domestic duck, quite commonly seen along water bodies. Unlike most water birds it does not have wax on its feathers and therefore gets water laden and finds difficult to take off. The bird is often seen with its wings spread out to dry. The bird in China and south east Asia is used for fishing. In Konkani it is called ‘Pan Kaudo’ 



Darter (Anhinga Melanogaster) : The bird is also known as Snake bird because of its habit of swimming under water only with its long neck protruding out giving the impression of a snake in the water. It has a long slim head and long tail. This bird also tends to spread out its wings to dry and could be mistaken for a cormorant with which it shares many habits. It has a much longer neck than the cormorant.

White Ibis


 White Ibis also known as Black headed Ibis (Threskiornis melanocephalus): The bird is distinguished by its downward curving beak and generally white colour except for the top of the head which is black in adults. The bird is not very common and is seen in Goa mostly November to March around water bodies. It flies gracefully.

Purple Moorhen (Tel Combo)


Purple Moorhen (Porphyrio porhyrio) : The size of a domestic fowl and from a distance looks pretty close to a hen. It has gleaming purplish blue metallic colour with long red legs and large feet. It is commonly found along drying lake bed foraging for food. It is called ‘Tel Combo’ in Konkani and is found throughout the year.

Grey Heron (Kud Bokem)

Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea): The Grey Heron is a slim and tall bird usually seen alone. Being a wading bird it is seen along pond margins waiting patiently to spear fish, swimming within reach. It feeds during day time on fish, frogs and insects like other Herons. In Konkani, it is I believe is called ‘Kud Bokem’.

Redwattled Lapwing (Tento)

Redwattled Lapwing Vanellus indicus: It is a very common bird found throughout the year and all over Goa. It is often heard at night flying overhead with its trademark call. It does not like intruders in its range and immediately raises alarm, disturbing everyone. It can fly overhead and dive bomb at you. Its nest is a scrape on the ground which merges in the surrounding and difficult to see even at close range. It has yellow legs, red beak and red wattles which hang around its eyes. It is called ‘Tento’ in Konkani.

(Photos by Yuri Figueiredo)

Disclaimer: Views expressed above are the author's own.

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Radharao Gracias

Radharao F.Gracias is a senior Trial Court lawyer and ex President of the South Goa Advocates Association. He is also former independent MLA of Goa. He has been an activist on issues related to Goa for more than three decades.


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