Of life, love, a new home and bird-watching in Carambolim

Posted in Goa by Priya Ramachandran.

Of life, love, a new home and bird-watching in Carambolim

Right from the day we moved into our new place, our lives seem to have taken on a whimsical, languorous quality. You know that feeling of a lazy Sunday afternoon spent curled up on a warm couch in the balcony with a cool, tall glass of iced tea and a book, as a gust of fresh breeze on you threatens to send you into a state of dreamy stupor? That pretty much sums up the personality of our new home. Not to say, that’s what we do all the time. But there is something about a new home that’s like a new relationship in bloom. And especially since we work from home and spend all our time here, there’s so much to discover, so much to love and so much to be worried about. Not the love of two passionate lovers, hungry to explore each other. But a more quiet kind of love which grows on you. For us, it was the new things we learned everyday. Like finding a beautiful golden patch of the evening sun on our kitchen table at the same time everyday. Or the smell of tea brewing in the kettle as we stare out of our kitchen window, at the sun setting into the wilderness, filling us with a quiet sense of pride for choosing to live this life. Or even the horror of finding deadly wasps trying to make their new home in our window sill. We are learning to accept everything. The good, the bad and the crumbling plasters. For it’s ‘ours’.

Bird-watching at Carambolim
View from our kitchen window: Birds flying into the sunset.
Bird-watching at Carambolim
View from our kitchen window: Silhouettes against the evening sky.
Bird-watching at Carambolim
View from our kitchen window: The top of the tower of St. Augustine on the horizon.

It was on one such evening that we discovered a new thing to love about where we live. It was the usual routine of shutting down all laptops at our demarcated ‘work room,’ where we toil at for most part of our day. We made chai and then sat in our balcony to observe the proceedings of the evening aunty club from our high vantage point. With their little protesting children in tow, the ladies gather on the road below our balcony and share their lives, oohing and aahing at each other’s domestic triumphs and turbulences. The only other sounds apart from the women’s breathless chatter are the constant chirping of the birds in our neighbourhood who have filled our days and nights with their trills, tweets, warbles, chirrups and symphonies. That’s when we spotted these tiny green birds perched gingerly on the delicate branches of the bamboo grove in front of us. We know that our area attracts a whole lot of birds since we live less than a kilometre away from the Carambolim Lake, which is a haven for bird-watchers. These little green birds however, looked like a new spotting. We are no ornithologists or bird enthusiasts, so to say. We can just about tell our sparrows and swallows apart, but know no other names and types. But I can sense that bird-watching or ‘birding’ is something that is going to become a part of our everyday life now.

So, coming back to that evening, we decided to get a closer look at the little green birds (which we later learned are Green Bee-eaters, thanks to Sashidar and Ajith) from our bedroom window.

Bird-watching at Carambolim
Three little green bee-eaters.

We consciously framed our large bedroom window with an old four-poster bed, the height of which matches the window sill, creating a cosy window nook with a distant view of the Carambolim Lake. While this perfect reading spot also offers stunning stunning sunrise views (forcing us to draw the curtains sleepily), many an afternoon has been spent lying on this bed and looking at the clouds above. On clear nights, you can see stars as you slowly slip into a happy slumber. And that evening, we discovered that the bed is an amazing spot to bird-watch too.

Bird-watching at Carambolim
The humble crow gets his moment of fame.
Bird-watching at Carambolim
Unidentified bird. An angry looking Drogo. (Thanks Sasidhar.)
Bird-watching at Carambolim
The Drogo takes flight.
Bird-watching at Carambolim
Lazy bird watcher.

And just when I thought Lovell might just go on to become the laziest bird photographer ever, watching and shooting our flying friends as he lies belly-down on the bed, the sight of birds soaring over the Carambolim Lake from the window called out to us from the distance. Before we knew it, we found ourselves driving to the lake to catch the sunset action.

Bird-watching at Carambolim
Signage by the forest department at the ‘protected’ Carambolim lake.
Bird-watching at Carambolim
Sunlit tracks of the Carambolim/Karmali railways station, on the banks of the lake.
Bird-watching at Carambolim
A list of birds that one could find at the Carambolim lake.

As the setting sun painted the sky in brilliant oranges and blush pinks, we watched birds float across the vegetation-rich lake in leisure, playfully peck each other with their beaks, dive into the water gracefully to catch fish, glide and skim against the surface of the lake and soar high into the orange sky, only to become beautiful silhouettes.

Bird-watching at Carambolim
A Pond Heron in flight.
Bird-watching at Carambolim
A Purple Moorhen flaps its wings.
Bird-watching at Carambolim
Lovell captures the birds in action.
Bird-watching at Carambolim
A Little Grebe.
Bird-watching at Carambolim
Purple lake hens gather in their favorite hangout stop, somewhere towards the middle of the lake.
Bird-watching at Carambolim
Cheap lens and cheap camera.
Bird-watching at Carambolim
Lotus buds in the middle of the lake.
Bird-watching at Carambolim
A flock of birds make their way home, as the sun sets.
Bird-watching at Carambolim
A Lesser Whistling Teal camouflaged in the vegetation.

After a while, we decided to drive further into the heart of the Carambolim (or Karmali) village. While the Carambolim Lake is a familiar name among bird enthusiasts in Goa, hidden in this village are a number of unexplored bird watching spots, one of which we had discovered on our earlier drives around this neighbourhood. Our very own undisclosed marshland. An estuary so hidden and quiet that it feels like a secret world that belongs to the birds alone. We felt like anomalies in their perfect little habitat. We automatically switched to whispers, not wanting to intrude into their lives. For the first time ever, I heard the sound of birds flying! Yes, there’s a sound! A deep whoosh-whooshing as their wings cut through the air. This estuary had turned a brilliant pink by then, reflecting the mood of the sky. And that perfect tableau, that perfect moment became a little bubble of happiness that floated into the sky, gently along the horizon.

Bird-watching at Carambolim
Silhouettes and reflections.
Bird-watching at Carambolim
The birds call it a day and take their places on the tree top for the night.

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