I am just back from a very successful Sunbird trip to Gujarat in western India.
This state sports a completely flat landscape, mostly agricultural, with cotton
and Ricinus the most important crops. There were, however, also many fields
that were recently harvested and now plowed and made ready for the next crop.
The area is very dry and almost semi-desert many places and irrigation plays an
important role in agriculture; we were seldom out of earshot of the many pumps
pumping up water from the many, often somewhat saline (lots of flamingos
everywhere) pools and lakes. The fields were made ready for the irrigation by
an ingenious network of shallow ditches, and it was often here that the people
were at work, directing the stream of water.
And it was wonderful to see how many birds had taken advantage of this chance
and kept themselves close to the workers, often within 2 meters. Yellow
Wagtails patrolled along the ditches, Black Drongos (extremely opportunistic
birds, also often seen on the back of cows and goats, and even on the offal at
a slaughter house) hovered above and dived for juicy morcels, and Cattle Egrets
stalked around and clearly also found a lot to eat. Unfortunately I was too far
away to be able to see exactly what the birds fed on.
These fields otherwise held the ubiquitous Rock Pigeons, flocks of Greater
Short-toed Larks and here and there Desert Wagtails on sticks or small bushes.
But the picture of peaceful coexistence between the workers and their entourage
of three different species of birds will stick longest in my mind.
Wim Vader, Tromsø, Norway
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