In lighter vein, my birding buddies accuse me of making illusionary relationships with birds, this is largely because I address birds that way – a friend, foe etc., Why would I not? I love them so much and really feel connected. Moreover this creates a bond between birds and I, reminding me of an associated incident or two which makes me smile.
In all these birding years, if there is one bird which has made me desperate, it is this one. Black francolins aren’t uncommon, in fact they are categorised under ‘Least Concern’ status by IUCN. They were much more abundant in the past, until gaining popularity as a game bird and then hunted excessively. Today, Black Francolin is protected in India by law and also carries the crown of a State bird (for Haryana).
Peculiarly, I have somehow never been lucky in getting a clear image of this bird species. Not once or twice but I have spotted this at least half a dozen times. Their loud ringing calls can’t be mistaken and often has led me to spot them in the mornings and evenings, and almost all day during the breeding season (summers).
After repeated misses, Black francolin was the only species which I had completely ‘given up’ on. I still vividly remember, how I didn’t bother to even bring my camera to the eye on multiple occasions; simply because I was sure this one too would vanish into the grasslands and I would be left with a blank frame.
However, this time around, Anand Prasad (Mahendra) my preferred guide from Tal Chappar region, was insistent that he would help me break this jinx. For some strange reason, I got a little superstitious too, must be the desperation that was playing on my mind.
After couple of hours on safari track at the Tal Chappar blackbuck sanctuary, this Black francolin (male), popped out of no where and stood calling on an earth mound. It was soon joined by other birds answering from all directions. This created absolute chaos, reminding me of those impatient autorikshaw drivers back home, whose honking would begin soon after the red light turns green.
Buckled up, trembled, picked up the camera and oops – this beautiful male was perfectly positioned against light. I did my best, used all the skill and experience, tried to expose the bird just enough to show the details while retaining the golden hour rim light and this is what I could create. And then rest was history repeating itself, the bird was gone and the jinx continues till date.
So this brought me to nickname this as my ’near miss’ bird..
PS: Reach out to me personally and I will give you a colloquial synonym for ‘near misses’ experienced here. You know what I mean, don’t you? 🙂