Calangute, Goa. January, 2021.
A tiny common pierrot butterfly resting on a yellow trumpet reminds me of the opening lines of a poem we were taught at school…
“All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures large and small…”
With 2020 finally behind us it was time for my first trip of the year to my ancestral hometown.
There are definite indications that the pandemic curve was flattening. And yet our first tentative steps into the new decade are cloaked in anxiety.
Out in the backyard on this January morning there is a nip in the air. The pierrot butterfly obviously feels it too.
Butterflies are cold-blooded creatures and on a cold winter morning they need to wait for the morning sun to warm them up before they can get on with their day.
The yellow trumpet (tecoma stans) bush has grown a bit wild and is in full bloom. (I’m glad that my normally over-enthusiastic gardener has not pruned it.)
It’s not only my eye that it’s catching.
A pair of Purple-rumped sunbirds (male above and female below) have a ball feasting on the nectar as they move from flower to flower.
Sitting out on the backyard I realise that the garden lights are still on. As I go to the front of the house to switch them off a couple of juvenile peacocks feeding on the driveway allow me to get off a few images before slowly walking off.
It’s early January, and right on cue, one of the wild fruiting trees has borne berries, attracting a wide variety of birds including Indian golden orioles, rosy starlings and Asian koels (below).
Not to be outdone by the yellow trumpets, the hibiscus bushes too are full of flowers that are seemingly irresistible to purple-rumped and purple sunbirds and a variety of butterflies like the male common wanderer below The butterfly numbers are nowhere near what they were during the rains. But one thing I know for sure, pandemic or no pandemic, they will be back come the next monsoon!
Talking about butterflies, I’m super excited to get my first sighting of the autumn leaf butterfly! The beauty below put in a brief appearance before flying off.
It was pure luck that I spotted it.
It was around three in the afternoon after a heavy lunch and a couple of cocktails – (I’m in Goa remember, where the combination is staple)! Resisting the temptation to snooze, my decision to spend the afternoon on the porch and was rewarded by the sighting!
This black drongo (above) showed no signs of awareness of the ongoing global pandemic as he expertly picked insects in mid air in-between small bouts of harassing other birds.
The same went for the pair of Indian robins (male below, female bottom) that foraged the lawn for insects and caterpillars without a care in the world.
In fact it was business as usual in the entire yard. Each living being, be it a plant or flower, tree or fruit, insect or bird, each conducted itself faithfully in the manner that they were created for. No more no less.
Including bumblebees and dragonflies and potter’s wasps, and a host of birds like red-whiskered bulbuls, leafbirds – both Jerdon’s and gold-fronted (last image), puff-throated babblers, white-browed babblers, rufous treepies, orange-headed thrushes (female, above) and Tickell’s blue flycatchers (below) that came in to bathe and quench their thirst at the water baths.
For them it was as if the virus never existed and the so-called horrors of 2020 never happened!
The message is as clear as it is simple. Life goes on and this world will keep on turning. Each being is created with a specific purpose and things like life and death and everything in-between are all part and parcel of their existence. It is a fact that is unquestioningly accepted by every creature on Earth.
For centuries the atrocities we have inflicted on this planet are unbelievable. From being directly responsible to sending countless species into extinction to destroying the environment, even entire ecosystems, in our insatiable drive to ‘create’ monstrosities, often ironically, in the name of the very God that created them.
We as a species have relentlessly wreaked havoc with the very core of the Balance of Nature and, what’s more, is we do so without batting an eyelid!
And yet, when we suffer a payback from a tiny virus, that is infinitesimally minuscule in comparison, we find it unacceptable!
It’s time we realise that we are not some favoured species who can demand preferential treatment at the expense of the others.
I guess the first stanza of the poem says it all. (Incidentally, according to Wikipedia it was written by and Anglo-Irish lady, Cecil Frances Alexander way back in the 19th century.)
All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.
This planet belongs to every single living being on it. Be it bright or beautiful, great or small, wise or wonderful, there are no exceptions. All have an equal right to exist and do what it must to survive.
Even a virus.