Wildlife Photography à la Girls Block

My first year at NITK was a lesson-of-sorts. Coming straight from the urban jungle, it was at first unnerving to see little black worms with yellow markings all over the place, or watch snakes slither before your very eyes, or stop dead in our tracks maintaining eye-contact with lizard-like snakes or snake-like lizards when we did our laundry.

My first month was spent listening to tales of beautiful peacocks in the vicinity. I never did lay eyes on one until after the mid-sem exams. I did hear tales of wolves and jackals that came out after dark, but those seem to be akin now to tales of the Bogeyman, to make sure we didn’t wander around after block timings.

But second year on, we moved to a different block, and we’ve had no dearth of indoor wildlife since then. Orphaned puppies, kittens all found their way to our doorsteps. Some were occasionally cared for, sometimes with disastrous results – there were tales of someone bathing a kitten with soap and hanging it out to dry… and in some versions, it was a crow. There were innumerable strays too, attracted by the mess food (whoa!). Some apparently got birthday cake et al, and slept in the corridors of the hostel, but after one inmate got bitten, the authorities and we tried to keep those away.

Of course nothing kept Scratchy away… for the uninitiated, Scratchy was our most popular stray, a wolfish-looking, mangy thing with clumps of fur falling off, who died a sad death two days before AdCom. He will be remembered for posterity for licking puke off the corridors, for upturning dustbins and scratching through their contents over weekends, when the Maintenance staff had their weekly off. I never could get a shot of Scratchy; he passed on a month before I got my camera. But Scratchy has enough successors in upturning dustbins… here are a few:

Talking of dogs, I photographed only a pup. Cute little fellow he was. Our seniors found him a nice home somewhere, before he reached the dustbin-digging stage. He liked chewing up slippers, though.

mongrel pup

But the true dustbin-upturning successors of Scratchy have to be the crows. I seem to have taken on RK Laxman’s penchant for crows – I snap them day in and day out. Mainly coz they are the only interesting creatures around. Ingenious, too, though not in the same league as Professor Shonkhu’s Corvus, in ripping open carefully-tied packets thrown into the bins. Funnily, the creatures that are so bold that they don’t even fly away when you clap your hands close to them take off at the first sight of a camera! It’s been impossible to get nice close-ups. But I did manage to catch them in action around dustbins a couple of times.

Indian CrowCrow ransacking a dustbinCrow escaping after ransacking a dustbinCrow caught upturning a dustbinCrow flies away after ransacking a dustbin

There are other birds around, too. We have pigeons that luckily for us, don’t behave like pigeons in Jhankaar Beats. They are more obsessed with fighting each other, and then making up. And thankfully they don’t come anywhere close to the dustbins.

a pair of indian rock pigeonsTwo pigeonsIndian Rock PigeonsPair of pigeons

If you step outside the four walls of the hostel, you’d find a whole host of coucals , better known as crow-pheasants. They aren’t too friendly, but they don’t mind you following them around with a camera, as long as you don’t get too close.

two coucalsCoucalCoucalCoucal

Then there are those really handsome birds to take good-quality pictures of which you need a camera with awesome zoom, coz they roost on very high trees, and they never do swoop down anytime. And they’re as shy as can be. I don’t know what names these birds have

Bird on a treeBird on an electric pole

Do tell me if you do recognize them – By the way, the bird in the first picture is actually blue and green. While taking pictures of birds, don’t make the same mistake I made: switch the camera to high colour and high resolution. I do know the names of these three below, though – the first one is a mynah [I need to remind myself to get a few pics of this species in bright light – their orange beaks and the ring around their eyes are a sight to behold], the second is a male koel, the one that sings melodiously, these are also notoriously shy, and the females, which are black speckled with white, are even more so. The third one is my favorite – the racket-tailed drongo. I’d only read about this bird in Tinkle, and had heard that it imitates the cries of other birds. And then I came to NITK… I find quite a few of these. The tail is normally much longer than you see here, with two tailfeathers quite prominently sticking out separately.

Mynah on telephone wire at NITKMale Koel or CuckooRacket-Tailed Drongo

And… then we have the Kitten. It hung around for a couple of months, quite a long life for a kitten orphaned not very long after birth. We did take care of it, and no one gave it a bath, thankfully. And then the inevitable happened – it got mauled by the stray dogs. Kittie, R.I.P.

Sleeping Kitten at NITK GBKitten licking itself cleanCute kitten scratching itselfKitten eating

About wanderlust

just your average books-and-music person who wants to change the world.
This entry was posted in Life at NITK, NITK Nostalgia, Photography. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Wildlife Photography à la Girls Block

  1. arvind says:

    that was realy good…
    i had heard CAT has 9 lives..
    😛 what happened to other 8 lives..

  2. wow. thatz quite a lot of intresting neighbours… we used to get visitors liek snakes and an occational some-kind-of-deer (in malayalam, itz called kezha) but never had acam to catch the pics… if your cam have raw mode, try shooting teh birds using it and then playing around in an editor.. it will give u better results…

  3. wanderlust says:

    i guess it took eight lives to stay alive for the few months…. haven’t you watched sylvester and tweety? felines lead dangerous lives!
    which college were you in?
    and thanks for the tip, will try it.

  4. ish says:

    I’ve not lived in a hostel..well not yet but we have quite a number of stray dogs in our area. At one point of time, I was really obsessed with dogs and wanted to keep one. Actually I’ve been scared of them all my life but I still wanted to keep one. Knowing the lazy git that I am, my mother never agreed. So I picked up a cute one from the streets. Thankfully it wasn’t a female or we would have had a horde of male dogs outside our gate. Indian male dogs are as desperate as the male humans, I tell you. 😛 So yeah, I brought the dude home and the first thing he did was he peed on my bed and then slept on it. Mum told me to leave it outside in the night and I had to do it. But I found him stuck in our gate a couple of hours later. Had to take a great deal of pain in taking him out without killing him and knowing that his mother could be somewhere close and ready to bite. Ultimately covered his eyes and left him somewhere..didn’t come back after that day.

    We have a pigeon family who stays in a window pane kind of a place at our chemistry tuition. I’m guilty of having wasted hours just staring and observing them. Even though we could see them only through the window, it was clear which one was the dad, the mom and the kids. Cute little family they were too..dunno if they are still there.

  5. Hey! Pigeons making out. That’s a better sight compared to crows making out, I assure you.

    Our college campus has all kinds of weird things. Deer, emus, geese, lovebirds, peacocks, snakes (okay they aren’t in the enclosures). There is also one baby crocodile that was caught in the hostel campus! Nobody knows how it got there, but the Forensic Medicine department thought it would be a cool thing for us to see, and have killed and glasscaged it. With label that reads “Crocodile”. Ooh, really? it makes one wonder.
    And yeah, we have tons of sheep that graze on our own lawns and are later killed for our own food.
    My college is weird.

  6. AND, (how could I POSSIBLY forget her), there is this one-eyed bitch within the campus that follows me everywhere. Without fail. ALL around the campus. I call her Clementine.
    (Dang, I will miss Clementine.)

  7. wanderlust says:

    whoa, if that was a full-grown dog, you took a big, big risk. if it was a pup, you should have atleast tried house-training it before letting it onto your BED!
    covering his eyes worked?! i thought dogs could find their way about anywhere through smells alone even if all other senses get impaired? anyway… good for you you managed to get rid of the dog… it surely wasn’t wanted in your house.
    reminds me of the time my little cousins got a pup from the maidservant’s son, fed it all sorts of things, it finally bust its intestines.
    @spunky monkey:
    about pigeons and crows, i’ll take your word for it.
    so many animals in a medical college campus? it isn’t UAS, is it? and you aren’t studying to be a vet, right?
    i suppose the peacocks were brought in to clear the snakes, the geese for the eggs, the emus to keep the peacocks company, and the deer to keep the sheep alert and active…?
    baby crocodile… was it found in a drain? mighta been flushed down the pot, like the urban legend goes…. but isn’t killing crocs a crime?
    the label is fine…. people might mistake it for an alligator.
    and amongst all this a bitch… your coll is weird.
    we had one female dog in the hostel… we named her ash, and there used to be two males fighting for her day in and day out.. predictably we named them sallu and vivek. then more males followed, so the bitch became “mary”, and we said There’s Something About Mary… possibly pheromones.
    funnily, when we complained to the authorities about the stray dog menace in the hostel, they used to come and take away all the dogs EXCEPT the bitch… and they used to be very surprised when we went back to complain. *sigh*.

  8. ish says:

    We covered the dog’s eyes and left him close to his mother and he didn’t come back. Finding his mother wasn’t a tough job because it had been hit by something and her head was totally broken and swollen up and weird. It was dangerous though because she might have attacked. It was a small puppy of course, I’ve always been scared of dogs. I still can’t go to a friend’s house because he has a dog. Even though the dog knows me now but I’m still totally paranoid. And how was I to treat him manners when I didn’t know any myself. I was too young and too silly then.

  9. wanderlust says:

    dogs are nice. a lot nicer than cats, i’ll have you know – like it’s said, dogs have masters, cats have staff. one thing i’ve discovered is dogs attack mostly when you act scared of them. so…

  10. arvind says:

    yes,,sylvester and tweety is a real time pass..
    by the way this cat doesn’t look like sylvester.. 😛
    is that the tweety i are talking about in the pic above ur sylvester’s pic

  11. wanderlust says:

    thith cat wath too weak to be thylwethter. nine lives, nevertheless… not many kittens can survive close to four months with rabid dogs.
    thweety-bird? pothible.

  12. arvind says:

    that wath really awethome mimicry 😛

  13. i did my MCA from MarianCollege, Kuttikkanam, kerala 😀

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