Nature

hawks and their winter haunts…

Pallid harrier

Hawks – war, fiscal policy, sports – they may look like the lesser cousins of eagles, but when it comes to popular culture, they hold their own… unlike the scruffy appearance of larger birds of prey, hawks seem rather primmed, a rather professional air about them, if you may, as they perch and hover…

Hawks, Pallid harrier
Pallid harrier (Circus macrourus)

And corroborating the fact, hawks aren’t any slouches either when it comes to their thinking ability, preceded only by the cunning crows and feisty falcons in IQ (largely based on the ability to innovate ways to seek food)… these are sprinters, settling matters of survival in the blink of an eye…

Hawks, Eurasian sparrowhawk
Eurasian sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)

Sacred to Apollo… revered by native AmericansIndra’s games to test Shibi… the traits that placed hawks on the higher pedestals of culture and mythology wound their way down over centuries to a more direct and symbiotic relationship in the form of falconry, an ingenious means of subsistence now resting on its laurels as an intangible cultural heritage…

Hawks, Pallid harrier
Pallid harrier (Circus macrourus)

Despite their tidiness, hawks are surprisingly twitchy… eagles and vultures seem more assured on their high perches, unhurried and lending an air of gravitas to their surroundings, whilst hawks are (relatively) impatient operators, covert in their hunting and skittish on the perches…

Hawks, Eurasian sparrowhawk
Eurasian sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)

A Pallid harrier (Circus macrourus) and a Eurasian sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) were the muses, the former spotted on a perch before it flew off and the latter landed on a tree by perchance just in front of our crawling car… part of the migratory Old World caravan, they are the ‘middle class’, not rare but necessary, not threatened yet tentative, rowing the boat for others to rock…

Hawks, Pallid harrier
Pallid harrier (Circus macrourus)

The harrier is a generalist, skimming through whatever the woodlands have to offer… one assumes it’s this ‘harrying’ nature that lends itself to the common name, for a part of the scientific one is a rather dry reference to the circular flight… the bourgeois is what it’d remind one of… it migrates from its northern range in eastern Europe and central Asia to winter in India and Southeast Asia…

Eurasian sparrowhawk
Eurasian sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)

The sparrowhawk, on the other hand, has a rather cultivated taste for avifauna, one that has historically placed it at crossroads with gamekeepers… being difficult to train, it is a challenge for the austringer too… there have been quite a few ebbs and flows in its relationship with humans, but for a large part, there is a sense of respect arising from its unpredictable nature… populations in the northern part of the range migrate while the southern counterparts tend to be resident…

Pallid harrier
Pallid harrier (Circus macrourus)

They’ve managed to come through rather unscathed till now, befriending the hunter, seeing the pest for the pesticides, and being careful not to climb too high up the ladder of cultural symbolism… one hopes they’ve struck a deal with the Anthropocene, one that is bereft of any surprises…

Eurasian sparrowhawk
Eurasian sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)

Musings on a Pallid Harrier and a Eurasian sparrowhawk, Tal Chappar Wildlife Sanctuary, Rajasthan

Author: Parth Joshi

Allured by the outdoors, the author is made up in parts of that quintessential lost soul wreathing under the pangs of biophilia in a desk job, a wannabe elegist mostly ending up in dungeons of poetasters and an optimist waiting for the senility of the modern world to fade away while sampling shoots and leaves. In saner times, he has a keen interest in areas pertaining to tourism, history, agriculture and climate change, especially with respect to historical interpretations, emerging technologies and future livelihoods. An avid trekker, runner, cyclist, birder and photographer, he is more often than not found gloating over anything hinterland, on foot or over computer monitors, and fantasizing solutions that can foster inclusive growth and sustainable livelihoods for communities at the grassroots.

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