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3 December 2013 / leggypeggy

Poor John and I fail the bird quiz

woman washing radish tops

Who knew radish tops could be sautéed with salt and oil?

Deepti and Anand take birdwatching very seriously, especially Deepti. And they definitely know the birds of India.

Grey bush chat

Grey bush chat

Jungle babblers

Jungle babblers

A speck flits across the sky and they chime, in unison, Oh there goes a white-throated kingfisher.

Where, where, I cry, scanning the skies. There, there, they say, pointing somewhere in the distance, Can’t you see it. Oh, it’s gone now.

Geez, I love twitching, but I’m still not very good at spotting birds unless they land in front of me.

So the bird quiz they dreamt up for us was always going to be a challenge. We were in staying at Camp Milieu, about a 30-minute drive from the Jim Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand.

Camp Milieu is surrounded by rolling hills and very popular with twitching photographers from all around India. In fact, they were having a gathering at the camp for the few days we were there.

But our quiz adventure had nothing to do with the professional twitchers. We were divided into two teams—Renae and Gary and Poor John and me.—with Anand helping us and Deepti helping the others.

We set out on a four-kilometre walk, with cameras, notebooks and pens, two books on the birds of the Indian Subcontinent, and a challenge to spot and identify 30 different species of bird.

Gary and Renae

Gary and Renae consult the bird book

Renae and Gary shot to an immediate lead, seeing birds I didn’t know existed, and stayed ahead for the rest of the walk. I did manage to photograph two species—the grey bush chat and a pair of jungle babblers.

turmeric growing

A small field of turmeric

Neither team made it to 30 species. Renae and Gary got halfway, and Poor John and I only got 10.

But we had our own kind of victory.

In addition to the bird watching, we walked through a small village and I had the good fortune to see turmeric growing for the first time ever. Other crops that I noticed included peas, onions, lychees, limes, chillies, eggplants and two kinds of tubers. A field had been turned over and was ready for planting.

At the same little farm, we saw a woman washing a large pan of radish tops. Who knew you could sauté white radish (daikon) tops with a bit of oil and salt? The man of the house was sorting and cleaning a kind of yam.

Camp Milieu

Looking back at Camp Milieu in the distance

A big spread of mustard seeds was drying on a cloth on the pavement. I never knew that yellow and black mustard seeds grow on the same plant, which means what we buy in the shops have been sorted by colour. Anand reckons there is very little difference in taste, and said that many families just used them mixed. As an aside, we’ve cooked with them often on this trip—mixed with cumin seeds.

A little farther on, we saw a family making optimum use of their roof. Dad was reading the paper, mum was preparing food, clothes were drying and the satellite dish was at the ready for TV later that night.

rooftop in India

A well-used rooftop. Mum on the far left cooking and dad reading on the right


Leave a Comment
  1. prayaanindiaoverland / Dec 5 2013 1:42 am

    The picture of Renae and Gary is really very good…i remember initially they were very serious but later on they got bored and enjoyed there walk… but still we won but didn’t get our prize till yet 😦


    • leggypeggy / Dec 5 2013 4:51 am

      I love that pic of Renae and Gary. Maybe we can challenge them to another bird quiz. 🙂


  2. prayaanindiaoverland / Dec 6 2013 11:25 pm

    Peggy next time you will have to come in my team – Deepti


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