CONCERT IN CAMOUFLAGE
The incessant monotone shrill muffles even the loud calls of the peacock – and peacocks use jarring fowl language.
I choose to enlighten my two spotters, Sandeep and Joginder: “This sound is made by crickets, they look like small Ramji ka Ghoda (grasshopper).”
Given my recent track record with ‘facts’ – which I deliver with aplomb – they bob their heads in courteous but sceptical nods.
Both decide to launch their research independent of me, surveying the thick foliage for the origin of the sound.
They show me a random spot on a random tree. I have to focus and squint many times before I can make out an impeccably camouflaged big brown fly, an inch long.
This is the guy emitting that shrill, both insist. They keep pointing out more and more of these bugs.
I find out later back home that they are right: it’s the cicada and his fervent mating calls. I also discover that there are annual cicadas, 17-year cicadas and even a ‘World Cup cicada’ that emerges only once in four years.
We scramble back to BioD the very next day.
I’ve forgotten to bring my tripod and the 2.5 kilo lens is heavier in the 44° heat. J&S offer their shoulders – Sandeep for high-up shots, Joginder for low-level shots.
We round off our expedition with a few other spectacles: saanp ki mausi (skink), ghostly exoskeleton of a cicada, cocky chameleon, tiger butterfly, green bee-eater, red firebugs, grey hornbill, and a khichdi-eating technicolour peacock.