View Full Version : The Branch of tree from where I spread my wings.

Samrat Sarkar
10-05-2018, 06:01 PM
I was then in the heart of the Nagjhira Wildlife Sanctuary with my family members during the extended vacation of the Durga Puza Festival. By that time one of my articles on the various techniques of Take off of the Grey Heron had just been published in the Natural History section in the website of the IndiaWilds (https://www.indiawilds.com/forums/showthread.php?16980). On that many wildlife lovers have left their valuable comments and I was going through those comments minutely. In an early morning that time when I was just preparing myself to enter the forest I saw that the publisher Mr. Sabyasachi Patra had given an elaborate comment on my article. I read it with a keen interest. He had pointed out some important things as he always does.

He has suggested what I will have to do to make the article more scientific. These valuable comments of my respected Sabyasachi da as a nature lover and a wildlife photographer opened new vistas for my love for the nature. He also mentioned that my article could have become of international standard if I had included the topics which he had suggested.

I was beside myself with glee as I was going through these comments. The feeling of dismay that crept in my mind for not being able to see any tiger that time just vanished. After I came back home and tried to open the website of the IndiaWilds I discovered to my astonishment that the site had crashed due to up-gradation of software! Sabyasachida has left some comments with heartfelt apologies “As you know, for the smooth running of the IndiaWilds Forums, we keep on updating the software and till date it has worked fine without you guys noticing. In this respect, no news is good news. However, this time we need to inform you about a software upgrade related hitch.
We had upgraded …. posts made after 21st cannot be retrieved.....”. What is worse, I found that the valuable comments that Sabyasachida made on my article was no more there. Those comments could not be recovered afterwards.

I have many such nostalgic memories with the IndiaWilds website since the last four years. That was from this website that I became inspired to study the behavioural activities of the birds. Now I remember that I wrote that article on was the “Take off mechanism of Grey Herons” about three years ago and that I was greatly pleased to have worked on that behavior of the birds. As I was going through that article once again many things came to my mind. In our present context where every day is bringing new changes to our lives, three years is indeed a very long time. It is really an uphill task to adhere to a hobby, to a good intention and above all, to continue the untiring pursuit to follow your dream for four long years. But IndiaWilds has done just that. It has shown the right direction to many of its followers.

In the course of time I don’t know when my love for birds has taught me to soar high in the sky just as an airplane flies off after a spell of running in the ground, just as the species of birds spread their wings after taking off. Almost all men in some point of time in their lives have thought how exciting it would have been if they had wings like the birds and could have flown like them. At the end of some days when we are in a remorseful mood, or out of a longing to go and meet our dear and near ones or to watch this beautiful world from the sky almost all of us have more than once in our lives missed the wings that the birds have. We carry through all our lives a fantasy of how we will be able to fly like the birds.

The ability to fly is an important characteristic of the birds. Birds are birds because they can fly and all their glory is mostly in their act of flying. But they have not acquired the ability of flying in a single day. They have taken millions of years to make the first flight off the ground. Most of us know that history, but what are the different techniques of flying? How do they fly? How do they start flying and remain hovering in the sky and again come down to the ground again? How do they travel thousands of miles from one part to go to some other part of the world? There are many such questions and many more answers to those questions. Many ornithologists around the world have and have been doing extensive research works on flights of the birds. In our country the amount of work done on this topic is very negligible. Satish Dhawan, a very celebrated aerospace scientist has written on the different mechanisms of flying of the birds in his book “How birds fly”. But to me that was a detail and quite complicated conglomeration of physics and the physiology of the birds.

The mechanism of the flights of birds has many stages. The first stage is to overcome the gravitational pull of the earth and fly upwards in the sky what is known as “take off”. The second stage is to remain at a same place in the sky, that is, hovering. Kingfisher are frequently seen to hover in the sky just before they fix a target for preying. The third stage is to spread the two wings widely and then to float in the air which is known as gliding. The fourth stage is to flap the wings to fly in the sky, that is, flapping flight. The fifth and the last stage is to come down to the ground or landing. Here I will discuss about the first stage only, that is, taking off, same as my above mentioned article. But this time my discussion will be on a different bird which is Great Indian Hornbill (GIH).

I took the pictures In the Manas National Park which occupies a lion’s share of my love for the wild. In the chilling cold of January in Bansbari Range obscured by layers of fog and in the drizzling rain that was acting as a deterrent I was travelling on a Gypsy and was capturing the fast moving moments in my camera. It was not exactly behaviour documentation what I was doing but the course of events made it so. The male bird was sitting below the female one. The chorus of the some teenagers somewhat perturbed the birds and the male flown away.

Samrat Sarkar
10-05-2018, 06:03 PM
The first thing it did was to give a forceful thrust on the dry branch of the tree inclining its body at 45 degree with the horizontal.

Samrat Sarkar
10-05-2018, 06:04 PM
As the wings are fully spread it becomes ready to make the down stroke with the feather of the tail widely spread on both sides.

Samrat Sarkar
10-05-2018, 06:05 PM
The next stroke is with the outer portion of the wings in downward direction, but this time a little deeper than the previous one.

Samrat Sarkar
10-05-2018, 06:06 PM
The next move is the upstroke again fully spreading the wings on both sides.

Samrat Sarkar
10-05-2018, 06:09 PM
The next down stroke was more deeper and by which it went away out of my sight.

Samrat Sarkar
10-05-2018, 06:17 PM
Though it would not be wise to make a conclusion about take off simply by viewing some pictures, still we can draw some observational inferences in general.
Just before take off the GIH use their legs to fly in the air. Here the bird was confident that the branch of tree it was on was strong enough.

I noticed that like other birds the GIH never take their wings above their bodies to make upstrokes. The glide in the air to some distance spreading their legs on both sides. This is a unique characteristic of the GIH.

When they intend to cover small distances as in this case where its flight ended in a big tree in front of it, they do not use their full wings to make deep down strokes; they rather use the outer and smaller part of their wings to make smaller down strokes.

Birds fly and go away beyond our vision. What remains are the memories of the past as the branch of tree which the bird left from. Those memories of the past help us to understand and to determine what the next flight should be like, and how to come out of the jargon of science and to cherish in the mind the grandeur of the magnificence that the small moments in the nature provide us. There should not be any hurry to make a unique conclusion, nor any urge to make some unique discovers, but there should only be some confident and yellow steps to move forward in the lackluster canvas of our daily life, as yellow as the IndiaWilds.

Photographed, Written in Bengali by Samrat Sarkar.
Translation into English by Biswajit Debnath:001_smile:.
Equipment used - Canon EOS 7D + Canon 500mm f4 + Monopod

Mrudul Godbole
11-05-2018, 09:59 AM
Very interesting observations and lovely photographs to support them. I particularly liked the one with the GIB wings fully spread. The Hornbill is an amazing bird to observe and photograph. Very nicely written article.

Sorry about the post which you lost in the upgrade, we tried to retrieve the posts as best we could, but some of these software glitches are beyond our control :(.

Look forward to more such interesting natural history articles. Thanks for sharing.

Samrat Sarkar
22-05-2018, 02:36 PM
Thanks a lot Mrudul ji for your appreciations. IndiaWilds is that open forum where I always try to share my natural history works.
Honourable viewers may see this link where Sabyasachi da made some valuable comments in this regards. Indeed, IndiaWilds has been helping me in various way to learn about wildlife of our country.



Sabyasachi Patra
29-05-2018, 10:54 AM
I am always happy if someone can get inspired. We all know that one man cannot do everything himself. Together we can overcome difficult challenges. When many people get inspired to focus on wilderness and wildlife and start spreading the word, then the masses will follow. Our politicians will only follow the masses and will try to save things which can are valued by masses (read voters). Keep on photographing, documenting and writing, especially in vernacular languages so that it reaches wider audience.