Birding is addictive. Most often, one requires to wake up early, travel some distance to see birds in action for youngsters. Fox Sagar is one such location. Behind the vibrant pictures are sweat, toil and more importantly compassion for the winged birds. In one such instance, two youths spared no effort in getting a Cormorant its wings back after being entangled in the net.
“I was clicking other birds and this Cormorant caught my attention. I realised it was just flapping its wings but not moving even an inch,” recalls Robin, who first spotted the bird entangled. He could not go near the bird as he was not aware how deep the waters are. He then sent message about the plight of the bird to Hyderabad Birding Pals (HBP) group on WhatsApp and help was on its way instantly.
Responding to the message, HBP member KalyanIneni got in touch with another birder, AlnoorRajwani, who reached Fox Sagar in about 15 minutes.
The duo, Robin and Rajwani, made some efforts to reach the bird, but in vain. It was time to seek help from others. They approached the washermen and fishermen, but they were not so inclined to take the trouble. But perhaps convinced with the anguish of the photographer duo, they agreed to lend them a floater which could be used to reach the bird. “That was a big help actually”, recalls Robin one of the youngsters.
Though the solution was in sight, it could have been tricky and dangerous and none of them paddled the floater before. But Rajwani mustered his courage and took to the floater and paddled to the middle of the lake.
“This was the first time that I was on a floater. I only had a basic idea of how one should operate it. So I started to paddle and lost balance once and almost fell into the water. I now realize how difficult it is to paddle the floater”, an excited but contended Rajwani narrates. “In the worst case scenario, I could swim back to the shore, but I was determined to save the bird,” said one of the youngsters.
Once he reached the small patch of floating plants where the Cormorant was apparently stuck in nets, there were unforeseen problems. “We do not know for how long the Cormorant was entangled. But it looked very angry. It did not allow me to touch it first. I snapped the net with the scissors that I carried. But that freed only one leg. While attempting to free the second leg, the frightened bird pecked me multiple times.” True to the adage that necessity is the mother of invention, Rajwani thought of a quick solution. He took out a piece of thermocol and stuck it in the bird’s beak just to ensure that it did not peck him again.
Using a pair of scissors, he cut loose the legs of the Cormorant.
As this Good Samaritan act was going on, Robin who was on the shore went on a clicking spree. Equipped with Nikon fixed with a telephoto lens, he shot a sequence of photos of the great rescue attempt by Rajwani.
Robin, who works as a project manager in an IT company, says the plight of the trapped Cormorant did not go unnoticed by other birds. “We saw a Grey Heron dropping a dead fish multiple times near the Cormorant. Our only reasoning is that the Grey Heron wanted to feed the Cormorant. While prey slipping away from beak is not unnatural, we have seen the Grey Heron deliberately dropping the fish (near the Cormorant),” he says.