Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Twenty-two SMS on my mobile and 12 e-mails wishing me Happy New Year reminded me that today is the first day of yet another new year in my life. Every one of the SMS and every single email had one thing in common - each one of them wished me a Happy New Year; not one of them cared to ask me if my past year was a happy one. But I want to tell you that my past year has been a happy one - not because I won a lottery or that I built a house or that I acquired a new car, but because the only way I lived my life is  - HAPPILY! And I can guarantee you that my coming year, or the year that is already here will be a happy one too. The reason is simple.

My happiness is of my own making; I am happy because it is in my disposition to be happy. I am happy because I have not allowed any one - repeat ANYONE - to dissuade me from making the pursuit of happiness as my single minded goal in life. I refuse to believe that there is virtue in surrendering my happiness because someone else does not have the wherewithal to understand that I am not responsible for his or her happiness. Each one of us has to understand what makes us happy and pursue it with dedication.

I am happy because I have learnt a long time back that happiness is all about being content with the things I have, rather than be woeful about the things I do not have. I have come to terms with the fact that in life, there is not a single person who can claim to have all that he desires. It is for the reason that it is impossible to have everything I want, that it makes the things I have so much more meaningful and precious.

I am happy because I do not allow myself to be bothered by what could have been - what is in the past is gone and done with. No amount of regret or repentance is going to help. Similarly, I do not allow myself to be robbed of my today’s happiness because of the dread of tomorrow’s uncertainty. Tomorrow is in the future and there may never be a tomorrow for me. But if it does come, I have the confidence that I will conquer tomorrow the way I have done all my more than half a century of yesterdays - with confidence and happiness.

There is only one thing I worry about: have I made a difference in someone’s life? Have I given freely to those who stand in need - that which I possess and can spare? Have I been true to myself and to my responsibilities as a member of the human society?

I am HAPPY to say YES, I have!

Wishing every one near me and around me and to all those across the seven seas, A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Avian Mating Ritual

As a rule, when I carry along my camera gear with me, it is usually because I am set on photographing some specific subject at a specific location. Contrary to what people believe, I do not carry around the excess baggage because I hope that I will stumble onto something interesting to photograph. However, it does happen that there are times when I do stumble onto something quite unexpected, that which I had not planned on. So it was for me, last May, 2011.

During end April and early May of 2011, I was camped at Yongkala in Mongar Dzongkhang - photographing birds. Early morning of May 1, 2011, I drove out of my camp and started a slow drive towards Lemithang - looking for birds to photograph. My beanbag was placed on the seat to my left; the Wimberly was mounted on my Gitzo tripod and was laid across my car's back seat. The Canon EOS 50D was firmly attached to my latest acquisition - the Canon 800mm super telephoto lens.

Precisely at 5:47:54 AM, I noticed a male Scarlet Minivet (Pericrocotus flammeus) perched on the pinnacle of a tree crown about 200 ft. away from me. As I prepared to photograph it, it began to send out a series of calls. I waited and watched. I wondered if he was calling out to a prospective mate in the vicinity. I was right - the fella’s hormones were at a boil.

After few minutes, a female appeared and perched on a branch of another tree close by.

The next few minutes were spent in the ritualistic game of the male chasing after the female and, she making a show of running away from him. The mating game had started in real earnest!

After about 20 minutes of fleeting from tree top to tree top, they returned to the same tree from where they originally started off with their mating game. I cannot be sure but after a while, the male seems to have sensed that the female was now ready to accept his advances.

At this point, the male selected and bit off a small piece of delicate and tender leaf from a nearby tree and, bearing it in between his beaks, landed on the same branch the female was perched on. He did not land very close to the female - but made sure that he kept a safe distance from her.

The female seemed calm and so he began a series of mating dances to entice the female.

He moved from side to side, he spread and flapped his wings and he broke into a rhythmic jig - still bearing the piece of leaf in between his beaks. After a while, the female lowered her body slightly which seemed to indicate to the male that she was now ready to mate with him.

Still bearing the piece of leaf in between his beaks, he mounted her and, in a flurry of motions, the act of mating was over.

He dismounted her and placed the piece of leaf to the left of her and flew off.

The female picked up the leaf and began to peck at it until it was fully consumed.

My camera records show that the entire act of courtship and mating lasted a full 47 minutes - it started at: Sunday, May 01, 2011, 5:47:52 AM and the last frame of the photo was shot at: Sunday, May 01, 2011, 6:34:02 AM.

Did you know?
Like in the human world, it is most often the male birds that make the first move in the game of courtship. True to character, the female birds begin by acting coy and giving a hard time to their male suitors. The male birds entice the females in a variety of ways: some build nests, some offer food and others sing and dance to attract the females.

New technology of DNA fingerprinting has revealed that the female birds are as monogamous as their human counterparts - it has been proven that some of the eggs produced by a female bird have been sired by someone other than her regular partner. DNA evidences have proven that chicks from single nests had been fathered by different males. This means that two-timing exists in the avian world as well.

Scientists have discovered that avian divorces are pretty common; necessitated, most often, by failure to rear offsprings. 

Musings: I was intrigued that the male did not part with his tofa (gift) of green leaf until after he got what he was after – clearly proving the veracity of my late boss’ dictum that; “No deal is confirmed until the cash is firmly in the pocket.”

Sunday, February 5, 2012

India's Most Beautiful Birds

Two years back, Sumit K. Sen, one of India’s foremost birders set himself the task of finding out which of the over 1,250 bird species found in India is considered the most beautiful. He got 38 birders to short list 10 of India’s prettiest birds. Thereafter, he put them to open vote. The process is described here:

He received a total of 544 votes. The stunning Himalayan Monal, (Lophophorus impejanus) took first place:

The second place went to Fire-tailed Myzornis (Myzornis pyrrhoura):

 Both of the above birds are found in Bhutan. In fact, the image of the Fire-tailed Myzornis was photographed by me. It was shot at Dochu-La in the winter of 2007.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Attempt At World Record

I am happy to confirm that I have today submitted my entry to the Guinness World Records for the consideration of the colony of bee hives at Zhemgang as the largest colony of bee hives in existence. The following is the summary of my claim:

Summary Claim Details

Claim Title            :    Largest colony of bee hives at one location
Country                 :    Bhutan
City/Town/Village :    Thimphu
Date of attempt     :    02 February 2012
Record Details    :    I, Mr. Yeshey Dorji from Bhutan is attempting to establish a world record that a colony of honey bee hives located at a place called Zhemgang, Bhutan is the largest colony of bee hive in existence. In support of the claim, I will submit a photographic evidence of the occurrence. I hope to establish the record through physical verification and enumeration. I am doing this in the hope that this natural phenomenon can be declared a Natural Heritage Site and thus, accord preservation and protection to the habitat surrounding the site. It is a small attempt at conservation of the natural environment.

Media          :    I have no sponsor. I will invite local media - print and visual.

As on now, I have been accorded a unique Claim ID as follows:

ARRA WebClaim ID :    387779

Now I will have to await confirmation from the GWR that they will or, will not, consider my entry. I am told it will take anywhere between 4-6 weeks.

I will keep you posted.