When nature showed off

When nature showed off

Super Blue Blood Moon Eclipse 2018

As darkness descended, the whole street was redolent with small, flashy bulbs. A big, fat, Punjabi wedding was on and the whole neighbourhood was decked up in celebration. The screeches got louder and more insistent. I ventured onto the balcony to see what the ruckus was all about. And there, I saw them, two owls darting helter-skelter. I had been hearing their calls for a few nights but hadn’t been able to spot them, till then.

The bling of the decorative lights exposed the twosome to me but had also in the process, unfortunately, distressed the stunning creatures of the penumbra. Their high decibels continued till the illuminations bathed the place. They even barged against my balcony door once in the dead of the small hours, disoriented as they clearly were.

The distraught pair scraped hard their lithe, feathered figures against the iron grille frame, making a blood-curdling, ungodly clatter. Their cries grew somewhat fainter the following nights as the lights went off, literally, on the festivities with only a feeble lamp-post glowing up the thoroughfare. Their sight after the first glimpse eluded me, though.  

I headed for the terrace. I was in for a double treat. The moon had risen and was about to put on a rare cosmic display. Soon, it turned a pale orange, a blood moon — a super, blue moon, fully eclipsed. The earth’s shadow had splayed across our one and only satellite a coppery hue (blood moon) just as it was near its closest orbit point to our planet, seemingly looking bigger (super moon) on the second full moon of the month (blue moon). As I gazed at the celestial show-stopper, a regal sight to behold, with the earth’s shadow gradually retreating and the moon progressively getting back its sheen, a familiar shriek beckoned me.

Another surprise lay in store; this too, a pleasant one. As I squinted into the sweeping swathes of darkness beyond, the winged beauties showed themselves to me. The male, the larger one, was perched on the woody, leafless neem tree right in front of me, perfectly camouflaged, his petite partner, fluttering close-by. They were barn owls, ash-coloured with a near-perfect heart-shaped visage. They made a gorgeous couple.    

The birder in me was exhilarated. The delectably adorable duo had made themselves at home in my neighbourhood, and were nesting somewhere close-by, probably in the vacant flat right opposite mine. I was over the moon.

I gawked at the silhouettes, drooling. The intrepid fellow ogled back at me, bobbing his head sideways from time to time like a blue-blooded Bharatnatyam dancer. His better half whizzed past him a few times, squealing as if complaining, probably mad at him, before leaving him in the lurch. The poor thing had to stay put at the same spot all night long, apparently chucked out by wifey dear, his head hung low, sulking with only the super moon for company.  

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