Saturday, September 24, 2005

The Bonsai tray which became a birdbath

I do not know how I had got the idea. I had gone to a nursery to buy some plants when I saw this bonsai tray without any holes in its base. The side walls of this oval shaped clay tray were about 2 inches high. "Just the height that the article in the magazine had recommended for a birdbath" I told myself. The birdbath came home on the floorboard of the scooter. "Good that this model of scooter has hand brakes," I told myself. I wouldn't have been able to transport it if I had gone on the scooter my brother has left behind at home.

The place chosen for the birdbath was under the guava tree in the garden. The response was fantastic from day one. I remember seeing babblers, doves, sparrows, red vented bulbuls, mynahs and brahminy mynahs. The babblers, bulbuls and house sparrows even bathe in it. The babblers really make a lot of noise. They deserve their name. It is quiet a sight to see them enjoying themselves. I really enjoy listening to the laughter of children when they see the birds splashing water. My mother swears she saw a cobra drinking water from the bath. I have seen a cobra every year in our garden. This is usually after the rains are over. I am not sure whether my mother really saw one dinking water from the bird bath or she saw it as it went by the tray. A strange thrill and fear run through me when I think of it.

Once, during the height of the summers when the temperatures had crossed forty degrees celsius I happened to lift the tray and check beneath. I was stunned by what I saw. Thanks to the fact that the tray is made of clay a sufficient amount of moisture always seeped through the pores and kept the soil moist. This moisture was just enough to keep the earthworms alive and healthy. As a matter of fact to say that I was stunned would be a big understatement. That was the height of summer and there was not a blade of grass to be seen anywhere. Wriggling earhworms were the last thing I would have expected to see in that heat. It is good I had made sure that the bath never went dry. I have seen termites eating up the earthworms. I remember that they are a rich source of proteins! The fact that they are below the tray keeps the earthworms safe from birds. If only the birds knew what treasures lay beneath their drinking water!

This incident had happened three years ago and the tray continues to be in the same place. The bulbuls and sparrows and doves and babblers continue to come. I even remember seeing a black pheasant crow some months ago. The cobra hasn't yet made an appearance, but I am hopeful that Nagraj, the lord of snakes, will not disappoint me. And yes, every now and then I see a dog coming and lapping up the water. Very unfair, I feel, as they leave hardly any for the birds. That is why I try to ensure that the tray is never without water in it. Let me see which birds come today. Will inform all of you out there if I see any new species.


Blogger vi said...

aawwwaa so sweet!
A question don't they litter your garden?
When my mom was visiting me here she would place water and birdfeed for the pigeons but they littered the balcony so much...
I don't feed them...and my balcony seems to be getting dirtier even though i clean it every weekend...maybe they are taking revenge!


7:18 PM  
Blogger Dev said...

Hi vi. I can see the birdbath as I sit here reading yr comment. Luckily it is not a verandah or terrace and the droppings just merge with the soil. Just saw a red vented bulbul splashing about and giving vent (pun intended) to his feelings. Those pigeons sure know how to bug you don't they? :)))

1:46 AM  
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