Lifescapes Gallery

1 / Jun / 2011
The Shower Symphony
White-breasted Waterhen, Coorg
Sudhir Shivaram

The Shower Symphony

Most of us have a hidden spark of musical genius, often experienced by select audiences who’re left mesmerised by our lyrical effusion. Let’s not dwell on the small issue of the audience count numbering just one. For, in the world of the bathroom singer, one doesn’t allow annoying things like reality to intrude. In the marshlands of Coorg, there exists a Shower Singer beyond compare. Come the first hint of a pregnant cloud, and you’ll be treated to the latest jungle hits by one of the coolest Chicas in coffee country. The White-breasted Waterhen’s solo concert begins with a husky roar and ends with a rhythmic krr kwaak kwaak, (click for video) with trademarked croaks thrown in for effect, and can often last all night. Just like in our case, exuberance lords it over excellence and the more off-key the voice, the better the effect! While she belts out some of the most raucous metal albums, her sartorial sense is incongruously formal and she’s always seen in an impeccable white-breasted suit. When she’s not singing, she’s foraging, and her laterally flattened body skims through the undergrowth hunting for beetles and small aquatic titbits. Surprisingly for a ‘Water’hen, she’s a poor swimmer, and can be spotted literally treading on water, stepping gingerly from one lotus leaf to the other, before it sinks. She’s also a very feeble flyer and much prefers using her long legs to scamper up a tree or scrub, especially when a shower threatens, and she needs a bird’s eye view of her concert hall. But once you hear the Monsoon Minstrel’s full throated croaking, you feel a warm flush; a sense of reassurance that one doesn’t need to be a nightingale to be a singing star. The only stage you need is a shower…and yourself for company.

We at Orange County have loved sharing this story with you, and shall bring you one every fortnight, as part of our Responsible Tourism Initiatives to raise awareness about the nature and culture of the environments we operate in.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, June 1st, 2011 at 10:00 am and is filed under Birds . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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User Comments
  1. Vinod Kumar VK says:

    Wonderful capture.. rare to find in open areas.. very nicely captured by the Master!!

  2. Ved Prakash T. Nagpal says:

    Dear Sir,

    I express my sincere gratitude for your mail. The picture of White-breasted Waterhen, Coorg and information mentioned in this regard is worth praise. I appreciate from the core of my heart.Simple and common bird but looks beautiful and gorgeous through Sudhir’s lens

    With regards,

    Ved Prakash T. Nagpal
    Mob 09810134872

  3. Dr Sameer R. rao says:

    Simple and common bird but looks beautiful and gorgeous through Sudhir’s lense

  4. Devanand says:

    Wow! Brilliant copy! Yet again. Sir Rajesh, may thy humorous style of writing continue to give the Neil Frenches, Drogas and Abbots of the world sleepless nights. And the denizens of Coorg, worldwide fame.

  5. Dr. Satish Sharma says:

    Reminds me so much of my college days when I was the ultmate shower singer and would belt out Rafi and Mukesh hits the moment i had a shower. Good to know my tribe has company. Grt post and very tongue in cheek commentary accompanying a lucid image.

  6. Ragaoo Rao says:

    A fabulous Image of the shy..elusive bird. Great Shot.

  7. Vikram Nanjappa says:

    The White Breasted Waterhen is very silent in the dry season and thus liable to be overlooked. It is the commonest and most familiar member of the Rail family, less shy and secretive than most other Rails. Frequently found in the surroundings of villages. It’s stumpy tail is constantly jerked up and down as the bird slaunters about, flashing the chestnut tail coverts. The males fight over females during the breeding season but these fights are formalized and innocuous. Courtship involves bowing, billing and nibbling. The eggs hatch in about 19 days. Both sexes incubate the eggs and take care of the chicks. Chicks often dive underwater to escape predation.

    • Jose Ramapuram says:

      Thanks for the information Vikram :). This is a bird that has fascinated me from childhood. It can practically vanish inside a tiny little clump of colocasia. Amazing!

  8. Sheela Kedarinath says:

    Absolutely adore these posts of yours. Look forward to them all the time! Reminds me of a saying… We cannot direct the wind but can adjust our sails…. so let us start with that. My husband, daughter and I have been visiting OC every year or sometimes twice a year and the changes have always been for the better – whether it is do with Go Green or any other initiative. Kudos to you guys!
    Sheela and Kedi, OC members for 15 years now!

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