The Deadly Roller
The heat had just begun to be an irritant at Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve. All morning I went dizzy circling the Telia lake in search for the Waghdoh hunk (the dominant male tiger of the region). Frantic alarm calls, the hustle of common teals, the odd raptor hovering over the lake for an early morning feast kept me busy for those crucial 3 hours. The king made a quite appearance and disappeared in the mysterious bamboo within seconds.
Tired of the hide and seek, I decided to move away from the lake and grab a bite for I had hardly eaten anything since morning. As I parked my vehicle on the side of the main Moharli road and started munching my sandwich, a beautiful Indian Roller (blue jay) landed right next to me and perched beautifully in morning light. A common bird in the forests and open fields of India, the roller looks attractive because of its colors.
I continued the munch admiring the colors shining brightly in front of me. Apart from the colors, a roller according to what I had observed in the past fed on insects like ants, cicadas etc. The flight of a roller was another reason why this bird always attracted my attention. However, when in the wild, all subjects should be taken seriously from a photographer’s perspective. Ignoring these basics, I continued munching and buttered another slice for myself.
Little did I know that this pint sized colorful beauty would display some extraordinary predatory skills that would sweep me off my feet. As I was half way through my munching act, this Indian Roller of Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve took off from the branch and grabbed hold of a field mouse.
I gobbled and with butter fingers picked up my equipments and started shooting. What I was wondering while looking through the lens was “how on earth would he treat this special prey?” The roller tossed the field mouse multiple times. A million thoughts were gushing through my head – would the mouse be torn apart to pieces? was this an accidental catch?
For the next 5 minutes the act of tossing was on and finally the roller decided to gobble the mouse just like I had finished the last bits of my sandwich.
It’s been an year since I witnessed this extraordinary act of an Indian Roller. Till date I always stop for a while and closely observe an Indian Roller in any forest of India… you never know what the next prey is!!!