During one of my many meaningless browsing sessions through absolutely unconnected and random sites (as one is wont to do in the hostel), I stumbled upon a 2009 WWF report on the biodiversity in the IITB campus. It was a long, long report, with no photographs and lots of data and I soon got bored. But I gleaned something from it – there are over a hundred species of birds in the campus and about 85 species of butterflies. This was unbelievable, to say the least, for I did in no way remember seeing more than 20 kinds of birds I guess till then and had identified even less. So started my journey in looking for these elusive birds and photographing them. Butterflies were entirely not on my mind. I was absolutely sure I would never be able to photograph these tiny, flighty, delicate creatures who always seemed to be busy fluttering.
The Ficus tree at Kshitij adjoining the IITB Hospital was abuzz with activity. The Coppersmith Barbet, Mumbai’s official City Bird, rang out its tuk tuk tuk tuk call as it bobbed its head from side to side. Not far away, a male Oriental Magpie-Robin sang uninterrupted, its attention focused entirely on the female close by. The male followed his mate from branch to branch with a string of persuasive, imploring notes, sometimes choosing the highest vantage point for a perfect delivery.
One of the most beautiful trees in the IIT Bombay campus (and it is hard to pick one!) is the Sita Ashoka (Sarca indica). There aren’t too many of them but one finds this tree in different parts of the campus – a prominent one between Gulmohur and the Staff Club and another strikingly beautiful one tumbling onto the road between Tansa and H5. The tree is arrestingly lovely, when in full bloom.