Nature notes from John Holt
3rd November – Mumbai (India) international airport BA198 for Heathrow has just gone technical so we won’t be travelling today! I am beginning to believe I have this effect on aeroplanes.
We have been in Northern India mainly in the farming areas and quite amazing countryside. The scene here is much the same as it must have been in UK between the wars where the tractor and the combine was taking over from the horse (in India the bullock) and farm labour. Here too the tractor is becoming the favoured tool and many can be seen on the delivery lorries up and down the state. The tractor, like the four wheel drive and the TV, changes the environment forever, reducing the need for farm labour and forcing families to look to the towns and industry to earn a living.
We were surprised at the flatness of the countryside anticipating mountains and desert scrub but finding long areas of immaculately tilled flat fields growing all manner of vegetables and cattle feed crops. Most of the places we stopped at had their own veg for the meals.
We stayed lakeside and forest side and were not surprised but disappointed to learn from our guides about the reduction in migratory birds that has happened over the last ten years – a relatively short time to measure reduction so they must be severe – we at home have the same problem but few seem to notice.
We came to see forts and game reserves – I am definitely forted out – no more please despite their magnificence and history. A country continually at war it would seem – ring a bell anywhere?
We managed Tiger, Leopard, Wild Boar, various dear species and seeing them in their natural environment was a privilege. The Tiger up close, maybe width of Hunton Down Lane away, it’s a majestic animal of quiet menacing power. I felt for him as he went up the track with barely a sideways glance at us, remembering the pictures in the hotels and ex-hunting lodges of men and guns and dead tigers. How proud we must be to have brought this animal and many others to near extinction in the course of less than 150 years.
04 November – back home, Muntjack in the field, ponds filling up and sign of first frosts, reality rules I guess. Anyone seen any Starlings (pictured)?
Image of Starling from www.rspb.org.uk