On The Beach in Kochi, India

KeralaBeach600-2Kochi Beach – Oil Painting, Pat Meier-Johnson

They looked like confetti. Crowds of families wading in the shallow waters of Kochi, just a short distance from the giant fairy-blue fishing nets of this port city in southwest India. Holding their peacock-colored saris up just above the water line, women shared some time off with their boyfriends, children or friends.

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Tigers & Twitchers: India’s Corbett Tiger Reserve

 Conservation International documents a tiger kill near India’s Corbett National Park Photo: Russell Johnson

“What’s is it?” I asked Mandip, pointing into the jungle brush. “No big deal, just an LBJ,” he replied.

“LBJ?”

“Little Brown Job, a bird of no significance to a twitcher.”

I would make a dreadful birdwatcher. I am not by nature a twitcher, someone who compiles lists of bird sightings like John Wayne carved notches on the handle of his Winchester. I organize my life with Post-Its, which blow around my office like autumn leaves. Also, most birds are small and fast, too quick for this lumbering mammal. But India’s Corbett Tiger Reserve is a prime place for birders with some 580 brands including Himalayan Kingfishers, Great Hornbills, and Blue-bearded Bee-eaters. So the birders head off in one jeep, in search of the Hair-crested Drongo while the rest of us Jim Corbett wannabees mount an elephant and a Landrover to search for fresh scat and pawprints, signs of the Royal Bengal Tiger.

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