Monday, July 27, 2015


It is no wonder that one can easily spot birds and their nests at the Orcas Island. With an area of 57 square miles, it has only 4894 residents staying on it. Which means minimum disturbance from the human species.
I was walking down the path from Cherry Hill along the bay when I saw this tree with a black patch on it. 

Initially I thought it was a black patch, but was wondering how it could be a perfect round. 

I stopped and was intently gazing upon it when out popped a head of a young one. 

And therein started my saga with the young ones and their mother. 
Daily morning I used to be there with my camera to get some good shots/videos of the young one. 

Within the next four days I realised that there were three of them in that cavity though I could not get all three in a shot (managed to get them in the video) 

(I don’t know if there were more than three) At times they would lean out a lot waiting for their mother 

While scanning higher up on the same tree, I found another hole, probably occupied by another clutch from the earlier mating season. It is interesting to see the different marks and patterns on the bark. 

On the first day I did not see the mother. I could spend only about an hour daily as there were other places to be explored on the island, including whale watching (will write about that later)
On the second day I did spot the mother and captured (on video) how she signaled to the young ones to keep quiet, so as not to give away their hiding place.

After seeing the mother I realised that it’s a Northern Flicker Woodpecker, found mostly in the northern parts of America. They have got barred upper parts and spotted underparts. The “Black Bib” on the upper chest is very prominent with a red malar (moustache)  
The little guy sort of got used to me hanging around and did not mind

 All pictures and videos were captured from a distance (about 20 meters) Have put together all the interesting parts of the mother and the chicks to make a short video on it. 

I have kept the ambient sound as it is, so you will mostly hear the blue north western Pacific waters lapping away at the bay. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Cherry Hill at Orcas Island

Had been to the Orcas islands two weeks ago. What a wonderful place. 
Like they say, getting there is half the fun. There is this bus from Seattle airport that takes you to the Anacortes Ferry point. 

From there the Washington State Ferry takes you across to the island in about an hour.

You can be on the outer deck to take in the view 

If the wind is too chilly you can while away your time at the lower deck trying to fix the jig saw (it is large and you may succeed in assembling just a part of it in an hour)

 Once you disembark you can pick up a rental car. The drive from the ferry point to the place where we stayed was just marvelous.   

The cottage that we stayed in  - Cherry Hill Cottage 

and the view from the window   

If you care to step out you get to see this 

A wonderful place to relax. You can spend the afternoon under a tree reading a book 

or just laze in the evening looking at the setting sun filtering through the leaves 

  The cottage has a fully equipped kitchen with all the required amenities that one needs for a stay.

The rooms were tastefully decorated and a special mention should be made about the different types of flower arrangement in each room. I was taken in by the array of books that they have stocked. Three binoculars for bird watching. Talking of bird watching, I spotted some in and around the area. 

Racoons, rabbits and deer were the order of the day. 

The deer just waits for someone to forget to close the garden gate, and hence this sign 

We made friends with the horse at the neighbouring stable. So every day in the evening we used to amble over to say hi to him 

When we reached Cherry Hill Cottage we found this note by the owner: 

Thanks Marilyn and Jerry Eisner for giving us this wonderful opportunity to relax.

Made a small video of the ferry. 

By the way on the pathway to Cherry Hill Cottage I stumbled upon this Woodpecker’s nest. More on the chicks and their mother in my next blog.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Kaaka Muttai

Recently a friend of mine told me that there was this cute movie that was running in town and I must see it. "Don't worry, even if it is in Tamil, it has subtitles in English and one can follow the story easily" she said.
It has been a long time since I saw a Tamil movie, so I thought why not give it a go.
Before I start off, let me warn you, this movie has no villain, no fight scenes, no car chase, no item numbers, no song and dance, no famous actors, but still it is so entertaining that you will recommend it to others.
Released this month, it is a simple story about two young boys who have a goal to achieve and how they go about it.

Small incidents make you laugh, but then you realise that they are true to life and very convincing. It is light, easy and enjoyable.
Take for instance the granny who takes it on herself to make a Pizza at home and tries to replicate it by looking at the picture of a Pizza on the handbill.

Or for the matter, the boys try to sell their dog at the same price as the pug which was bought by their "rich" friend

The boys (acted by Vignesh and Ramesh) have given their best and they have acted as if there was no camera. Dhoni who saw the movie said that it would help if all Tamil cinemas had subtitles by which anyone could see the movie.

Keep a watch on the facial expressions of the little boy (Ramesh)

Selecting the cast to play the supporting role also makes a difference as each one fits the role perfectly. Ramesh Thilak who is actually a radio jockey, plays one of the roles.

Special mention should be made about Iyshwarya Rajesh who plays the mother.

Her intense performance reminded me of Smita Patil who could emote with her face.

Credit goes to each and every department, like the make up man who could transform Iyshwarya from this 

to this:

Glimpses of Peepli Live can be seen in Kaaka Muttai where a small incident is blown up by the politicians and the media for their personal gain. 

I think all the credit should go to Manikandan who has written and directed the movie. This is his maiden film as a director.
The movie has already fetched two awards.
National Film Award for Best children's film and National Film Award for best child artists.

The musical score by Prakash Kumar is another feather in the cap. I just loved it. 
You can see snippets of the movie here (along with the music)

The camera movements (especially in the slums) were real smooth while following the characters

The friendship of the character above with the boys reminded me of the story of Kabuliwala.
The best part I liked was the exchange of dialogue at the end between the boys. It is exactly how I felt when I had pizza for the first time (and the last time)

I say, if Slumdog Millionaire could fetch eight academy awards, then by any yardstick this movie should fetch more than eight.

 all the above pictures are from the internet