Indian Rollers and Bee-eaters

I used to go out late in the afternoons and look for two species of birds, one called the Indian Roller. The Indian roller is brilliantly colored having bright green feathers on its body and reddish purple feather on the wing. The top of his head is also brilliantly colored. It is about the size of a pigeon and it is called roller, because at times when flying in the air it will tumble and roll over and over and over and at the time it is tumbling is the time to shoot it. This is a difficult feat.

The other bird is the Bee-eater. This bird is long beaked, somewhat smaller than the Indian-roller, with a bright orange breast and blue head and tail. Its wings are tipped with red. The natives consider it a pest because it eats the grapes and figs from the gardens. They frequently invaded the fig groves, and while there, it was considered the right thing to do, to shoot them. The Bee-eaters, however, were doing nothing but eating the insects which infested the gardens. Nevertheless, this bird was very good to eat. Frequently, after securing several of these birds, I would find myself at a distance from the village and would go to a hut of one of the watchers [ referred to in "The Drum" ], in a garden which was a favorite haunt of mine. This garden was on the steep side of a hill, which sloped down to a deep ravine and from here to a gurgling mountain stream. Opposite, towered hills and cliffs, heavily wooded. On my arrival at the hut I would run down and get a jug full of cold spring water from the nearby mountain spring and would build a fire. The watcher would supply the black bread and native cheese. A repast unequalled! Occasionally at the end of the meal my friend would take his flute and play the most weird and minor sounds which fascinate one in this country of weird and exotic surroundings.

[ originally appended to The Drum and labelled "Another Story" ]

by Robert Chambers ęCopyright 2001