"On the earth the broken arcs; in the heaven a perfect round."
- Robert Browning
|Crimson-tailed Marsh Hawks form little earthly arcs as they clasp. Often, when mating dragonflies take wing together, they resemble some large composite monster|
I assure you that it was not on our agenda to find out, but without our asking the rainforest's little denizens put on an unabashed show just for us. Even a prude would have stopped to watch, and marvel at the minuscule arcs being etched in the great circle of life.
|Doing it on the hop...|
|...or on a twig|
Truth be told, I learned the facts of life long before my parents had the opportunity to tell me about the birds and bees. Ironically, I learned what I had to just by watching birds and bees, and other animals. By age seven, I had some very viable theories on reproduction, most of which led to "Aha, I told you so!" moments later on in life.
Something about animals (or was it something about me?) led them to perform without restraint before my eyes. And so, before I was myself of reproductive age I had witnessed, both in the wild and in captivity, the private moments of (in no particular order) chickens, quail, partridges, butterflies, dragonflies, mynas, peafowl, cats, crabs, squirrels, geese, donkeys, horses, elephants, monkeys, guinea pigs, rats, mice, pigeons, parakeets, sparrows, snakes, buffalos, cattle, pigs, goats, sheep, deer, gaur, nilgai, blackbuck, agamas, frogs, cockroaches, leopards, waterhens, fish...
Watching their complex (and, in some cases, extremely uncomplicated) courtship rituals was always fascinating, even if not in a voyeuristic way. With every year, I began to look forward to the monsoon that awakened a deep-seated love rush in all living things.
Three days and nights in Agumbe brought back so many childhood discoveries that it was like falling in love with love all over again.
While grasshoppers whirred underfoot, crickets kept up the chorus at night. In the murky nooks of the rainforest where we ventured gingerly, half-excited and half-fearful for the vipers that we were told lurked there, frogs were awake and lovesick enough to sing by day. At dusk their chorus mounted to a din above which you had to raise your voice to be heard. Frogs and toads clasped in the stagnant pools of rainwater. Grass stalks at the bottom of clear-flowing runnels were braided with spawn.
Wherever we looked, insects mated. Amorous flies buzzed love songs in our ears. Tiger Beetles tumbled on the ground, looking mean and aggressive even as they coupled. Katydids and grasshoppers hurried away to quieter corners at our approach.
Whether it was the unusual beauty of two bodies in harmony, or sheer zoopornographic glut, we the paparazzi stalked these lovelorn creatures and made a photographic feast of it. Here are the spoils for your vicarious enjoyment.
|Or in brazen defiance of gravity like these Handmaiden Moths|
|Clearly, we were not the only voyeurs|
Photos by Sahastrarashmi, Sandeep Somasekharan and Beej
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