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The Trials and Tribulations of Stick Duck

We've been watching 'Stick Duck' for over a month as he toiled tirelessly right outside our balcony in the marina lake moving sticks around.  He fetched the sticks from the other side of the lake, or from the lake bed diving deep down and reappearing with a prized stick in his mouth.  The sticks tended to be double his size and we watched as his little beak strained to hold onto them.  But his hard work paid off and we were treated to see a nest emerge just under the next door neighbour's mooring.  We can only glimpse the side of the nest from our vantage point but Stick Duck was clearly going to impress some female very soon!

Stick Duck isn't actually a duck but a coot, he is all black with a distinctive white forehead.  Coots are also the smallest of the waterbirds that reside in the marina making his endeavours even more remarkable to watch. 

We were mightily impressed by Stick Duck's work and undoubtedly Stick Duck must've been to.  But then, a week ago the marina lake received a couple of visitors.  These two visitors, Great Crested Grebes, started to hang around the lake by Stick Duck's nest.  They were double the size of Stick Duck and double the number.  In our naivety we thought nothing on it but they had other intentions.  What happened next broke our hearts. 

Over the course of two days a battle ensued between the two Grebes and Stick Duck and culminated this morning.  I caught the fight from the kitchen window

Stick Duck was no match for these two and despite putting on a very aggressive show he was evicted from his nest that he spent the last month making.  The two Grebes didn't waste any time and have started to increase the size of the nest at an industrial pace. 

As for Stick Duck, he spent some time in the area, watching from afar... but now has gone elsewhere. :(

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Andaman Islands: Weeks 3-4

The Andaman Islands are the tropical paradise that they are made out to be. The fine, white, sandy, palm tree fringed beaches are heavenly and the sea a balmy 28 degrees. Although the archipelago consists of hundreds of islands only about 17 are accessible to tourists (without their own boat), Indian and foreigner alike. Geographically the islands are more south east Asia than India, anthropologically they are even further removed - the indigenous population are neither South East Asian nor Indian. Their language descends from a unique historical tree as well as their genealogy. Sadly the cat and mouse games played by the various super powers over the ages have rendered these populations insignificant and their numbers remain in decline. Recently attempts have been made to repair the damage that colonisation has wrecked on these populations and certain measures have been put into place: tourists can only travel to only a few islands, contact with indigenous populations is prohibited and so too is venturing into their territories. But as is often the case, these actions are too little and too late and the majority of the indigenous populations are on a downward slide. Just recently their was the much publiscised case of the last surviving member of the Bo tribe passing away, taking with her a 65000 year of language and history. Instead the main inhabitants of the islands these days are immigrants from the main land. Some have moved over as refugees, others as a deal with the government. These second and third generation immigrants provide all the businesses on the tourist islands. Although tourist numbers are increasing, it is still fairly easy to find a piece of paradise for yourself. :-)

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The Present of Travelling

Tourists gather in a small hotel lobby where wifi is available to connect with their lives. Even though one can physically be thousands of miles away from the strifes of modern life, one's mind, for better or for worse, does not stray more than a click away. Pondicherry, India


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Kumbh Mela 2013

The Kumbh Mela was a fascinating experience. I had the opportunity of being part of the largest procession in the world on the 10th February, the most auspicious day in the Hindu calander for the last 144 years. Follow my day by day posts on the links below. Day 7Day 6Day 5Day 4Day 3Day 2Day 1

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Varanasi: First Look

Varanasi is, in a nutshell, a great big cauldron of excrement and faith. People's devotion and the colours, though, make this a photographers dream and never before have I seen so many dreadlocks and extremely expensive cameras in one place. More pictures at:


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Finding Richard Parker

Tigers are extremely elusive, preferring the dense foliage of the forest to any open space where we could spot them from. But this tiger, in his charity offered us a little spy window through the trees where we could just make out his stripes - his camoflage failing - but only if one knows specifically where to look. He was pretty far off and all I could really see were some stripes in the forest which, to be honest, weren't so impressive. But then when the elephant trackers went too close he let out a tremendous roar that reverberated throughout the jungle and struck deep down into my core; rattling my bones and sending my soul cowering into a dark corner. This is without doubt the most impressive sound I have ever heard!

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