There were Himalayan Monals, lots of them, calling in the valley below. A huge group of Himalayan vultures was fighting over, what appeared to be a carcass of a Sambhar. Golden morning light began to flood the otherwise chilly valley. A mixed group of tits, warblers, laughingthrushes, and Minlas were quenching their thirst from the snow, fallen on the ground. I had my 400mm mounted, but I just didn’t want to shoot.

I had this desperate longing to walk, not because I had to go somewhere, but just because I wanted to walk. With temperatures below zero, no soul would dare to venture the valley that early in the morning. Behind me, I could hear the faint sound of DJ’S blaring inside the cars parked at Chopta. People shouting and enjoying the cold beside a bonfire. But I was uninterested, my solace lied not near a bonfire, but here. A lone Himalayan tahr crossed the road right in front of me, and though it was perplexed and ran away as fast as it came, I was at peace.

As I wandered along the road, feeling the welcoming warmth of the sun, a patch along the road invited me. A strong longing to sit at the place filled my heart, so I sat. It was silent, as silent as Mother nature is. My breath and my heartbeat was the only sound that I could hear. Then suddenly there was a sound. A sound that I instinctively knew to be of a Himalayan Monal on a tree.

I looked and right in front of me was a Himalayan Monal looking apprehensively at me. But for some reasons it didn’t fly, it just kept staring. My camera was in my lap, but I just didn’t want to shoot. Seeing this bird right in front of me filled my heart with immense joy and euphoria.  I was enchanted, I was ecstatic, I felt complete. I felt so much love, tears welled up in my eyes.

We both looked at each other and none reacted. After some time, it began to feed. Gorging upon whatever insects and worms it could find in the bark of that tree. I kept looking hypnotized, admiring how captivating this guy was. Its iridescent colors reflecting magically in the golden morning light. I was overwhelmed with gratitude and love for the place, for the bird, for nature and for myself.

This spectacle lasted for 45 minutes, and although I was lost most of the time, I did make this short clip. It started feeding at the bottom of the tree and continued all the way up the top. When it finally flew away, I stood up, took a deep breath, dusted myself and as silently I had come, left, overflowing with ecstasy and gratitude. A Morning well spent.

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