Dewar’s Calendar — June

This entry was posted Friday, 7 June, 2013 at 9:11 am

Here we have a poetic description of June — the break of monsoon, and the arrival of the Pied Cuckoo from  Douglas Dewar’s A Bird Calendar for Northern India, published in 1916, here is his lyrical description for February.

In…June…practically the whole month is composed of hot, dry, dusty, oppressive days; for the monsoon rarely reaches Northern India before the last week of the month.

The first rain causes the temperature to fall immediately. It is no uncommon thing for the mercury in the thermometer to sink 20 degrees [Farenheit] in a few minutes.

No sound is more pleasing to the human ear than the drumming of the first monsoon rain. During the monsoon the silence of the night is broken only by the sound of falling raindrops, or the croaking of the frogs, the stridulation of crickets innumerable, and the owlet’s feeble call. Before the coming of the monsoon the diurnal chorus of the day birds begins to flag because the nesting season for many species is drawing to a close.

With the first fall of rain the tunes of the paradise flycatchers and the king-crows# change. The former now cry “Witty-ready wit,” softly and gently, while the calls of the latter suddenly become sweet and mellow.

The monsoon transfigures the earth. The brown, dry, hard countryside, with its dust-covered trees, becomes for the time being a shallow lake in which are studded emerald islets innumerable. Stimulated by the rain many trees put forth fresh crops of leaves.

There is much to interest the ornithologist in June.

In June a very striking bird makes its appearance in Northern India. This is the pied crested cuckoo (Coccystes jacobinus)*. Its under parts are white, as is a bar in the wing. The remainder of the plumage is glossy black. The head is adorned by an elegant crest. The pied cuckoo has a peculiar metallic call, which is as easy to recognise as it is difficult to describe. The bird victimises, not crows, but babblers; nevertheless the corvi seem to dislike it as intensely as they dislike koels.

# Current name: Black Drongo
* Current name: Pied Cuckoo or Jacobin Cuckoo (Clamator jacobinus)

Taken, with grateful thanks, from Project Gutenberg.

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