Ansuya Village 2100m
It was 10:30 am on a pretty summer day. We had mist nets up. We use mist-nets to catch birds to sample for their DNA and release them in a few minutes. Mist nets are expensive but more importantly irreplaceable ‘in the middle of nowhere’ Uttarakhand. So lose a mist net and you squander productivity for the rest of the field season. The morning session that started at 5 was winding down. Everyone was having food thoughts. It’s boring to check nets at this time. Bird activity has died down and we hardly catch anything. The village cattle were grazing, their bells jangled. We had been keeping an eye on them to make sure they don’t walk into a net. A red fox emerged out of the forest. It sat at the edge and stared curiously. So did we. That was SO COOL. Soon, the fox went away and the conversation drifted. The cattle were now grazing near by. “Where’s Don?” asked Harish. We all took a head count of the cattle and oh my God! Where the hell WAS Don?! We jumped up and ran towards the nets. We found Don. He looked so studly. His black coat glistened in the sun as he grazed. “What’s that on his head?” I wondered aloud. Just as the horror of the fact that he was wearing a veil of mist net struck me, Sartaj called out for me. He stood by the net that was missing the part Don was sporting. Don had bullishly walked through a mist net, exactly through the middle. The net was completely destroyed, unmendable. 200 dollars and future productivity down the drain. Don had done his dirty deed as we were fox watching. I cursed pretty loudly! I cursed the fox for distracting us! Hoped really hard that a bear or a leopard kills Don. We took the net down. Before setting the nets up that afternoon I herded the cattle faaaar away. I have become quite the cowherd since.