So, here I am, in the Jaisalmer district, standing in the middle of one of the largest, operational onshore wind-farms in the country (and possibly in the world). And what is it that I feel, you ask? The strong winds, for sure, obviously. But that’s not the reason I am here.
What I feel is the majestic openness of the land around me, interrupted rudely by these hideous and monstrous wind turbines all around us. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of these ugly machines that aim to satisfy our gluttonous thirst for power – the fuel that keeps that insatiable monster called human greed going.
What I feel is the childish excitement that I may, at last, lay my eyes on the Great Indian Bustard – a bird that narrowly missed being named our national bird (it lost out because of the worry that its name could mean something quite unacceptable, if misspelt).
And what I feel is the pleasure that just a couple of dozen meters ahead of me is a rather small bird that would be my 638th, if only I can get a half-decent shot of it.
Unfortunately, my camera, all 5.8 kgs and every single sq mm of it, feels only the raw and elemental nature of the wind. A tug that is incessant, one that makes it move away from where I desperately want it to point towards with a force that stubbornly resists all my attempts to fight against.
I try propping it on the chain-link fence that demarcates the protected areas of the Desert National Park on the other side (where my #638 is busy), just to get some additional support, but to no avail – there is no running away from the inexorable force of the wind. I then try supporting it on one of the concrete posts that hold up the chain-link fence and I still find no joy.
As if it read our frustration, the Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin decides to fly over the fence to our side and alights on the ground about 15m or so away. It is quite a fidgety one though and keeps moving away from us while foraging on the ground ahead.
We are in a crouching trot behind it now, keeping just outside of its “circle of confidence” – crouching to make it seem as if we are much smaller than we actually are as well as take advantage of some shrubs to keep us outside its direct line-of-sight – so that it doesn’t get spooked and fly away.
The wind is still unrelenting, though, and I have to still battle the gale-force every time I try to aim and focus. This ain’t gonna be easy, the only way would be to try and crawl, while giving chase, and take support of the firm and unyielding earth while clicking. Easier said than done given how fast the bird seems to be moving.
Finally a break, he pauses on a mound, a grassy relief on the arid desert, long enough for me to finally tick off my #638.