07 Sep The raider and the myna
While ambling along the backwaters, winding through the magical mangroves of Sundarbans, we moved past a dry stump of a tree. Something caught our eyes. There was something, like a tail, dangling down from the top of it. There also seemed to be a lot of commotion among a flock of jungle mynas close by. They were vigorously calling and flying around the same tree stump. We were sure that something was up and turned our boat towards it.
As we neared, we noticed that the tail was that of a water monitor lizard, a rather huge guy. He had his head inside a hole in the tree. Seemed like he was pushing himself, deeper inside.
With the mynas acting so aggressively and the monitor lizard inside a hole, we could kind of grasp as to what was transpiring. The hole in the tree was the nest of the jungle mynas and the monitor lizard was raiding it, looking for eggs to feed upon.
Water monitors are large sized lizards native to and wide spread across the South and Southeast Asia. Found close to water bodies, they are excellent swimmers. They are agile climbers too. Many a time, found basking high up on the tree branches. They have a wide range of prey. Very opportunistic feeders as well, making the most of anything they come by. Bird eggs and sometimes eggs of crocodiles are also on the menu and are like delicacies. This huge guy was in the mood for some such for sure.
Also, if you notice closely, the lizard is shedding its skin. Unlike snakes, which shed their entire skin in one stretch, many lizards shed pieces of their skin. This will be usually over a period of 2-3 weeks. Some of the shed pieces of old skin might still be sticking on to the body and that gets detached slowly. This guy had just shed or in the middle of shedding.
The mynas were very much perturbed and kept coming at the big fella with all they had. Flying about, pecking at the monitor, they tried to nag the lizard as much as possible.
The monitor was a bit irritated for sure, but the eggs were probably too inviting to give up on.
The helpless mynas, sat there watching, calling about loudly. However, seemed like nothing much was happening in the myna’s favour.
The monitor took its time, finished up the job he had come for and headed down the tree, probably looking for a nice resting place.
Was an amazing natural history moment we were a witness to. Nature, it seems is quite cruel at times. However, that is the way of the natural world.