In Hubli, Karnataka, in May 2018, the mercury was rising and agricultural fields were dry.
This is the season in which fan-throated lizards display their dewlap—which looks like a colourful fan—to attract females of the species. I wanted to document Large Fan-throated Lizards displaying, and was worried that it was the last week of May and it had already rained a few times; once it starts raining, these lizards reduce the frequency of display. Nonetheless, I set out to try my luck and frame a few images in the diffused light.
During this time of the year, farmers also begin ploughing their fields, which exposes earthworms and other insects, attracting large numbers of Cattle Egrets. During the month of May, Cattle Egrets are in their breeding plumage and seen foraging in fields.
Driving around, I spotted this Large Fan-throated Lizard (Sarada darwini) that had occupied the highest point of a bund, flaunting its vibrant colours hoping to attract possible mates; it was standing and relentlessly displaying. The lizard was however also spotted by a Cattle Egret, which then began advancing towards it. I had just a few seconds to park my car and position myself at a distance, in a manner that would not disturb the events of nature about to unfold. The egret flew towards the lizard and attacked. It was painful to see the lizard trying to escape, but the egret had it firmly gripped in its beak – there was no escaping death!
In this image, the Large Fan-throated Lizard is seen struggling for life. The egret soon swallowed it and the lizard breathed its last. Though all this happened in a matter of seconds, I could frame the image to narrate this natural-history moment between two species in their breeding seasons.