One morning last week, when I came out of my room, I was treated to a very interesting sight. A Coucal. The booming calls of the Coucals are often heard and the birds themselves are seen regularly in our garden. The bird came out of the bush and landed on a stone slab nearby. On close observation, I noticed something in its beak. It was a large juicy green caterpillar (probably of the Oleander Hawk Moth) in its mandibles! The caterpillar (or larva) was gulped down in no time. The whole drama happened so quickly that there no time to capture this event.
However, it reminded me of a similar event that had transpired many years ago – to be more precise February 2006! One afternoon I noticed some movement near the top of the same Tabernaemontana bush. I waited for a while and noticed movement again. This happened a few times. I could not contain my curiosity and ran into the house to get my binoculars. Gazing through them, I noticed a fat green caterpillar with an outward pointing stiff tail. Also, nearby was a Garden Lizard Calotes versicolor.
The lizard lunged at the caterpillar and barely managed to get a hold. But it had to let go since the caterpillar had a stronger grip of the twig! The lizard repeated this effort several times. Unable to get much purchase with its tiny teeth, with each effort it only managed to injure the caterpillar.
Until eventually the green gooey innards of the caterpillar was threatening to fall out.
At this stage, the lizard decided to abort the effort and go away. This came as a surprise to me. The lizard had invested ample time and effort to maim the caterpillar. A little more and it would have been rewarded with a juicy morsel. I am not sure if it was the exposed innards of the caterpillar that forced the lizard to quit. Unfortunately, the caterpillar became neither meal nor moth!
This time around, since the drama went on for longer, I managed to get a couple of frames of another predator of the same caterpillar!