Essentials of Bird Watching


Bird Watching is the first step to observing birds in their natural habitat, recording the sightings and then taking to bird photography.

We are the super-fast generation! We want to start running before we start crawling. We want to land at the destination before the flight has taken off! We want to have good sightings without having to toil a lot. So, we will start bird photography even though we are not interested in bird watching.

Kingfisher taking a bath

But is that a problem? We have good field guides who help us identify birds. We have good photography mentors who teach on the field about bird behavioral patterns. We have our drivers who are more than willing to go back and forth to help us adjust our camera equipment.

To be honest, why should one not quickly graduate to the next level instead of re-inventing the wheel?

So, I caught hold of my camera and the lens by the collar (literally!) and walked into the wild. I came back with some amazing images of birds from Bharatpur, from Sattal, from Tal Chappar and Okhla Bird Sanctuary.

I was happy with the images, the outcome, they followed the rule of the thirds, they were shot in good light and there was nothing wrong with the images. The images looked pretty happy to me.

Equipped with confidence, I ventured out to Corbett National Park. This is where I met Georgina from England. I don't remember her last name and she isn’t on Facebook. She was in India for about a month to do bird watching and had the courage to land here with just her binoculars and not a camera.

I was zapped! Why would one waste a month merely watching birds? I understand, you want to record the sightings, understand their behavior and habitat. But, I would want some images. 

She said that she has been to over ten countries in the past five years to do bird watching and never went back with any images since she does not own a camera. Money didn’t seem to be an issue, so, I asked her whether she was particularly allergic to cameras!

For one, at her age (almost 70 years old), she said lugging around equipment was not on the top of her mind. Also, she said, with the need to capture images, we tend to forget the essentials –to absorb the surroundings, to feel the nature and breathe in some fresh air.

From her, I learnt the essentials of bird watching. I might not be convinced that I need to ditch the camera equipment completely, but, I do need to enjoy bird watching before I get down to bird photography. I shall pick that camera in a short while!

Here are some of the essentials of Bird Watching. Feel free to share your views on the same.  

  1. Curiosity. Guidebooks, mentors, equipment and binoculars all come second. The first and foremost requirement is that of curiosity. You have to feel he need to know more about birds. You have to be in a mood to explore. Nature will reveal itself to you, bit by bit, layer by layer.
  2. Patience. The amount of patience in your bag must be double the quantity of curiosity! You will need an alert mind to take note of your surroundings, listen to sounds and be patient for a bird to give you a good sighting. Some birds are noisy, whereas, a lot of them are quitter and blend into the surroundings.
  3. Blend In. Do not wear colours that can scare birds away. Do not move at speeds that will make the birds fly off. You will have to keep in mind that you are in their house to watch them and not the other way round.
  4. Take Notes. Always take notes. Try writing down a list of the birds you see on a particular date. If you keep a logbook, you'll be able to anticipate and predict the movements of birds during migrations.  
  5. Identifying the vantage point. Be it photography or watching, you need to be able to figure out your vantage point. The point from where you will be able to enjoy
  6. Time of Year. Understand that the same place gets resident birds during a particular time of the year and migratory birds at a different time.

 


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