Three months back, simply by luck and chance I happened to attend a bird festival at Buxa Tiger reserve. Mr. Salim Ali, the birdman of India, had written in his book that all you need to be a birder is a binocular, a notebook and pen to scribble and a lot of patience. I checked for my gears. I definitely had a pen and paper, didn’t own a binoculars and certainly have quite a sum of patience. My father in law gifted me with a binoculars. In the bird festival I learnt a number of tips ranging from how to inform about the location of birds, how to walk in a jungle without disturbing birds etc. Those were some fun 4 days with a lot of learning.
However, I had this thought somewhere in me that even though I enjoyed birding, I may not be able to nurture this hobby let alone turn it into a passion. As who in Delhi has the time and opportunity to look for birds in their natural habitat. But then came COVID-19, and the whole problem of lack of time, working on applications, traveling etc, got shunned away in one sweep. I have now been at my home in Uttarakhand from over a month. And what better time could I get to nurture what I learnt in Buxa. I now classify myself as a novice yet enthusiastic birder. Till yesterday I had identified 49 different species of birds from my residence’s roof. And today morning, as I opened my eyes after doing meditation I saw an Indian Golden Oriole sitting on the tall teak tree right across the roof. It marked my half century. I then meditated on the thought that what all did I learn from birding. And here are a few points that I could mark:
1. Observant: I have lived in this place since a long time but never had I ever noticed any bird in my vicinity. Now I see barbets, flycatchers, parakeets, raptors, doves, starlings etc all siting on this sagwan tree. I am now much more observant of the area I am in and hence much more grateful for the abundance of nature I have been blessed with.
2. More complete: When we sit in silence we tend to get bored. Sister Shivani says this is because we do not enjoy our own company. We need people around us, physically or virtually. That makes us dependant particularly in events like this of lockdown. Most of us are bored sitting/working from/at home. Birding has on the other hand allowed me to enjoy and value my own company. I am now more complete in myself than I was.
3. Disciplined: Birds do not come to perch on the branches throughout the day. They come out in early morning and later in the evening. So despite of being at home, everyday I wake up at 5:30 am and am ready by 6:30 am to start the day.
4. An enchanting add-on in my list of hobbies: I am very clear about this that I have never been so much involved in any of my hobby earlier. All because birding is amazing.
5. Talk of the neighborhood: Well apart from all the self-improvement benefits of birding, it has also made me the talk of the neighborhood as nobody is sure of what a weird spy did she become after doing PhD that all she keeps looking at with her binoculars is into bushes and trees!!!
So if anyone gets inspired by my words, go and buy yourself a binoculars, a camera and the book called “Birds of the Indian Subcontinent” by Grimmett et al. It is an investment for sure.