In conversation with Sameer Gautam, a birdwatcher from Delhi.
An avid birdwatcher, associated with this field since last 3 years, Mr. Gautam also works as a conservator in Yamuna Biodiversity Park.
How should one start with bird watching? Are there any particular set of qualities that one needs to possess?
One can start bird watching near their home or a park, to start with. Then a person could proceed to finding areas which are famous with the birds, for example a biodiversity park, or a park set up especially for bird watching. I would suggest to head to Bharatpur for nearest bird watching getaway. .There is no need of specific qualities that one need to possess, apart from the zeal to watch and observe birds.
Where do you watch birds?
The sky is no better for the watching the avian delights. Nevertheless, down to specifics, any place which has a habitat suitable for birds to nest and breed, particularly green areas, that may include parks, forests etc. The best time would be early in the morning, when they leave their nests for finding food.
What inspired you to start birding?
Birds have always caught my fascination since early age, hence I decided to take up my pastime a bit more seriously. The description varies with every birdwatcher you talk with, but for me it’s their aesthetic sense and the fact that they spread colors in the blue sky, its makes them even more beautiful, there is no denying that.
Are there any equipment that one needs to have in order to start bird watching?
A pair of binoculars and a camera.
Any words of wisdom that you would like to give to new birders?
See, one needs to understand, as per common notion and perception, going crazy about something and working day and night towards achieving it, makes you a genius or a millionaire. But if it is what you’re after then you are in for a big disappoint. I am not trying to discourage you, but that’s the fact one doesn’t become famous, even after doing their entire lifetime. But yes, you do gain on your mental health, which is very convincing for many people, to go for it. Apart from that, join a bird watching society for a little guidance on finding birds and knowing them. And yes, whatever you do, respect their privacy.
Are there any places which hold great space in your heart?
Yes Yamuna Biodiversity Park. There are lots of beautiful birds which come from china, Siberia and central Europe, to nest and breed here, making it a delight to a birdwatcher’s eyes.
What other places are on your hit list?
Nothing specific, as of now.
Any memorable experiences?
For me bird watching in itself, is a very fulfilling experience. Although, there are some instances of bird sightings that hold very special place. For example, Red crested Pochard,a very rare bird, came to Delhi after a very long time-gap of 15 years.
Favorite bird and why?
Red Pochard as I said earlier. But apart from that, Siberian Crane. Although, one can sight it almost everywhere, yet I find it very spectacular.
What has kept you still interested? Like, it’s not that, I am suggesting that it’s not an interesting hobby to pursue, but yet.
(Laughs). My love for birds, for starters. And then, obviously I have my work, which revolves around birds, so that’s another aspect that holds for me.
What species do you spend most of your time observing?
Best / worst pair of binoculars?
Any one which is reasonable and yes, suits your comfort level with them.
How far have you traveled to see a particular bird?
We went in search of Red Pochard, in and around Delhi, that’s the farthest I have traveled till now.
Did you discover any bird?
Apart from Red Pochard, nothing significant yet.
So, your association with bird watching has been quite long. In the line of your sight, what do you think about the preservation of birds in next 50 years? With rapid destruction and poaching, will we be losing another set of birds we see today?
I understand that it is inevitable, the extinction. But the rate at which the illegal activities are taking place, it is sure doubling the rate of extinction. The birds are not as vulnerable as we believe them to be. That are far more resilient and adaptable to the surroundings, the only thing is we support them in survival and not make it hard for them to survive even in suitable conditions.
Although, on the positive side I believe this increase in zeal to know about the birds and more and more people, especially youngsters like you and me, getting involved in bird watching, is sure to bring about a great change in the way we see and perceive the avian species, raising further awareness about them, helping in their protection and preservation.