By Ashok Appu*
An enthusiastic birdwatcher and photographer, I used to head out to birding spots at any given opportunity. Weekends were longed for so that I could spend time with nature admiring and capturing the feathered beauties. However, with the ongoing pandemic, the related restrictions, and perennial paranoia, heading out of home was reserved for absolute necessities, which too was offset by online retail shops that were doing a fantastic job with home deliveries. Also, with the work-from-home policy instated by my company, I could avoid stepping out completely. Staying at home was, undoubtedly, the right thing to do too. So, what effect did it have on my birding then? Well, as you’d guess, initially, I was quite scared to venture out, but slowly the frustration of not being able to spend time with my feathered friends crept in. While heading out to birding locations in and around Delhi was probably not as risky, and several of my birding friends were moving out often, my patience began to wear out. It was a difficult choice to make, but then I decided to act responsibly and stay at home.
So, what next? I have a decent terrace space at home that came to my rescue. Despite the fact that I stay in a densely populated residential locality in Delhi, there are a few trees around my terrace, which are frequented by common birds. I had noticed them earlier, but hadn’t paid too much attention up till now. I then started spending a couple of morning hours on my terrace and was surprised to see the bird activity. I also started putting together a list of bird species spotted. Agreed that many of them were common species, but there were several, I hadn’t spotted earlier from home. It could possibly be because of the big park in vicinity or the man-made lake a couple of kilometers further up, I thought and chuckled. Good for me! My terrace was always a few steps away, so I started carrying my camera to it frequently. When not working or busy with household chores, I was now doing my favorite thing, observing and photographing birds! I have noted (with supporting photos) up to 35 bird species and still counting. On a few occasions, I was able to capture beautiful moments through my camera, so here I am then, sharing a few of them. Hope these picture share positivity in the otherwise grim times, and hopefully encourage you to start spending more time in your balcony and terrace wherever possible to observe birds and connect with nature.
1. Indian White Eye
These skittish and small-sized birds generally prefer to move around in flocks. The white eye ring is clearly a prominent feature, which gets them their name. At times, these beauties would come in flocks to drink and bathe in the small water pool I set up on the terrace.
2. Brown-headed Barbet
An extremely shy bird that can most often be heard before being spotted! On certain rare occasions, it too came for water and allowed me take this close-range shot.
3. Coppersmith Barbet
This small bird gets its name from its characteristic call, which sounds similar to the ‘tuktuk’ produced by coppersmiths’ tools being used. The picture you see here is that of a juvenile as it is missing the crimson head and throat that is prominent in adults.
4. White-breasted Kingfisher
As the name would suggest, one would always expect to see a kingfisher close to a water body, but this isn’t true for this particular species as it has diverse feeding habits, ranging from fish to lizards and insects. This shot was taken while in flight, which isn’t particularly easy as they are quick.
5. Egyptian Vulture
‘A surprise find’ really! In the past I’ve travelled long distances to get a glimpse of this bird. Like other vultures, this too is a scavenger. One fine morning, while I was observing some black kites in the sky, an equally-sized bird took off in another direction, which happened to be this Egyptian Vulture!
6. Green Bee Eater
A common bird that you can expect to see in almost any birding spot, this colourful bird remains a favorite of bird photographers. It was the first time I got an opportunity to shoot it from my terrace.
7. Rose-ringed Parakeet
One of the common parakeets that are seen quite easily in Delhi, and can be quite noisy and active in morning! This frame is special – with the predominantly green bird framed along with the yellow flowers.
8. Alexandrine Parakeet
These parakeets look similar to rose-ringed parakeets, but are much larger in size. You can also distinguish them by the red patches on their shoulders. I have mostly spotted them from a distance, but this pair, flying in sync, made for a good picture.
9. Black-headed Ibis
Another surprise spot, the black-headed ibis is often seen in open areas and water bodies. It can easily be distinguished by its black bill, which is slightly bent downwards. I later noticed that these birds can be seen flying across almost every day from my terrace.
10. Yellow-footed Green Pigeon
Another elusive bird that is common, but not as easy to spot as the blue rock pigeons because it often perches without movement and gets camouflaged brilliantly within trees. This shot was taken when I noticed several pigeons of a flock landing on a tree one after the other.
Hope you enjoyed seeing the pictures and now feel encouraged to spend some time on your terrace! Stay safe, friends!
*Ashok is a Technical Communications professional and a wholehearted wildlife enthusiast. He started his tryst with nature at an early age when he never used to miss any opportunity to connect with the wild and its beautiful beings. The love for wildlife eventually manifested into him developing a keen interest in capturing it (through his camera), particularly birds as he finds them to be both interesting and challenging subjects. This not only helps him find a temporary escape from the daily hustle and bustle of corporate life but also gives him an opportunity to be with nature. Ashok’s bird photographs have been featured in Nat Geo blogs and weather.com.