Giving wings to their passion for birds, one walk at a time - petsitterbank

Giving wings to their passion for birds, one walk at a time

Enthusiasts walking at the Okhla bird sanctuary. | Photo Credit: SUSHIL KUMAR VERMA

On Sunday morning, a motley crew of around a dozen people — including a teacher, an engineer and a career coach, decided to let go of their busy schedules — gets hold of binoculars and gathers at the Okhla Bird Sanctuary to pursue their passion for birdwatching .

Pointing at a black ibis, Delhi-based birder Nikhil Devasar tells the group that the bird used to be considered a witch, while the Brahminy ducks symbolized love as they were mostly found in pairs.

Mayank Malhotra, 37, says birdwatching was something that he always wanted to pursue but never got the time for due to a hectic schedule. “This is my first bird walk. I have been mesmerized by the varied types of birds we’ve spotted. I wanted to pick a hobby which would be a helpful distraction from work. Now, I want to study more about birds and their origins,” adds Mr. Malhotra, who works as an engineer with a Gurugram-based tech company.

Sheila Chhabra, 61, who runs her own study centre, has been a birdwatcher for over two decades. Attending walks and gathering information about migratory birds helps in the workshops she conducts for students. “For me, it all started with morning walks. I would be amazed by the birds I spotted in my neighborhood parks. Somewhere during those walks, I realized that I want to be associated with birdwatching.”

Ms. Chhabra notes that in the late 90’s, there were just a handful of bird enthusiasts and few such walks used to be organized. “Birdwatching became a widespread hobby with the arrival of DSLRs. After DSLRs became common, people began photographing birds on a larger scale and posting images on their WhatsApp groups, sparking discussions on the origins and characteristics of the birds,” she adds.

The months between October and March are considered the best for birdwatching. This is the period when birds from different parts of the earth, from as far as Siberia, flock into the four-square-kilometre sanctuary at Okhla. “The walk has given me a motivation to research more about birds now … looking at the birds is such a treat to the eyes,” says 57-year-old career coach Surbhi.

Mr. Devasar, who runs a travel company, said birdwatching stems from the shared need to go out and explore one’s environment.

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