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Birds...Through the Lens of a Seven-year-old
By Dr Anand & Geeta Pereira

March 26, 2012

Bird watching, or simply birding as it is commonly known, is an activity that is considered a sport by many. Birding has been our passion and hobby for the past three decades. For the past many years, the focus was on tracking the migratory behavior of birds in Karnataka, but for a change, we had the opportunity to visit many migratory bird havens in and around Pune in January 2012, both in restricted sites as well as bird sanctuaries.

This was largely made possible by Ashley and Dr Sneha Rasquinha who are excellent photographers and avid bird watchers. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity to see migratory birds in thousands in restricted places like Army Lakes, Tata Motors and the more hospitable open waters in and around Bigwan. This memorable trip helped us discover the many varied landscapes and hidden treasures with respect to avian fauna. We were able to identify dozens of bird species by sight and sound and learn about their behavior and current conservation status. Our two week trip to the migratory stopover of birds was an education and adventure by itself. We had the opportunity of observing birds in the wild for a better understanding of habitats and behaviors.

This article has two dimensions of approach. First, to request Parents, Grandparents & Elders to connect children and youngsters to nature, either by sharing their knowledge on biodiversity conservation through folklore or by accompanying the kids and youngsters to nature trails, so that children learn to interact with the environment, learning and growing all the while. Bed time stories & tales from the Panchatantra are not only entertaining but serve to teach a lesson in sharing, caring, reaching out and empathizing with others in distress. Many of these stories revolve around birds and animals and the important role they play in the well being of mankind.

These touching stories and field visits also provide children with an opportunity to form a deep bond of mutual trust and friendship both with the people accompanying them as well as with nature. We have often observed that the outdoors brings out a spontaneous enthusiasm in the child, which in turn can be skillfully directed towards learning. As children grow, they will appreciate time spent outdoors. We need to help children fall in love with nature from an early age, so that they become guardians of nature for life. In our guarded opinion, even though there are many different things that are important to the future of our world, teaching children to love nature and care for wildlife should be high on the list of priorities. For in today’s tech world it is very easy for children and youngsters to get alienated from the natural world around them. In sharing our deeper thoughts and feelings, do we communicate and inspire in others, a love and respect for Mother Earth.

Bird watching is an inexpensive hobby but is very rewarding in terms of acquiring knowledge. All that one need is a pair of binoculars, digital camera and a pocket field guide. We would like to stress that amateur birders are the ones who have made noteworthy contributions to ornithology with respect to Indian birds.

We recommend the following books for beginners.

The Book of Indian Birds.  By Dr Salim Ali.

Collins Hand guide to the Birds of the Indian Sub-Continent, Including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal By Martin W. Woodcock.

 Pocket Guide to the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent By R.Grimmett, C. Inskipp & T. Inskipp


A beginner can easily spot birds in wooded areas or in any undisturbed lake in the neighborhood which can easily accommodate both resident and four to five different species of migratory birds. However, to get a glimpse of some of the rare species of birds, one needs to visit bird sanctuaries like the Bharatpur bird sanctuary which is home to over 300 species of birds. In South India we have the Kumarakom Bird sanctuary (Kerala), Ranganthittu Bird sanctuary (Karnataka), and the Kunthakulam Bird Sanctuary (Tamil Nadu).

Second, for young inquisitive minds to take a leaf out of Aarav’s book and contribute towards nature conservation. This brief article of ours is to showcase the talent of a young and energetic boy named Aarav, (s/o Ashley Rasquinha), who is only seven years old and is capable of identifying most of the bird species in India. Aarav accompanies Ashley on most of his wildlife trips and has a very enquiring mind. He has a very steady hand and all the pictures in this article have been photographed by this little wonder boy Aarav. The real credit in initiating Aarav into wild life conservation, particularly Birds, goes to his grandfather, Mr. Antony Rasquinha who not only devotes time in educating his grand children on the importance of conservation but makes it a point to gift them with essential gadgets like binoculars, guide books, camera & Videos. Today, Aarav is capable of identifying birds just by giving a close ear to their calls and also by their flight pattern. Whenever in doubt, he refers to the field guide to birds.

Exotic migratory birds from the Pacific, Siberian and South East Asian Countries migrate to India during early December in large flocks in search of feeding grounds or to escape the severe winter of their native habitat. At this time of the year, the extremes of weather like freezing temperature and high velocity winds force these birds out of their habitation to move towards favorable geographical regions. Due to severe cold and freezing of lakes, the food supply is restricted. To protect themselves, these birds migrate thousands of miles to warmer regions. They stay for three to four months and then return to their original homeland. Among the popular varieties that are sighted include Brahminy ducks, Stilts, Painted storks, Chats, Ruddy Shelducks, Great Crested Grebes, Gadwalls, Coots, Tufted Pochards ,Bar-Headed Geese, Greater Flamingo, Ruff, Black winged Stilt, Common Teal, Common Greenshank, Northern Pintail, Yellow Wagtail, White Wagtail, Northern Shoveler, Rosy Pelican, Gadwall, Wood Sandpiper, Spotted Sandpiper, Eurasian Wigeon, Black tailed Godwit, Spotted Redshank, Starling, Bluethroat and Long billed Pipit.

The Indian sub continent with its diverse habitat provides migratory birds with the much needed stop over stops or refueling stops, which are of critical importance for successful bird migrations. These strategically located wetlands, aquatic and semi aquatic habitats, wooded and heavily forested ecosystems provide a food chain that is essential for the survival of these birds.

Most importantly, India’s bird migratory belt is located in the sensitive biological hotspot of the Western Ghats. This hot spot is arguably the top mega biodiversity hotspot & provides the natural breeding grounds both for resident as well as migratory birds and other wildlife. These Ghats are home to a large number of rare threatened and endangered bird species found nowhere else on earth. The fact of the matter is that there are only twenty-five known biological hotspots on planet Earth occupying 1.4 % of earth’s land surface, but are home to 35 % of the world’s vertebrate species and 44 % of the worlds plant species. Today a major portion of the Western Ghats is under threat from timber logging, mining and habitat destruction. Wild spaces are being squeezed out, leaving behind fragments of a once pristine forest. The time has come to have a relook at our conservation strategies, especially in hot spot areas rich in biological diversity. Each of us can make a difference in restoring the health of our natural habitats and ecosystems.


Dr Anand & Geeta Pereira - Archives

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Comments on this article
Georgey Philip, Kerala/ Margao,GoaSaturday, June 23, 2012
Lovely, we browsed through & my 15yr old daughter had this spontaneous opinion So beautiful they look like toys. Birds we havent seen before , except the Java sparrow which we have around our flat in Gogol, Margao. Thanks Aarav for giving us a peep into this beautiful word of exotic birds.Keep it up & add more to this collection so we can cleanse our minds by lookin at the lovely colours of nature. nice clarity make the eyes go wide open. Thanks Lad & add more. God Bless.
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Dr.Anand and Geeta N Pereira, Sakleshpur/MangaloreThursday, April 26, 2012
Dear Rev. Sr.
Beautiful bird pictures.
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Sunil Crasto, Jeppu/mangaloreTuesday, April 03, 2012
Ashley Rasquinha, I would like to get in touch with you. I would love to see these birds in around their natural Habitat them. I do a lot of these bird Photography in Qatar during the migratory time please let me know how i could get in touch with you.I have all necessary equipment required for these trips, only hassle is the Indian Customs for 600mm lens to be bought into the country without trouble Please send me your email for further communication.
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Sulabha, PuneSunday, April 01, 2012
Congrats you both Papa & Mama, as you encourage your child. Excellent photos he has taken, so,lots of love to the child. Keep it up!
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Yogesh, BombayFriday, March 30, 2012
Keep it up ! Aarav ! Nice photography at very young age.Me too a bird watcher and photographer. On a another note...it seems Dr.Anand you were the one who posted "Kaadu paapa"(slender loris) photos on daijiworld...stumbled upon them while google'ing for it. Could not find better images for them! Excellent!
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last saw a kingfisher bird in 1979-80, while going on the local fishing trips in our village.
In this mordern age and far tract nd ultra sophisticated Jet age, we seem to have lost our childhood long time ago, which has been surprisingly revived for some moments by these excellent , clear ...crisp and natural photos taken by such a brilliant person , Aarav,
Dev besauvm gallum tucher. ( God Bless you)
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Edward Fernandes, Goa / PuneFriday, March 30, 2012
Great Photographs It truly amazing all the photographs are truly professional great clarity.
Aarav has done a god job the perspectives and timing is just perfect. For A seven year old it is really great achievement. I wish Aarav all the best and would like to see more his talent. Aarav all the very best to you.
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Ashley Rasquinha, PuneThursday, March 29, 2012
Dear Dominic,
Thanks for your kind words. Aarav presently uses a Canon Power Shot SX40-HS. It is particular good for nature since it has a 35X optical zoom. A good book for animals is "A Field Guide to Indian Mammals" by Vivek Menon. Thanks & best wishes !!
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Dominic, MangaloreThursday, March 29, 2012
I must say that the photographs by Aarav are excellent. Congrats to the parents for encouraging their child to take interest in nature. I would like to know the model of the camera used by young Aarav so that I can kindle some interest in my kids in nature photogaraphy. I do have a Canon Powershot A720 which I use for nature photography but it has been giving problems of late. Do you know of any pictorial informative books on animals since you have already mentioned about birds? keep up the wonderful writing!
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Prashant, PuneThursday, March 29, 2012
Congrats Aarav and thanks Anand for recognizing his great talent! Aarav already has two little followers from our house! This article will inspire other kids to take notice of birds around them. Thanks.
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MR.J B PATEL, MUMBAIThursday, March 29, 2012
Very good article,very good photos taken by little AARAV. He is an excellent photographer and naturalist. i wish him all the best
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NASIR, KARKALATuesday, March 27, 2012
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Hasina, KuwaitTuesday, March 27, 2012
This kind of photography, at this age, its beyond words. Amazing, the details and the clarity is Unbelievable, God bless the boy and I wish him a great future.
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Porlu Karkala, MoodbidriTuesday, March 27, 2012
keep it up..Master Aarav.
for your great work.
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Kumar Fernandes, Mudarangadi/DubaiTuesday, March 27, 2012
WOW. Amazing pictures. Can't believe the young one has captured the lovely creatures. Keep it up. God Bless you
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Fr. Prakash Anil Castelino, Fajir/ Karkala-AtturTuesday, March 27, 2012
Congratulations on publishing such an informative aricle. I hope that such articles will create intrest in a few. Dr Anand and Geetha Good Luck.
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Anand, Karkala/DubaiTuesday, March 27, 2012
Excellent work by Master Aarav and the photographs have been taken from a single location it seems. Most of the birds sitting in a single electric cable and nice scenery. Don't just concentrate on photography and take this as a co curricular activity.
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J M Bhandary, Mangalore/ USATuesday, March 27, 2012
Congratulations to Aarav, his parents and Dr. Ananda & Geetha Pereira. Great bird photography and a nice article to go along with that. Nice to see this budding talent hope to see more wild life photography from Aarav.
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Tony Crasta, Mangalore/SydneyTuesday, March 27, 2012
Very good article which is of great interest and use to the bird lovers and bird watchers. It contains as well, a lot of valuable information and knowledge on wildlife conservation, natural habitats and ecosystems, which need to be encouraged and revered in the context of ever changing present global climatic and environmental conditions. The photography of various species of birds by the young fellow Aarav, is excellent, which is clear as crystal. Well done son!
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Bulsam, MangaloreMonday, March 26, 2012
It was an excellent work by such a young boy. All the photos were taken in proper angles with required depth & speed for clarity. Congratulations to the talented young wild bird photographer.
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Gratian Govias, ChennaiMonday, March 26, 2012
The clarity of the pictures and the camera in his hands......wow wonderful pictures .... budding genius .....
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Dr Sneha Rasquinha, puneMonday, March 26, 2012
Thank you Uncle Anand and Aunty Geeta for a wonderful writeup and letting Aarav showcase his talent. I hope this article inspires many children to take up this hobby.
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Wilson D'souza, Udupi, MuscatMonday, March 26, 2012
Very nice article. Excellent pictures of birds. I had a hobby of collection pictures of birds during my childhood but could not continue it due to personal reasons. we get back very soon with my nephew. by this article i came to know more about the places we need to visit. thnx a lot daiji.
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vijay, mangaloreMonday, March 26, 2012
nice pics.....
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Harsha Malhotra, Mangalore/New DelhiMonday, March 26, 2012
all birds looks beautiful..all are having good combination colors.. we cannot able to distinguish each otherr..!! eyes never stop to look again and again..!! natural beauty..!!
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PAYAL PEREIRA, MANGALOREMonday, March 26, 2012
You have a keen eye and a great interest in animal world. Keep it up.
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NIHAL, MANGALOREMonday, March 26, 2012
your pictures are very good. Congratulations.
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Diya Dev, BhubaneswarMonday, March 26, 2012
aarav those pictures are awesome. You have now become a famous boy!!!!
Keep it up.
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John, UdupiMonday, March 26, 2012
A awesome photographer in making, God bless young Aarav, congratulations to parents
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Leah Govias, ChennaiMonday, March 26, 2012
Amazing pictures!!! Keep up the good work!
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Dr. N A Madhyastha, Monday, March 26, 2012
Excellent pictures and useful information. All the best for the future venture.
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Jenifer Pinto-Suares, Dubai/Udyavar /MumbaiMonday, March 26, 2012
I am simply spellbound with the photographs. Kudos to Aarav, an awesome photographr in the making and wishes to the parents.
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