The sunrise at the Ameenpur lake is a spectacle to behold, thanks to the winged visitors this season. Herea��s how to do it, along with helpful tips from the bird watching experts themselves
The nippy mornings of this festive season can become even more enjoyableA� when you takeA�bird watching as your weekend activity near water bodies or forests. Also known as birding during winter times, it becomes a double treat as a lot of migratoryA�birdsA�flock to Indian sub-continent and Hyderabad is no different.
Since there are many water bodies in Hyderabad manyA�birdsA�flock to Himayat Sagar, Osman Sagar, Ameenpur Lake, Gandipet Lake, Nehru Zoological Park and ponds in universities like Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANNU) and Hyderabad Central University (HCU). Starting from Flamingos, Rosy Pastors and Pinktails myriads ofA�birdsA�fly to these water-bodies, forests and dense parks. TheseA�birdsA�come from the coldest regions like Canada, Russia, Iceland and other countries.
Salim Ali, better known as theA�a��BirdA�man of Indiaa��, did a survey ofA�birdsA�in 1935 by a grant given by the Nizam. Now, there are around 600 birdwatchers in the city. The main birdwatching organisation is The Birdwatchers Society of Andhra Pradesh (BSAP) was formed in 1980.There are 375 members in BSAP alone. Birding Pals is another new birding club that has come up recently in the city. Some members of Great Hyderabad Adventure Club (GHAC) also go for birding as part of their other activities.
For the last 10 years Flamingos have been regularly coming to Hyderabad. Because of this Gandipet has become the hot-spot for the birdwatchers. Some algae that theseA�birds survive on is now found in the lakes. a�?And scientists are doing research on this,a�? says birdwatcher Azam Khan.
The flamingo is clearly the star of the year. Informs Shafaat Ullah, the honorary secretary of BSAP, a�?TheseA�birdsA�as usual were sighted at the water-bodies of the city. We went to Himayat Sagar and saw Flamingos. Less rains and shallow water-bodies bring theseA�birdsA�to the city during winter time.a�?
Equipment and online resources
The basic items that you require are binoculars, a guide, pen and paper to note down the colours and features of theA�birdsA�you sighted. And those photogs can always carry their Nikons or other high range cameras with high focal length. So, do they need any other equipment other than this? a�?No. These are enough. Not very high-end equipment are required. Too much of camera clutter disturbs theA�birds,a�? informs Abhishek Saroti who has been doing bird watching for the past six years. On the other hand there are a lot of apps like BirdGenie, AudubonA�Birds, iBird Pro, National GeographicA�Birds, PetersonA�Birds, Sibley eGuide toA�BirdsA�and Merlin are some of the latest smartphone apps to identifyA�birdA�calls and help in digital field guides as well.
So what else helps birdwatchers? Books, of course.A�Birdwatcher and blogger Humayun Taher, who has been into bird watching for the past 30 years suggests, a�?I recommend The Book of IndianA�BirdA� and Field Guide to theA�BirdsA�of the Indian sub-continent. These books provide an insight into their behavioral study.a�? Other books that can be bought for birdwatching are: Kingbird Highway written by Sandy Komito which is a compilation of 745A�birdA�species found in the world; another popular book is a�?BirdsA�of Heaven: Travels With Cranesa�� written by popular nature writer, Peter Matthiessen. Those focusing just on migratoryA�birdsA�can buy a�?Living on the Winda�� written by Scott Weidensaul, which was shortlisted for Pulitzer Prize.
How can any sport or hobby these days be complete without online resources? There are plenty of portals that provide you each and every detail necessary forA�birdA�watching. For example there is allaboutbirds.org, birdwatching.com, birdlifecyprus.com etc. Says Azam Khan anotherA�birdA�watcher and member of BSAP, a�?With regular visits and a keen interest one can start differentiating slowly between two species. ebird.orgA�that can show you the exact pictures ofA�birdsA�that you want to see. For example, if you type show meA�birdA�the size of a sparrow orA�birdA�with water-blue feathers. The website gives you exactly those pictures only.a�?
The migratoryA�birdsA�that travel to warm regions in groups have features as unique as red beaks, pink feathers, blue collars or even orange coloured rings round their necks. Humayun Taher, aA�bird-watcher and also a member of BSAP informs, a�?Greater Flamingos are beautiful migratoryA�birds. They feed in shallow waters like Gandipet Lake. They have pinkish beaks which is thick like a boomerang. They have long pink legs and usually fly in large groups.a�? OtherA�birdsA�that he lists out is: Pregrine Falcon has hawk like features. To this list Abhishek adds, a�?BirdsA�like Northern Shoveler have a very long beak. Another uniqueA�birdA�is Bar-headed Goose with two-stripes on its head. OtherA�birdsA�to watch out for are: Brahminy Starling, Comb Duck, Small Pratincole and Indian Grey Hornbill.
Venugopal, a birdwatcher and an engineer by profession, says, a�?SLRs are perfect for clicking the pictures of theA�birds. Entry level and mid level cameras are best. One can go for Nikon or Canon. 300 mm zoom is fine.a�?
His favourite birds that are worth a click are: Indian Roller Skater, Spotted Owlet, Asian Koel (female), Common Hoopoe and Flamingoes.
a�� Saima Afreen
Birding and A�other activities
BirdA�mapping is done by 30 teams. The participants move within 50 kms radius of forests, lakes and parks where they are taken forA�bird-mapping. They are given a log book. Whenever they see aA�bird,A�they tick mark it in the book. Each team gets aA�birdA�name. The winner is decided based on who saw maximum number of species ofA�birds.