5 LIFE LESSONS FROM MY SHORT STINT OF BIRDWATCHING

Birdwatching, a key highlight of 2021 for me. Learning and experience of it went on to help me personally as well as professionally.

By casual observation, I used to feel that there are some 15-20 bird species observable around my house (100-200 meters radius). I didn’t know names of those species or their characteristics. At the start of 2021, equipped with Canon EOS 1500D mounted with 55-200m lense and the Merlin App/Google Lense App and leveraging work from home, I started my Birding/Birdwatching journey.

This is what I observed and what I learned from it:

(1) Observation: Though being very casual, I captured (in camera) 47 species of birds by July 2021. I observed but could not capture Indian Paradise Flycatcher, Common Crow and couple more whose names are unknown to me.

Learning: Gut feel do not give you actual picture. In business and othe critical scenarios, we should not conclude based on gut feel but should analyse based on data.

(2) Observation: I used to capture photo, then use AI in above mentioned app to approximate species and identify by comparing features from trusted resources. Still, for some of the species I took a week for confirmation.

Learning: Technology have come a long way. We need to appreciate the super-capabilities we have today. I tried to imagine a time where Ornithologists had to rely on very big hard bound encyclopaedia and telescope only. (I can’t express the profoundnesses in words. Hope you will imagine and understand.)

(3) Observation: With time, I wanted to get better in names of the species, their characteristics, what are different features of bird called etc. Vocabulary (a bit of it) of the domain helped me interact with content and experts in systematic way. This helped me with the next bird I observed.

Learning: Every domain have its own vocabulary, rules and structure. Getting familiar with it helps us learn better and faster. Otherwise context and coordination takes more time of consumption of content than actually understanding it.(even in meetings 🙂 )

(4) Observation: As I started and continued Birdwatching, slowly my family members too started taking interest. They would ask me to to share my learnings. They would spot birds for me and bring to my attention. Even my 2 year old would spot birds while playing outside or while watching outside window and call me to click photos.

Learning: Our enthusiasm positively affects people around us and they try to participate. When peers actively participate, imparting learnings to each other becomes easy. Learning together is more effective than teaching and our unpretentious demeanour with inquisitive mind can help form community at work.

(5) Observation: Birdwatching became hobby and I started to take out some time for it deliberately. Even when there was a stressful phase and some lingering problems, I could find some time for birdwatching. I would forget the problem for some time and it had rejuvenating effect. That helped me to understand actual priority of problem by having high level view and solve problems efficiently with fresh creative thinking.

Learning: We get fixated on challenges and problems. But defocus and distraction are important to be able to focus with fresh perspective and tackle the problem from new angle. Problems (and even solutions) are a very very small part of our life. Life is beautiful and being aware of it makes us be good and do better at work too.

Many of the very difficult problems have simple solutions and they exist right under our nose. Defocusing the mind once in a while and giving time to ‘unimportant’ things helps.

(You can see all the birds I could capture at https://rupeshghagi.in/category/birds-in-the-neighborhood/)

Scaly-Breasted Munia

Post is part of the project- Birds in the neighborhood. | Bird 47

These clicks are taken from various locations from 10 feet to 100 feet from my home in Warora (Dist: Chandrapur). The following shots were taken from front balcony of my home.

The adult has a stubby dark bill typical of grain eating birds, brown upperparts and a dark brown head. The underparts are white with dark scale markings. The sexes are similar, although males have darker markings on the underside and a darker throat than females. (Wikipedia)

Scaly-Breasted Munia

More birds to follow.

Rose-Ringed Parakeet

Post is part of the project- Birds in the neighborhood. | Bird 46

These clicks are taken from various locations from 10 feet to 100 feet from my home in Warora (Dist: Chandrapur).

They are also called ring-necked parakeet. This bird is sexually dimorphic. Male have a red-black ring around the neck while female and young ones of both sexes miss that ring ( or have grey colored ring). Both have distinctive green color in wild. (Other colors in captured breeds possible.)

Rose-Ringed Parakeet (Male)

Rose-Ringed Parakeet (Female)

Some more pictures:

More birds to follow.

It was Coucal, not Goshawk, who killed nestlings of Spotted Dove.

There is a nest on tree visible from our rear balcony(we live on first floor). We (my family) are observing it for over a month now. Around second week of March 2021, spotted dove laid two eggs in this nest and was sitting their through day and night, through hot sunny afternoons and occasional untimely rain that occurred. It would just go away for few minutes couple of times a day. When she laid eggs, some of the leaves of the tree were still intact.

Spotted dove sitting on eggs to them warm

Sometime around end of March, I observed Banded Goshawk(Shikra) with its kill, on adjacent tree. It was mostly a lizard (I am not sure). But I had read about Shikra being a bird of prey and also feeds on cheeks of many birds. This is where I felt a little worry for the little ones of dove who were about to arrive.

Shikra with its kill

And one fine day, the eggs hatched and I could observe two chicks. Mother going away from nest for some time was still happening. Also, I would observe Shikra around. So I started to think a lot. Is there any way to keep these two nestlings safe, at least till they learn to fly?

I even thought who am I to interfere with nature? So, if Shikra attacks the chicks, should I intervene to save them or should I just be observer and let nature be in charge? Hypocritical ethical dilemma. I decided to not think much and follow my instincts whenever situation occurs.

Spotted Dove and its chick

Around 8-9th of April, I observed Greater Coucal on another nearby tree. I have observed Coucal foraging on ground and eating food leftover too. I had skipped many lines while reading about this bird on Wikipedia. So I was under the impression that the only threats to little nestlings are shikra and gravity.

Greater Coucal

Finally, on 16th April, my wife called me to tell that some bird is killing the chicks. I rushed to rear balcony. I could just observe Coucal lifting the nestlings with its beak and flying away. As wifey had observed the event a bit longer, she said, it killed the nestlings in the nest itself by poking with beak again and again. Greater Coucal feeds on nestlings of other birds. I read it from various sources, having already witnessed it.

Empty nest after nestlings were killed and taken away

Not being the expert of bird behavior or emotions if any, I am not sure how exactly it impacts. But I have observed the spotted dove visiting the nest multiple times and flying away, as if she is visiting to check.

Red Wattled Lapwing

Post is part of the project- Birds in the neighborhood. | Bird 45

These clicks are taken from various locations from 10 feet to 100 feet from my home in Warora (Dist: Chandrapur).

The first photo is taken from rear gallery of my house when this bird was feeding on ground (Saint Anne’s Public School Playground). This is one rare occasion I think. I mostly observed this bird in pond. The second photo is from a pond near Anandwan, some 3-4 km from house.

Red Wattled Lapwing

More birds to follow.

Eurasian Hoopoe

Post is part of the project- Birds in the neighborhood. | Bird 43

These clicks are taken from various locations from 10 feet to 100 feet from my home in Warora (Dist: Chandrapur).

Observed this particular bird only once on 6th April 2021. It was foraging on ground. Thanks to Ruhaan (my 2 year old) for bringing my attention to the bird by saying ‘baba, chiu’ repeatedly :-).

Male and Female of these species look similar.

Eurasian Hoopoe

Follow for more birds.

Red Breasted Flycatcher

Post is part of the project- Birds in the neighborhood. | Bird 42

These clicks are taken from various locations from 10 feet to 100 feet from my home in Warora (Dist: Chandrapur).

Female/Immature male were spotted. Adult males have a rusty-orange throat that continues onto the breast. Could not spot adult male yet (till 19th March 2021)

Red Breasted Flycatcher (Female/Immature Male)

More birds to follow.

Indian Golden Oriole

Post is part of the project- Birds in the neighborhood. | Bird 41

These clicks are taken from various locations from 10 feet to 100 feet from my home in Warora (Dist: Chandrapur).

Had a very brief sightings and blurred photographs of this bird from couple of months. On 17th March 2021, spotted the male on nearby tree. Yellow and black is one of my favorite color combination for minimalist leaflet design. This birds bright yellow colors and dark patches on wings, near eye(in males) etc. are really distinctive.

Indian Golden Oriole (Male)
Indian Golden Oriole (Female)

More birds to follow.

Shikra

Post is part of the project- Birds in the neighborhood. | Bird 40

These clicks are taken from various locations from 10 feet to 100 feet from my home in Warora (Dist: Chandrapur).

Shikra is also called as little banded goshawk.

Observed a juvenile for the first time on 12th March 2021 from terrace. Same evening observed an adult but couldn’t click a clear picture. Shikra is bird of prey. Had heard of Shikra as one who takes away young chicks of hen. Hopeful of clicking good pictures of adult soon. (Updating: Just a day later, spotted Adult male. Uploading pictures now.)

Shikra (Juvenile-Female)
Shikra (Adult Male)

More birds to follow.