If you are an avian lover or an avid birder, this blogpost must entertain you. In this one, I relive the fun and excitement of my birdwatching trip to Golden Tusk in Dhela village, near Corbett National Park, Uttarakhand. I not only met Carol Inskipp, author and a leading expert on the birds of southern Asia but also got a chance to go on a birding trail with her. And here I am, back in the city with a reignited love for birdwatching. The day is not far when Corbett may have its own birding festival. Until then, let us educate ourselves with birding ethics, and the delightful birds that the region has.
The Song (birds) of Corbett Landscape
British Ornithologist, global birding icon, and author of more than 30 birding books, Carol Inskipp stayed in Corbett for more than three weeks. During her stay at the Golden Tusk, I had a golden opportunity to meet her and hear her talk on the subject that she is extremely passionate about, birds. The event was called, ‘THE SONG OF CORBETT LANDSCAPE’, where she (the guest of honor) spoke very highly of her birding experiences in this region, the richness of the diversity of the Corbett landscape and the various initiatives that could be taken to make birdwatching attractive and desirable for the visitors. The open forum brought together several wildlife enthusiasts, jungle guides, birders, resort owners, and media to share views and explore possibilities of making birding an enjoyable activity for the visitors. It was a well planned event as well as a wonderful initiative to give birth to birding quest. The need of the hour is to appreciate nature in its many forms. And, the onus lies on the hospitality brands and resort owners to create events and opportunities that would push birding at the top of our interests in Corbett.
Birds are everywhere, aren’t they? They are the only non-human creature that we see almost every day. How can we not fall in love with them? Many species have already been declared endangered. This should be the foremost reason for not taking them for granted.
The birds are not shy in Asia, unlike some other continents, stated Carol. It is easier to see them and be thrilled about nature’s creations. Also, there is not a single day when you don’t see a bird. So don’t let the visitors be disappointed with their Corbett visit if they do not see a tiger. Make sure they learn about a handful of birds before they return. Ms. Inskipp shared many valuable insights and learnings from her experiences world over and expressed her love for the Asian birds.She suggested that resorts must engage parents and the kids with paintings, melodies of birds, etc to build their curiosity and deep connection with birds. There could be unique itineraries made around birding. If possible, feeders could be installed to invite more birds to the resorts.
She also touched upon relevant subjects like birding ethics, climate change, endangered species and bird flu. Human and nature conflict as well as conservation of nature should never be ignored when planning activities of a shared habitat.
The event took place in the premises of The Golden Tusk and it was hailed by the owner, Mr. Anirudh. It was heartening to see other resort owners come forward to support the initiative. The common consensus was that birdwatching trails deserved to be on everyone’s itinerary.
Birdwatching along Tumaria Wetlands
The book, ‘Birds of the Indian Subcontinent’ is the holy grail for avian enthusiasts in India as well as outside. This time, I had both the book as well as the author to guide me during the birding session along the wetlands of Tumaria Dam in the Corbett Landscape. Even at the age of 75, Carol’s enthusiasm was infectious. She smiled ear to ear, every time she saw a bird. She did not let go of her binoculars even once, except when she gave them to me to observe a coot and a ferruginous duck, sitting side by side. There was a thrush in the bush, whose features seemed unique. She did not give up until she had figured out more about it. The conversations with her were very insightful. In my 5 hours morning session, I spotted 50 varieties of birds. Ever heard of a better experience?
The morning felt surreal in the company of Carol. With her affection and passion for birds, she gave me a new perspective towards nature and its creation. She appeared patient and friendly expert who was willing to share her knowledge. Beginner birders like me could learn so much from her enthusiasm. Breakfast by the Tamaria dam turned out to be super fun.
Do you know that the region in and around Corbett National Park is home to more than 580 species of birds?
The number is impressively large but what is more important is to realize its relevance and potential. What do these numbers hold for a regular visitor to Corbett?
Bird-watching in Corbett must become desirable
Globally renowned avian enthusiasts and ornithophiles are aware about the biodiversity of Corbett and have had rewarding birding experiences. It is us who have failed to glorify it and put it on the ‘to-do’ list. The irony is that despite having amazing birds and butterflies in this region, 99 percent of us still plan our trips around ‘Tiger sighting’. And the disappointment that follows (on not sighting one) is another story. I have always reiterated jungle safaris are meant to show us a unique world of flora and fauna and to experience a different ecosystem. Sighting animals is sheer luck. We must not lay our hopes on it. But if you really wish to see and brag about a list of species that you saw, try out birding. The region will mesmerize and surprise you with some of the most beautiful and amazing birds. And it is a lot of fun to learn about their unique features, flights, color complexion, behavior, melodies and other traits. There comes a time when you can’t even remember it all and you are pushed to take notes. And when you return home, don’t tell your friends about the tiger or elephant that you did not see but list down the names of at least 30-50 birds that you saw and learned about. It is truly exhilarating and extremely satisfying.
Birding Ethics, what’s that?
It is extremely important to be sensitive towards our environment and other species. If we are out on birding, we must consider our impacts on wildlife. Birders, and non-birders, during our interaction with birds, must not disturb them or hurt them in any way. We must be extra careful in not harming their nests. If we are venturing in the forests or walking somewhere, it is our responsibility not to damage the vegetation, destroy the low-lying nests, and cause any kind of disturbance to wildlife. Just to get a good photograph or get a better look of the birds, we must not scare them away.
Below are some of the pictures of the birds that I sighted that day. The total list consisted of Rosefinch, Pond heron, Asian Open bill, Drongo, Kingfinger, Dove, Myna, Rednaped ibis, Partridge, Shrike, Lapwing, Greater coucal, ferruginous duck, Purple heron, Cormorant, Cattle egret, Bronze winged jacana, Coot, Green head duck, Purple sunbird, Tufted duck, Gull, Bush chad, Great crested grebe, Wooly necked stork, Grey heron, Serpent eagle, Kites, Harrier, Grey hornbill, etc. The wetlands around Tumaria Dam stretch for around 27 kilometers. Do check out the area whenever you are in Corbett next.
Do share your birding experiences!