Birding In The Time Of Corona
A Google search for the word birding returns the following: “the observation of birds in their natural habitats as a hobby”. However, the term natural habitat is becoming increasingly convoluted, given the extent of “progress” man has made over the years. Let us, therefore, assume that any place where a bird exists is its natural habitat, and therefore, what I describe below is indeed birding.
I would not call myself a seasoned birder, rather, an enthusiast trying to embrace a new-found calling. I live in an apartment located in a densely populated part of Bangalore, where finding a tree in itself may be considered grounds for celebration. I had not seen many birds in my locality to pique my interest, and so the birder in me always laid dormant.
The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic brought with it the work-from-home phenomenon. After working from home for a few months, my wife and I decided to move back to my hometown in Kerala. The birder in me made sure that I packed every piece of camera gear I own. Although I can write a lot about my hometown alone, in the interest of brevity, let me say just this – finding a spot there without a tree would be close to impossible!
Once in my hometown, it did not take much time for the calling to manifest. As a matter of fact, it happened the very first morning – in the form of a wake-up call from a Red-whiskered Bulbul. It was too noisy to sleep! Instinctively, instead of shooing the bird away, I rushed to get my camera. The next few hours were spent staring out through the bedroom window. This became a daily ritual and soon new locations were added to the list – the upper terrace, the lower terrace, and a few other windows. Work-from-home was thus augmented by birding-from-home, and the two-week home quarantine that I was dreading went by like a breeze.
Over the past few months, my wife and I have seen over a hundred different species of birds. Looking back, I find it hard to believe that I hadn’t noticed all these birds while growing up. I am just happy that I have finally begun to see and hear them. I just hope that I find the will to continue birding once I return to Bangalore.