When Rohan Arora got his first camera, a point-and-shoot Canon, a present from his parents on his sixth birthday, he began taking pictures of birds in the colony park. “We never went to malls or very urban areas; my parents always took me to gardens and parks,” says Rohan, who adds that his father, Amit Arora, encouraged the hobby by going everywhere with him, whether it was the colony park or sanctuaries around India.
He began identifying birds by looking at books, his favourite being Birds of the Indian Subcontinent (from the series Helm Field Guides) by Richard Grimmett, Carol Inskipp, and Tim Inskipp. By 13, he says he had a bank of about 500 birds, and he began to put them on social media and write articles for specialist magazines like Sanctuary Asia , and a few English language newspapers.
On the suggestion of his father, and encouraged by his teachers at Delhi Public School (DPS), Greater Noida, he decided to put together a book, selecting 230 of the most commonly seen birds in India, out of a current stock of 650. My First Flight With Widespread Birds of India has a foreward by Asad R Rahmani, the former director of the Bombay Natural History Society. It contains over 1,200 photographs, with introductory notes of types of beaks, feet, and feathers. There is also a glossary of ornithological terms.
With a bird to a page, Rohan gives a brief description of each one’s physical features and sounds, and additional details of size, where to sight it, and the Hindi name. There are also little nuggets of information that appear in boxes: a peacock family is called a bevy while a group is called a party, for instance; or that fact that the pink tinge of the greater flamingo comes from its diet of crustaceans and algae.
The book is a good introduction to get young children interested in birds and Nature, but the editors and publishers could have done better with language and layout.
In the future, Rohan says he’d like to study zoology, pursue research on birds, and help with conservation. “I would like to spread the knowledge of Nature to everyone,” says Rohan.
My First Flight With Widespread Birds of India (Rumour Books India), ₹499, order on Amazon.in