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Where there is a will, there is a bird

Spotted owlet a nocturnal bird seen in a hole on a tree - branch at Theosophical Society in Chennai. Photo:V.Ganesan   | Photo Credit: V_Ganesan

Boat Club Road is filled with early morning walkers. They march on listening to music on their headphones, chatting with fellow walkers or silently watching the leafy lanes ahead. But very few notice that there’s a whole new world chattering about the trees that tower above the area. Prabha Bob does. The 50-year-old who lives in nearby RA Puram, has been observing and documenting the birdlife of Boat Club for the past 15 years.

Prabha has created a spreadsheet containing the names of the birds she has spotted, along with the time, location, and description on their appearance and behaviour. “All of us have the tendency to observe Nature,” says Prabha. “It’s a stress-buster.” Her morning walks are also bird-watching sessions — she knows all the trees in Boat Club that are the favourite haunts for birds. A particular silk cotton tree, for instance, is a preferred perch for several species such as treepies, babblers, drongos, and parakeets, she explains.

“From November to March, you can spot the golden oriole and Asian flycatcher in the area,” she adds, as we walk with our eyes scanning the trees. According to Prabha, the most important requirement for a bird-watcher is a good ear for their calls. When combined with good observation, this can help in their easy identification.

“That’s a kingfisher!” she exclaims as a sharp chi-keee pierces the air. “Coppersmith barbets produce a tokku-tokku sound,” says Prabha, adding that the birds can be spotted pecking at tree trunks or branches. She heads, Capital Markets Group, in an IT company in the city, Prabha says that even a small patch of green amid a concrete jungle may hold treasures for those who take the effort to observe.

“It that a drongo?” we pause to peer at a bird perched on a tree on the fringes of the Adyar River. It flies off before we take a closer look. Prabha says that Chennai has plenty of green pockets, some of them near the least expected of areas such as Mandaveli. “I’ve spotted herons and egrets opposite the Infosys campus in Sholinganallur,” she observes. “You can also see plenty of water-birds such as pelicans at Muttukadu by simply slowing down your car if you’re driving along the stretch on OMR. And pied kingfishers can be seen perching along an electric cable while crossing a bridge near the MIOT Hospital in Porur,” she adds. Just then, there’s a flutter inside the branches of a nearby tree. “It’s a golden oriole,” exclaims Prabha. “We’re very lucky!” The bird flits between the branches like a phantom, but not before showing off its sunshine yellow body.

Prabha is conducting a session on ‘Beginner's Guide to Bird Watching’ from 11 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. today at Goli Soda, Besant Nagar. Participants will be taught the basics of bird-watching such as identifying birds and will be briefed on how to pursue birding and the birding locations in city. Entry is free. To register, contact 97910 88189.

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Printable version | Apr 14, 2021 10:49:40 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/prabha-bob-an-avid-birder-tells-you-how-to-bird-watch/article6990535.ece

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