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Bird Podcast with Shoba Narayan
70 minutes | Jan 21, 2023
Episode 57: Australia and birdsong with author Tim Low
A conversation with the author of “Where Song Began.” In this episode, we talk to author Tim Low, whose book, “Where Song Began” has been credited with turning the map upside down in terms of ornithology’s Northern hemisphere bias. Tim proves that the world’s cleverest birds originated in Australia. Tim Low is an award winning author, biologist, consultant and speaker. You can read more about him at his website, Timlow.com In this episode, Tim Low discusses Australian birds and what makes them unique.
10 minutes | Dec 24, 2022
Episode 56: BR Hills in Karnataka: a recent visit
In episode 28, we spoke to Dr. Samira Agnihotri about bird song and how the Solega tribals interacted so closely with the forest around them. This episode is about a recent visit to the BR Hills. It talks about how humans and wildlife can live together in the forest. Listen andWatch how the Solega tribals live and worship a Magnolia champaka tree or a Sampige tree as part of their culture.
11 minutes | Dec 10, 2022
Episode 55: Demoiselle Cranes in India
This episode is about demoiselle cranes congregating in a village in India. Last month, on a trip to Rajasthan, I visited the village of Kheechan. To get here, you have to fly to Jodhpur and drive two hours North. The thing about this place is that every winter, some 20,000 Demoiselle cranes congregate here because they are fed morning and night with grains or jowar. In this episode we explore the Demoiselle cranes that migrate to a Jain village in Western Rajasthan. These are the smallest cranes among the 15 species of cranes in the world. What’s interesting is the attachment that they have with the villagers of Kheechan. Here, they have a daily routine. Read about how a community feeds the cranes here. And read about sacred spaces called orans here. From here: “Demoiselle cranes have to take one of the toughest migrations in the world. In late August through September, they gather in flocks of up to 400 individuals and prepare for their flight to their winter range. During their migratory flight south, demoiselles fly like all cranes, with their head and neck straight forward and their feet and legs straight behind, reaching altitudes of 16, 000 – 26, 000 m. Along their arduous journey they have to cross the Himalayan mountains to get to their over-wintering grounds in India. Many die from fatigue, hunger and predation from golden eagles. Simpler, lower routes are possible, such as crossing the range via the Khyber Pass. However, their presently preferred route has been hard-wired by countless cycles of migration. At their wintering grounds, demoiselles have been observed flocking with common cranes, their combined totals reaching up to 20, 000 individuals. Demoiselles maintain separate social groups within the larger flock. In March and April, they begin their long spring journey back to their northern nesting grounds. They are part of Indian lore and legend. The crane formation was part of the Mahabharata. Valmiki composed the Ramayana when he saw a hunter kill cranes that were occupied in a mating dance.
10 minutes | Nov 25, 2022
Episode 54: The Great Indian Bustard: Update
Our first episode was about the Great Indian Bustard. The logo of the Bird Podcast is the Great Indian Bustard or GIB as it is called. Salim Ali wanted this bird to be India’s national bird for three reasons: it is indigenous to India, it is a large and charismatic bird, and it deserves protection because its numbers were dwindling, even in the 1950s when Ali made his plea. Instead the peacock won out. Then, as now, the fate of the bustard hangs in balance. Will we save the bustard? The biggest problem for bustards: the powerlines that criss-cross the desert landscape. Locals hate them because they are ugly. Bustards cannot see them because their frontal vision is poor. In October 2022, yet another bustard was killed because it flew into a power transmission line, prompting wildlife organizations such as the Bombay Natural History Society or BNHS to once again petition the government to lay these lines underground. In 2017, when we interviewed forest officials in Desert National Park, there were 150 birds. Today too, there are 150 birds. So while the numbers haven’t risen, they haven’t dropped either. There are 128 in Rajasthan’s desert regions, less than 10 in Gujarat and Maharashtra, and 16 chicks being raised in Sudashri incubation centre in Rajasthan. The Rajasthan government has launched a project to save the bustard. Bird Podcast sincerely hopes that this will be successful.
12 minutes | Oct 1, 2022
Episode 53: Birds of Australia: Stories and Species
This episode gives a glimpse into the birds of Australia, told through the eyes of Franck Masna, an aboriginal elder who tells us the story of how birds got their colours and also through the eyes of Michael Simmons who runs Tweed Escapes to show tourists the sights and sounds of the Tweed River in Australia. This video is about the Tweed Valley, New South Wales, about an hour by flight from Sydney. When people think of Australian birds, they commonly think of emus, parrots and maybe the Southern Cassowary. But the country-continent 850 species of birds, 45% of them not found anywhere else. Some spectacular species include the giant Southern Cassowary where fathers incubate the eggs, the tawny frogmouth- a master of disguise, the barking owl, the rainbow lorikeet, the superb and the splendid fairy-wren, which are beautiful blue birds, the laughing kookaburra which is the basis of a song that we learned as children even here in India, and a whole variety of parrots. In fact, early Dutch explorers called this land Terra Psitticora or Land of the parrots. Did you know that pretty much all songbirds and 60% of all bird species originated in Australia. In fact, Australian scientists often talk about how much of a "Northern Hemisphere" bias ornithology has. In future episodes, we hope to interview experts from Australia but for now, here is a teaser episode in which I interview two folks from the Tweed River.
6 minutes | Sep 17, 2022
Episode 52: Amazing bird species: Wood Storks
This is a story about a wood stork called Flinthead. He lived with his partner in Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Florida. The wood stork couple depended on the wetlands in Florida for not just their survival but also to bring up their babies. This is a post-episode trailer of Episode 5 where I interviewed Dr. Jerry Jackson. Even though the audio isn’t perfect, Episode 5 is worth listening to because he covers so much ground. Ecology, wood storks, wetlands, anhingas, and much more. Here I focus on one aspect of that episode: wood storks
6 minutes | Sep 9, 2022
Episode 51: The importance of wetlands: Post episode trailer
This episode is about wetlands. This is a post-episode trailer of Episode 5 where I interviewed Dr. Jerry Jackson. Even though the audio isn’t perfect, Episode 5 is worth listening to because he covers so much ground. Ecology, wood storks, wetlands, anhingas, and much more. Here I focus on one aspect of that episode: wetlands What is the feeling that you get when I say these words? Swamps, marshes, bogs, mangroves, flood plains. If you didn’t wince, good for you. Humans seem fundamentally averse to wetland because we think of them as a breeding ground for insects– which they are. But they are also the most diverse ecosystem there is. And for this reason, they are supremely important. There are three things every wetland needs: hydric soil, which is the scientific term for soil that is submerged in water for long periods of time. Which results in oxygen-less soil in the upper part, which in turn causes a particular type of plant species called hydrophytes to grow. These aquatic plants like water lilies and sedges create their own unique ecosystem– called wetlands. In Episode 5, Dr. Jerry Jackson has a simple term for wetlands. Wetlands are wet land. They are not ponds, or lakes. They are lands that get submerged in water. Wetlands are huge in ecology. In fact, we have a particular organization called Ramsar that focuses on important wetlands all over the world. Wetlands occur everywhere except in one continent. Guess which one? I’ll give you a hint. Which is the continent where nothing can stay wet? Where is the biggest wetland? All this and more in this episode.
38 minutes | Aug 21, 2022
Episode 50: How Israel tackles bird conservation with Professor Yossi Leshem.
In this episode, we have Professor Yossi Leshem from Israel joining us to discuss several things: tracking migratory storks with GPS, working with barn owls as pest control agents, regional cooperation, reducing aircraft collisions, and working with defense forces. Dr. Leshem has won countless awards and is Professor Emeritus at the School of Zoology at Tel Aviv University and is the founder of the International Center for the Study of Bird Migration.
8 minutes | Aug 13, 2022
Episode 49: Bird Migration with Scott Weidensaul: Post Episode Trailer 1
Post Episode Trailers are short episodes in which I highlight an earlier episode that is worth watching. This episode is about Episode 12 of The Bird Podcast in which author and migration expert, Scott Weidensaul talks about the amazing feats that birds do in order to migrate.
49 minutes | Jul 30, 2022
Episode 48: Behind the scenes with Allison Shultz of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles
In which we go behind the scenes to see the fascinating aspects of the bird specimen collection of one of America’s most well-respected museums. You really should watch this episode on our Youtube page (Bird Podcast) or our Instagram feed (bird_podcast), but in case you cannot, included here is also the audio only version. In this episode, Dr. Shultz shows us house finches, parrots, frigatebirds, penguins, condors, munias, whydahs and the many marvelous specimens in the Natural History Museum’s collection. Allison Shultz is the assistant curator of ornithology at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles. In this fascinating episode, she takes us behind the scenes to show us the vast and varied collection of bird specimens at the museum. Dr. Shultz , as you see in her website, has loved animals her whole life, and fell in love with birds during her undergraduate at UC Berkeley. She is a native Southern Californian, and loves the diversity of habitats (and birds!) available in a very small geographic area! She credits her artistic eye for first drawing her to studying bird coloration, but now that is one of her main fascinations.
40 minutes | Jul 23, 2022
Episode 47: The complex web of factors that influence bird migration with Yaara Aharon-Rotman
Where she talks about how multiple nations and habitats need to cooperate to help these champion migrants. In this episode, Dr. Yaara Aharon-Rotman speaks about long distance migration, mainly among shorebirds but also passerines. We have explored migratory shorebirds before in Episode 43. Here, Dr. Rotman talks about how national borders don’t apply to migrating birds and how we all need to cooperate to help them along. Originally from Israel, Yaara has completed her PhD in Deakin University, Australia where she studied long distance migratory shorebirds. Inspired by the long migration of her studied species, she than joined research labs in Israel (to work on migratory passerines), China (where she worked on a vulnerable Asian habitat for migratory geese) and Australia, her current home where she study torpor in local and migratory species as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of New England. Her main interest focuses on how animals, mainly migratory species, respond to challenges, and specifically, their physiological adaptation to global changes. If she is not looking for birds in the field or analysing data in her office, you can find her in one of the National Parks around Armidale with her family, or at the boxing ring!
32 minutes | Jul 16, 2022
Episode 46: Rescuing black kites with filmmaker Shaunak Sen
Interview with a filmmaker who won the L’oiel d’or or Golden Eye in Cannes for best documentary film in 2022. We have a different sort of guest for this episode: a filmmaker. Shaunak Sen’s film “All That Breathes” premiered at Sundance Festival, where it won the Grand Jury award and then won the L’Oeil d’Or (Golden Eye) for the best documentary at the 75th Cannes Film Festival. You should really watch this episode in our Youtube Channel, Bird Podacast or our Instagram channel bird_podcast because we are playing clips from the film. In this episode, director Shaunak Sen talks about human-animal relationships, and how the brothers are philosophers who wear their insights lightly. Questions: Tell us about the film? What made you decide to do this film? Are you a bird lover? Speciestic difference is like jail. What a line. Do you believe that? How did you capture the birds close up? The kites, vultures, etc. The blackwinged stilt on the soapy river. How did you get that? How did it feel to be near the injured kites? In interviews, you have talked about how these brothers have a ‘front row’ seat of the apocalypse. Why do the brothers do what they do? About the film "The documentary talks about two brothers in a lower middle-class Delhi locality, who have made it their life's mission to save kites. These birds, which have been victims of the capital's debilitating air pollution, are rescued by the brothers, Mohammed Saud and Nadeem Shehzad, treated and set free once they are ready to fly again. These two are helped by an employee, Salik Rehman, and all of them have dedicated their lives to this enormously difficult rehabilitation venture. The work is a quiet effort to document in detail the brothers' patience and sacrifice. Carrying on in the face of punishing impediments, including lack of funds, Saud and Shehzad live in hope with a never-say-die attitude. There is an extremely touching scene when one of them goes to a meat shop and asks for a concession in price. It is not easy feeding kites, which are birds of prey. It may sound unbelievable but the brothers have been at it for two decades, struggling to get funds at home and from abroad. We learn as we watch the documentary that they feel taking care of kites and helping them to fly again by themselves are rewards. They love feeding the winged creatures, and the way they caress them establishing an undying bond is marvellously narrated by Sen. He also lets us into some tender moments as when one of the brothers in an autorickshaw takes out a baby squirrel from his shirt pocket, lovingly strokes it and puts it back. Such moments of compassion make the movie a great watch. The cost of this love is unimaginable; although Shehzad and Saud earn a living by manufacturing liquid-soap dispensers, they are much more interested in tending to kites, some 12 hours in a day, and these come at the cost of neglecting their families. In a telling scene, Shehzad and his wife are ruminating over Delhi's worsening air pollution. While she is thinking about their child, he is fixated on kites!"
43 minutes | Jul 9, 2022
Episode 45: Avians to the rescue with Bittu Sahgal
Our guest today is the much-admired Bittu Sahgal. Mention Mr. Sahgal and three words come up: Sanctuary, activism, and conservation. He founded Sanctuary magazine in 1981. It morphed into Sanctuary Nature Foundation in 2001. In these capacities, and in his role as the President of the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), Mr. Sahgal knows the wildlife and ecology of Asia intimately. Today, he suggested that we talk about avians to the rescue. We are the Bird Podcast after all. Links: Wonderful article about Salim Ali written by Bittu Sahgal here. Wikipedia on Bittu Sahgal Some thought-provoking images from the Sanctuary Wildlife Photography awards Sanctuary Nature Foundation Santuary Asia magazine Questions: 3:00 How does protecting birds and their habitats help us deal with what you call an existential crisis? He talks about climate change and small interventions. He compares tigers with avians in terms of conservation. “You save the forest. You save the species.” Talks about nematodes in the soil, tics on the backs of the tigers, the whole ecosystem. 7:00 It is time that the tigers came down from the pedestal and birds need to go higher on the pedestal. 8:00 Birders as climate warriors. Birds disperse seeds, maintain habitats. 9:30 Economists are realizing that the economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the biosphere. 10:20: There is an urgency to his mission. Thanks to climate change, the economy is teetering on the brink of collapse. Technology alone cannot help. My loyalty is to the biosphere. It is necessary for us now to go down to the minutiae. 11:40 He talks about Dr. Salim Ali 12:00 Talks about how birds are protectors of the infrastructure. 14:00 What is a magic wand that he would wave to influence. He says that he would try to influence the brain between the two ears of human beings. Nature is a simple economic principle. If you undervalue an asset, you will lose it. The time for fighting is over. Self interest in protecting habitat comes from making sure that we use local communities to protect areas. 16:00 Can you walk us through how things have changed since you began Sanctuary Asia? How things have go sharply downfill. Forests dismembered. Our power as environmental protectors has come down. Biodiversity that you protect gives a chance for the local communities to benefit from tourism. 18:30 How tigers numbers going up is a facade. 18:55 There is no doubt that the biosphere will win this battle. There is no doubt that we will make life difficult for ourselves. The circle of life. Logic is the same as the tiger. Birds occupy vital habitats. 21:00 Last year, you delivered a keynote titled “To protect nature, start at home.” Can you elaborate on that for our viewers and listeners? In your instagram posts, you talk about preserving little areas of wilderness within the city. What do you mean? Not golf courses, football fields. If we want the city to be future ready, use one-third of what you have for real wilderness. 22:00 About the common Pipistrelle bat. 23:00 Humayun Abdul Ali. When Indira Gandhi wanted to sent frog’s legs to France, Mr. Ali’s reply. Send frogs leg but ask them to give us medicines for malaria. Humayun Ali got people to change using logic. Birds are protecting water. Wetlands. 24:15 Favourite spot? He talks about Ranthambore being “home.” 25:00 How he loves Dachigam and the Dagwan river. About the peace that comes. 26:00 I don’t know whether to celebrate what exists or mourn what is going. Talks about Kaziranga. 27:30 Protecting nature. Start at home. Gandhi quote. The person who does nothing because he cannot do everything is the worst of the lot. 29:00 About his conversation with the Dalai Lama. About monks carrying tiger bones inside their robes. Belinda Wright. Debbie Banks. Exposed this. 32:00 What is the pleasure of birding for you? Human beings are soiling their own homes. The need of the hour is to share your love of nature. Join the BNHS. Birders are going to be the saviors of this subcontinent. 34:00 Are you optimistic about the future? We think we are more clever than we really are. We haven’t learned to use our brains. Like a baby elephant. Darwin said, it is the most adaptable that will survive. We haven’t learned to adapt. We want the environment to adapt to us. 37:37 He loves spiders. Loves sparrows. He talks about children being his main constituents. Kids for Tigers. The tiger is a metaphor for all of nature. Protect trees, protect all that live in trees. How to protect the powerful from consuming everything that there is in the buffet. 40:30 Haven’t been to Ladakh. Talks about his wish to go to Ladakh. 41:25: Message to birders Formal Bio below: Bittu Sahgal is an environmental activist, writer and the founder of Sanctuary Nature Foundation, an Indian nonprofit conservation organization that works on environmental policy, advocacy, science, on-ground support and habitat management. He is also the founding editor of Sanctuary Asia, a wildlife and ecology magazine. Besides the Sanctuary Asia and Cub magazines, Sahgal has published numerous works in both English and regional languages. He has authored coffee table books on wildlife, including a series on some of India's national parks and sanctuaries: The Bandhavgarh Inheritance, The Sundarbans Inheritance, The Bharatpur Inheritance, The Kaziranga Inheritance, The Corbett Inheritance and The Periyar Inheritance and a stand-alone, India Naturally. He also produced 30 wildlife documentaries.
26 minutes | Jul 2, 2022
Episode 44: A life with birds and insects with Dr. Bernd Heinrich
Our guest today is distinguished academic, author and ultra-marathoner, Dr. Bernd Heinrich. He talks about owls, ravens, tree swallows, painted snipes, great horned owls, crows and much more. This episode is about the various birds that Dr. Heinrich has encountered and why he enjoys them. Dr. Heinrich is a professor emeritus in the biology department at the University of Vermont and is the author of a number of books about nature writing and biology. Dr. Heinrich has made major contributions to the study of insect physiology and behavior, as well as bird behavior. Here are some of the books mentioned in this episode. One Man’s Owl Life Everlasting: The Animal Way of Death A Naturalist at Large: The Best Essays of Bernd Heinrich The Homing Instinct: Meaning & Mystery in Animal Migration White Feathers: The Nesting Lives of Tree Swallows Ravens in Winter Racing the Clock: Running Across a Lifetime Questions: Can ravens think, and how could you know? Ravens share food. Are they altruistic? Why did you study tree swallows and what did you find out? Experiences with crows. Do ravens have culture? (basically why live with humans or as in New England are hyper-shy) You studied woodpeckers, too. (It was flickers and sapsuckers- not top-notch science but fun!) Your father is famous for his birds and his wasps, too- tell us about that ! (His book. on the Snoring Bird and yours) Owl. You have had quite an experience with a Great horned owl. Your favorite bird aesthetically— woodcock display -turned on since a lid on the farm Golden-crowned kinglets? Fun discoveries/observations. Anything else? Winter mixed-species flocks?
37 minutes | Jun 25, 2022
Episode 43: Challenges of the Arctic-breeding shorebirds with Dr. Erica Nol
Today we are talking with Dr. Erica Nol of Ontario, Canada about challenges of the arctic-breeding shorebird. Dr. Nol is a professor at Trent University in Canada. Her research interests lie in the biology and conservation of shorebirds across many areas in Canada and beyond. In particular, she studies the impacts of climate change on the habitats and life histories of arctic and subarctic breeding shorebirds.
7 minutes | Jun 18, 2022
Episode 42: Birds in myth and legend. Part 4 of 4
How to bird watch: Part 4. Last Part In which the author loops in some history and fables and talks about her habitat. Birds are the stuff of myth and legend in every culture. Some of the most beautiful poetic images come from birds. My father, an English professor, loved the Romantic poets: Keats, Shelley, and Wordsworth, who lived in the Yorkshire moors in close proximity to nature and wrote lyrical poems about what they saw. John Keats' "Ode to a Nightingale," is one of his favorites. I have read the poem, but I don't really understand it. What speaks to me is Maya Angelou's "I know why the caged bird sings." The eagle is a singular image in Allama Iqbal’s poetry. Iqbal reveres the eagle because it proudly disdains eating dead prey or anything other than what it has caught. As Mustansir Mir says in the website, allamaiqbal.com, this description might apply to a hawk rather than an eagle. Iqbal gets a number of bird facts wrong, but as this website points out, the eagle, for him, is a poetic construct. My favorite Urdu poem is a children's song sung by Nuzhat Abbas: “Bulbul ka bacchha. Khatha tha khichdi.” I used to listen to this ad nauseam years ago, and was delighted to discover it on YouTube recently. Sanskrit literature's most resonant bird image has to do with the Hamsa, which can separate milk and water that are mixed together in a bowl. The Hamsa is used as a reference in poetry for anyone that has the discrimination (or judgement) to simply suck up the milk and leave out the water. Then there was the practice of divination based on the movement of birds that was common to most primitive cultures. When the crows caw, my grandmother used to say, you will have unexpected guests: divining arrivals from the sound of a crow’s caw. As K.N.Dave’s magisterial (and sadly, posthumously published) book, "Birds in Sanskrit Literature," says, superstition surrounds the magpie, not only in India, but also in Europe and England. My tangential interest with respect to bird-watching has been to delve into poetry, but it could be something else for another birdwatcher. This ripple effect is a perk that comes from any deep dive into a hobby or passion; and clearly, I am pushing bird watching as an option. Everyone says that bird-watching requires patience. I don’t think so. I think that the pleasure of bird watching comes from the questions you ask. You can watch a crow and try to figure out why it is cawing at that moment. You can listen to the variety of calls that a common mynah makes and try to see if there is a pattern. I watch the birds come and go in the trees in front of my home and see if there is a reason or pattern that they follow when they sit down and take off. I watch the way the parakeets spread their tail feathers just before landing and see the different shades of green. Most interesting of all are the birds that are sitting still. What are they doing? What are they thinking? Does their call predict something? Is the wind changing? Does that define when they take off and land? Bird watching for me is an engrossing and pleasurable hobby. It gives me great aesthetic joy to watch these most beautiful of God’s creations. Then again, I see a butterfly and think it beautiful too. Oh, but there is the dragonfly with its transparent wings; and the honeybee that gives up its life for its colony. All waiting to connect with us.
8 minutes | Jun 11, 2022
Episode 41: The art of seeing in bird-watching. Part 3 of 4
In which the author talks about how to see. Ayurveda divides us into three phenotypes: vata, pitta and kapha. Vatas have acute hearing and enjoy the sense of touch— if my memory serves right. Pittas have acute vision and enjoy the sense of smell. Kaphas have acute taste and enjoy the sense of touch. As a classic vata, I have acute hearing, as a result of which I'm very sensitive to the sound of birds. As I write this, I hear three birds: a wagtail, a bulbul, and a parakeet. This can become a curse when I hear the sound of a bird that I cannot identify. I obsess about it and go to an app called "Bird Calls," that is loaded on my phone to try to figure it out. It has to do with a way of seeing that is cultivable but not necessarily common. If you have it; that’s a gift. Some people can see owls just by walking past. The trick to quick identification is observing size and shape, colour patterns, behavior and habitat according to this website. I have still not cultivated this way of seeing yet. Mostly I stare at a tree where the bird-calls emanate from and wait for movement. I cannot drive by birds on telephone poles and quickly identify them. Where I score is with the sound. Once I hear and identify a bird by it call, I never forget it. Even now, I can wake up and listen to the trill of a Kingfisher calling at a distance and know that it is in my neighborhood. I know the rosy starlings who have migrated from Tajikistan by their excited cheep-cheeps; the bulbul, by its sweet piercing whistle that echoes around my building; and the wagtail by its loud call, unusual for a bird so small. My bird watching happens through the day. Usually, when I'm bored or have nothing to do, I pick up my binoculars and look out. Usually I see something. There was the time when it was raining. I trained my binoculars on a Ficus tree, and found a golden oriole perched on the top. It did the most amazing thing. It circled and went upside down on the branch, almost as if it wanted the rain to wet its underside. It had been a terribly hot day. As I stood in doors and watched the oriole enjoy the water drops, I felt like doing the same. In another branch, a black drongo (Dicurus macrocercus) sat perfectly sit, enduring the rain that was pouring on its black head. In the beginning, with blind ambition, I decided that I would memorize the Latin names for all the bird species that I saw. I have given up that endeavor now. It is complicated enough to keep track of the markings and learn the common names. This then is the other learning that will occur: spotting minor differences between birds that belong to the same species: white cheeked barbet, gray-headed barbet, coppersmith barbet, blue-throated barbet, you get the picture. They all belong to the Megalaima species. It doesn't come easy but I struggle at it anyways. Slowly and surely, like a tortoise, I'm climbing up the hill of taxonomy and nature watching.
6 minutes | Jun 4, 2022
Episode 40: The pleasures of bird watching. Part 2 of 4
Like most things that require identification, be it wine, textiles, or art, identifying birds is figuring out patterns; like recognizing an artistic or musical signature, or the terroir of wine. It is about seeing patterns, not just on the birds but also on the trees that they inhabit. Nature is both generous and opportunistic. Trees attract birds during certain seasons; and then allow other trees to get that opportunity. The best thing that is happened to me as a result of this year-long journey is the cliché: I feel connected with the universe. Let me be clear. I don't think you wake up one morning and suddenly feel at one with the cosmos. It is a gradual process of shedding layers of armor that you have built around yourself. As I stand in the balcony every morning, gazing through my binoculars, feeling the warmth of the sun on my back and the wind on my skin, watching the dance of birds and the wave of leaves, I sniff the air and smile. This precious, fragile planet that we are privileged to occupy has wondrous beings that are right in front for eyes if only we care to look.
8 minutes | May 27, 2022
Episode 39: How I got into birdwatching and how you can too
Part 1 of 4. This episode addresses a question that every bird watcher hears at some point or other. People who watch us stand still at balconies gazing skywards or at trees, peering through binoculars at walks, or getting excited by some random tiny green bird. Some of us get this question from puzzled spouses or confused friends and the question in: What are you guys doing?
8 minutes | Mar 29, 2022
Episode 38: The Hoopoe
This episode is about the Upupa epops.
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