The Avian Fever
“I’m like a bird, I’ll only fly away… I don’t know where my soul is, I don’t know where my home is”
Taking inspiration from Nelly Furtado’s I’m Like A Bird:
Meet my husband Kunal Pawar. My best friend from 4 years ago – and the man that guided, influenced and instilled something in me I had never imagined even in my vividest of dreams – A Love For Birds!
Kunal hails from Pune, once a naughty teen, treaded his steps into building a rewarding career with hotels. Managing Food and Beverage at Hilton Bangalore Embassy Golflinks, and a Cancerian by sign, Kunal is a practical creativist to say. His love for photography dates back to his teenage- toying and experimenting around with the yesteryear optical instruments. Running as proportionate to Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, Kunal’s possession of Cameras took shape over years. Each buy was a token of achievement for the growing lad, who earned to invest in his dreams.
What was extraordinary about his proclivity towards Photography was also his developed interest in Ornithology. Kunal, to this day is an avidly marvelous Birder – with an encyclopaedia wide knowledge of Birds of the Indian Sub-continent. This hobby of his was infectious – though I do not possess or hold Photography Expertism, I am underway to reaching the level of his vast knowledge of Birds.
Kunal’s has in fact already commenced trotting across the Indian subcontinent in his hunt of becoming the next Salim Ali! His feet have stepped over various regions such as: the Western Ghats and Sahyadris of Maharashtra, which is a vital zoogeographical region that plays host to the Malabar Grey Hornbill, Crimson backed Sunbird and others. Coastal Birding and Western Ghats of Goa – the combination of freshwater lakes and wetlands, saline coastal lagoons, mud flats, grasslands, cultivated fields and lowland scrub forest hosts many species such as- Indian Pittas, Orange-headed Thrushes, Pheasant-tailed Jacanas, Black-hooded Orioles and many more. Kanha National Park has open grasslands and meadows, areas with dense forests, many water bodies and lakes, network of running streams and nalas and under growth vegetation creating ambience and environment viable to support and nurture variety of birds. Great Himalayan Region – The altitude differences coupled with climatic diversity and heavy rainfall make the Himalaya an unique home for some of the most beautiful and sought after birds in the world. And finally, Lalbagh, the lungs of Bangalore which plays host to many birds due to its lush vegetation and greenery – where he finally managed to complete his “Pursuit of the Barbet”
Kunal’s Top Bird Shots with ID – Canon 60D Sigma 150-500 mm
Black-naped Monarch (Sinhagad Valley, Maharashtra)
Indian Baya Weaver (Purandar Valley, Maharashtra)
Oriental White-eye (Amboli, Maharshtra)
Gulls in Action (Bhigwan Lake, Maharashtra)
Common Kingfisher (Karmali Lake, Goa)
Common Flameback Woodpecker (Miramar, Goa)
White-cheeked Barbet (Lalbagh, Bangalore)
Spotted Owlet (Lalbagh, Bangalore)
Kunal’s Dream Clicks:
- Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher, most brightly colored and the smallest of all kingfisher species, it is possibly found nearby streams in high dense forests of Western Ghats.
- Asian Paradise Flycatcher (Male) when you see these birds for the first time, then it appears as if you are seeing something emerge out of paradise.
- White Bellied Sea Eagle is a large gray and white raptor, known as the King of the Sea Coast.
- Malabar Trogon if the avian population ever decided to hold a beauty contest, then the Malabar Trogon would be a serious contender for the title! The bird is found in deep, secluded forests.
- Brown Fish Owl is generally large and a widespread resident of our Indian Wilderness. It is primarily characterized by distinct ear tufts.
Greater Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life. During his tenure at Goa, Kunal has not only captured the wings in their wild – but has truly lived his love for them! There have been two distinct instances when Kunal has rescued birds and tended to them in his best capacities to rejuvenation. Once a juvenile Brahmini Kite and once a Barbet both who were devoid of flight due to injuries – Kunal gave them shelter amidst the lush greens, supplied sufficient water to intake and fed them at intervals. He nurtured them as if they were his own and subsequently handed them over to the forest department. I am extremely proud to this day, that my significant other reinfused life in the fragiles.
Many a time, Kunal wakes up at wee hours in the morning – even before the Sun has risen, taking us all sleepy-head friends to his Early Morn’n Birding Session. You ought to give it to this man, who drives the car with all that zeal, right out of his sleep. All of us clad in camouflaged clothing and as if ready for camping, we have had many memories and fun ones during these trips!
There is this thing about Photo Walks – Spotting Excellence and Shooting Excellence. As a couple now, Kunal and I have been heading out to various destinations across cities simply in search of BIRDS. Not a typical activity for couples spending time together – but hey, we’re hardly romantics! We would rather do this (its time I deployed a DSLR too!) than fancy a date about town. Playing the Photographer’s Assistant, we scurry into the denser orchards, gardens and forests along that little forest trail. With alarmed ears and eyes, and the Canon 600D at steady, I play the Spotter between the two. My sight has been thus practiced and trained to spot movements which can easily be missed by the eye. Once spotted, I simply have to hush Kunal and point out to the yonder. And a string of clicks – Kunal’s pursuit begins. And like a little child, Kunal comes up to me to show me his newly prized possession, seeking my recognition. And this is our never-ending duo’s grand tale of the Hunter and the Shooter.
The man’s ultimate chimera of globe-trotting and trailing the winged creatures everywhere to curate a grandeur of a Scrapbook of the “Feathers of the World” is ever aspirational! I do dream of a day where we find ourselves amidst the Amazon thickets, and that picturesque scene from Rio – with Macaws, Toucans, Parakeets and Cockatoos, all graciously posing exclusively for you …