What inspired me to become a Birder

It started a long time ago, probably in the autumn of 1996 in Pokhara. I was in the  garden of a Nepal guest house and a lady was holding a binocular and looking towards the sky. I wondered why she was doing that and what the reason could be behind it. I was amazed seeing her face glowing in excitement. I also saw a book beside her on the table. It was a bird book called “Birds of Nepal, by Fleming and Bangdel”. I asked her if I could look at the book. There were so many colorful pictures of different birds from Nepal. I found some birds that I had seen in my childhood time, around the hills and rivers close to the House I grew up in.

The lady was called Irma Hildenbrand from Germany and she was working for UMN as a professor in the Patan nursing campus. I was going to guide her on trekking to Jomsom Muktinath for two weeks. During that trekking period I learnt how to use binocular for the first time. I didn’t know any significance or the importance of  birds, nature and joy before that even though I was so used to being in rich nature and wildlife when I lived in Chitawan national park. I was always sincere and conscious about nature since my childhood. That trek helped me to develop my interest and consciousness more deeply in nature and wildlife; I tried to know birds and wildlife better. That was the first time I was with a birder in my life. It is demanding, rewarding and helps you be fully in nature while you go through birding. You listen to and watch nature in a different way.

I kept doing bird watching by myself but it was difficult to learn fast and properly. I could not even find a good bird book, which was a bit of bitter experience. I remember that I tried to get a book but there was a shortage and it was so expensive. In the end, I had to pay 13000 thousands rupees for an old book. It is called “Birds of Nepal”, the same one that Irma had used, a very old and ruined book with lost pages. That price was my whole budget of  three months of my trekking salary at that time. Still that book is with me as a souvenir.

Later on I met Vimal Thana on a FAM trip trekking, I was impressed. He inspired me to join Bird Conservation Nepal (BCN). Before I met him I didn’t know anybody in the birding world of Nepal He is now my GURU of birding. So I would like to salute and thank him in this blog.

Most of the birds have different names in different books. I had learnt a bird’s name from the earlier book, “Birds of Nepal” by Fleming and Bangdel, which made many of my bird friends laugh at me. Later I found that the bird names change all the time and most of people are using the updated version of the bird book by Inskipp (Tim, Carol and Richard G).

Why do writers keep changing the name of birds? Is it because they can make money by writing a book that can be sold easily with the new name of the bird? The bird is not any different to me and to many other birders. This cannot change its (birds) beauty even if they change their name.

Wherever I went for bird watching, I have enjoyed it a lot. For me, I feel there a few especially unique and special place to see birds. The small forest of Bajrabarahi is really nice and another is Godavari-Phulchoki in Kathmandu valley. The best places outside of Kathmandu valley are Chitawan National Park, Annapurna Conservation Area, Ganesh Himal,  Sybrubensi, Dhading, Langtang region and Kyanjin Gumpa to Sundarijal. These places are easily accessible and convenient for bird watching at the same time. There are so many beautiful and diverse species of birds in the middle hill, lowlands and mountain. I have heard that BCN is working and playing the role to find out areas of good habitat of various kinds of birds species. They are working to conserve them by arranging some genuine and effective programs.

I join BCN’s Kathmandu bird watching regularly and also would like to request them to arrange birding outside of the valley as well. That will also help to go to locals and ease for conservation work. I’m also involved with Friends of bird (FOB) which is very inspiring, they organise bird hikes every Saturday. FoB has been running since 2005 and has done many bird hikes that I have participated in. I have also participated in many programs of BCN and other wildlife and nature conservation activities. I have heard that there are many organizations that work for the same prospective. I feel that there must be a solidarity program, a joint venture or collaboration between those organizations for conservation of birds and wildlife. Such a joint effort will help work more effectively to raise people’s awareness for the importance of saving nature and wildlife, the conservation efforts and protection of the habitat of rare and endangered species like Vultures, Bengal Florican and many others.

Beside this, I would also be very curious to see how it is possible to apply the appropriate awareness programs by taking local support that benefits all stakeholders bilaterally in a sustainable way.

This writing was published in volume 3/4 (Asar to asauj) of year 13  Monal the magazine of BCN in nepali verson with some revision.

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