Wednesday, December 7, 2016

bird-watching in ICRISAT

I went to the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) headquarters in Patancheru (industrial area), Hyderabad (state capital), Telangana State, India. I was very surprised to learn that there is winter in this part of the world because I come from a tropical region where there are only two seasons: wet and dry. In contrast, Hyderabad has three: summer, monsoon, and winter. It just so happened that I came in winter, which the travel guidebooks say is the best time to visit the city.

Since it is winter, it is an opportune time for me to see migratory birds... and ICRISAT is a perfect place to go bird-watching. Things started off promising when I saw a vase full of peacock tail feathers on an desk at the IRRI-South Asia Hub office. But because of the season, the days were pretty short. If I wanted to do some bird-watching, I had to do it over a free day because after office hours, it's too dark outside to take photos.

So on my free day, I went with a few women (from different states in India) and walked along the fields, stopped to see the sights on a lake near the administration buildings, and visited some of the farms for a closer look at the crops. While they were engrossed with the pulses, I was trying my best to capture bird images. I wasn't using an SLR, though; instead, I was using a Canon Powershot SX720 HS. I'm happy with how the photos turned out. I mean, I finally worked out how the "P" setting worked.

Here are some of the bird shots. I wasn't as productive as the real bird-watchers are because I am really not one of them. And I'm not an ornithologist. Meaning, I was trying to balance bird-watching with sightseeing and socialising with my fellow ICRISAT guests so I couldn't go all-out quiet mode.

I identified the birds the best I can but in case the designations are wrong, I'll edit them later. This is the closest I approached bird taxonomy. Finally, a course I took in college came into use.

black drongo

cattle egret

black kite

Eurasian sparrow

red-naped ibis

rock dove

common babbler

spot-billed duck

Indian blue peafowl

rose-ringed parakeet

laughing dove

Until this point, I really didn't realise that I'm somewhat doing this bird-watching gig as a hobby. A really casual hobby... inspired by IRRI bird-watchers