Sunday, 26 June 2016

The bird that almost made me cry... Blue-fronted Redstart

Okay spoiler alert - I hate hate hate this bird.  

I am a birder and most of my years I did birdwatching only looking at the birds and appreciating them because I did not have a camera. In those days I tried for some time to maintain a list - that I do not have any longer with me. Perhaps the diary got sold off along with other scrap over a period of time. As time passed - I was lucky to have in my possession a SLR Camera from Nikon - that too was not too useful because I could not afford a lens that could do me any good with birding. Then I moved on to a Nikon Prosumer camera a 4 megapixel beauty with both optical and a digital zoom, the details of which I do not really recollect. During the same time I came in possession of a computer and the magic of keeping records and databases. I quickly learnt and started maintaining an Excel Sheet. It was not extensive, but those were the days that you could not easily get a good book on birdwatching in India. I maintained that as well as I could and - one fine day, after years of writing down names  I lost everything to what I was told was a virus and because of which I had to reformat the disk. Then came the time of me not keeping any lists and records - it did not make sense - after all I was loosing whatever I had in a blink of an eye.

Blue-fronted Redstart
But that itch of penning down what I see was just too great. Later - about two years or so back we had the miracle of eBird launching in India and once again I started out - recording birds wherever I go. In this third year ending I am hoping to reach the target of seeing 10% of the world species. For that I am out day night whenever I get an opportunity. The eBird was an opportunity that promised me a lifelong of maintaining list without the fear of loosing it. 

Now comes the interesting part - having a digital camera now I have a choice of clicking bird pictures endlessly - the problem with this approach is that I hardly have time to sit down, tag and rate every picture I take. But then I do what is necessary during the times I am free and have time on my hands. During one such 'free time' yesterday I decided to sort out the pictures of my Birdwatching trip to Sikkim during Feb this year. While going through the thousands of snaps I came across this picture - a beautiful bird that was not tagged with a name. First look - I was confident that it is a flycatcher or a Niltava - afterall - now I do identify a lot of birds with the pose it makes, the sounds, the behaviour etc. I opened the book and my heart skipped a beat - there was no flycatcher or a Niltava with and orange rump. I looked up Indian flycatchers online and - no joy. I looked up at my logging of birds for that day on eBird, no flycatcher logged on that would have had an orange rump - hey - and Bingo I was about to log a lifer - that had the potential to tick my bird list a notch up. 
Same bird - different perch
The problem with birdwatching is that over a time the lifers come few and in-between. Unfortunately - by an act of self discipline I do not log a bird till I am hundred percent sure of the ID and am satisfied that I got a good sight of the bird. Because of this while there are others whose lists grow faster - I fight and frown and finally celebrate every new bird that gets on the list. Over time this list seems to be struggling to grow - and here was an opportunity that I will be celebrating a tick in the evening. With great anticipation I posted this bird online - in facebook 'Ask my ID' group for identifying this bird. I would have just posted me when I got the reply - Blue-fronted Redstart. I looked up the ebird list expecting this bird to be missing from my log for the day - unfortunately in my list for 21 Feb 2016 - there it was - already logged. It almost brought a tear rolling down my eyes with the hopes of a lifer dashed to ground. How can I be so forgetful? I might have asked one of my birding group members that day for ID and logged - whatever the reason I lost the golden tick I would have made to my list. Now you know too - why I hate this bird...


Phil Slade said...

I love that little story about your birding beginnings and yuor perseverance. yes, it's the greatest pastime there is. The redstart is of course simply beautiful. Wonderful shots.

David Gascoigne said...

Kudos for persevering! Great bird to brighten up anyone's day!

S S Cheema said...

Thank you @Phil Slade and @David. I really sometimes pity those who do not have time or attitude to be with nature - atleast in some way or the other.