Delhi and its neighbourhood, with its variety of habitats and landscapes, is remarkable for the wealth and diversity of its avifauna. It is a true haven for bird lovers, home to an astonishing array of over 470 captivating bird species. Get ready for an enchanting adventure with Sudhir Vyas’s delightful book, “The Birds of the Delhi Area,” which is the ultimate guide to unlocking the secrets of these feathered wonders! This book has been edited by Anita Mani under Indian Pitta- India’s first imprint dedicated to birds.
With over 50 years of bird watching experience, Sudhir Vyas, a former career diplomat, possesses an intimate understanding of Delhi’s avian inhabitants. His expertise shines through numerous articles and studies on ornithology in the Delhi area. He is also the author of a monograph featured in the esteemed scholarly journal Indian Birds. In his book, Vyas delves into the broader aspects of birdlife, unraveling their habitats, and distribution, and contextualizing their presence in Delhi and its neighbourhood, covering an area of about 100 km around the capital, accessible in a day’s outing from the city. This comprehensive book reflects our current knowledge of bird status, including changes observed over decades. An invaluable resource for the rapidly growing community of bird watchers in Delhi and beyond, it explores the diverse avifauna of the region.
Accompanying Vyas’s words are the breathtaking photographs by a number of bird photographers, including by Amit Sharma, a passionate wildlife and bird photographer, whose images comprise the bulk of the pictures that illustrate the book and bring the birds and their varied habitats to life, as it were. His lens has captured the rarest gems of Delhi’s birdlife, and of special interest is the fact that most of these birds were photographed in the Delhi area itself, except for a very few.
Interview in Gulf News: Revealing a poetic streak, Vyas narrates, “Walking by the Yamuna river in New Delhi and spotting 15,000 geese taking off from the water simultaneously is a stupendous moment; or standing somewhere in the Nepal mountains at sunset and watching snow-white egrets against snowy peaks as they turn pink in the sunset. Or enjoying the wealth of wildlife in East African parks or spotting a Malabar trogon in a beam of sunshine after the rains abate in Visakhapatnam in India. What can I tell you?”
- For someone who hasn’t been to Delhi, can you give an overview of the bird life in Delhi?
- Which are some of the good places to bird in Delhi?
- In your articles for BNHS and other publications, you talk about changes in bird life over time in Delhi. Can you elaborate on that for our viewers and listeners in terms of patterns?
- Can we talk about species. For example, the lesser florican. Have you seen it?
- Talk about some of the varied waterfowl that come to Delhi. You describe many in your book.
- In your monograph on Delhi birds, there are graphs to describe variations in quantities. Birding is also about memory and keeping track. What is your method?
- Did you know Usha Ganguli? She is mentioned a lot in the book. Who are some of the other pioneers in this field.
- You use a lot of Indian/Hindi terms to describe the landscape: khadar, bagar, dabar. Can you explain these for non-Hindi speaking people?
- You are actually the second diplomat that we have had on the podcast. Can you talk about these twin passions?
- Lastly, what are some of your favourite species of birds and why
Quotes from other articles:
“Delhi is truly a birder’s paradise, he says, because it lies on the edge of the two distinct habitats. It has deserts to the west, the Gangetic wetlands to the east and with the Himalayas not far away, it forms an interesting mix of bird life. It’s an exceptional place to study bird migration in north India, lying as it does along the Jamuna river’s migration route.
The attraction towards these feathered friends of nature for Vyas is cerebral as well as a source of pure, unadulterated joy. Relates Vyas, “I could tell you all the standard things on why I’m into bird watching. That it teaches you humility before the grandeur of nature or it makes you interested in behavioural sciences. How natural patterns evolve, why certain species occur in certain places, the nesting patterns and the evolution. All this may be true but for me, it’s also a love for the outdoors, the freedom and the sense of space, and a form of relaxation.”