Kashmiri Bird Watcher’s Rare Avian Sightings Giving Wing to Passion


 Ansar Ahmad with an owl he not too long ago saved. KO Photographs by Ansar Ahmad

In instances of avian flu and seasonal migration of birds, a younger Kashmiri man is busy discovering and capturing some unusual winged creatures within the valley.

By Badar Bashir

AS the primary Kashmiri snapper to find White Breasted Water-Hen, Steppe Gull, Rufous Napped Niltawa with photographic evidences, Ansar Ahmad, 28, from Nishat Srinagar, has a poetic introduction about himself: “Mountains are my house, birds are my household and images is a bond between me and my household.

Three years in the past, when a sudden ruffling of leaves occurred exterior his window, a chicken watcher took an abrupt delivery in Ansar.

That day, he remembers, he tirelessly waited for an avian visitor behind the ruffling of leaves. It took him a while to identify a chicken consuming an apple.

He grabbed his digital camera, zoomed in, into the chicken and pulled his first ever picture of a rose-ringed parakeet.

First image of Ansar from his window.

Subsequent time, as an keen bird-watcher, he was sitting on Srinagar’s Foreshore space—in an obvious doubtful method behind the bushes.

He was quietly picturing a white-breasted water hen paddling its manner within the serpentine water physique.

“I used to be very excited and known as my good friend Riyaz,” Ansar remembers. “He instantly responded in disbelief and thought I used to be joking, however then I despatched him the images and shortly we had been raving in happiness.”

Earlier in his childhood playmate, Sheikh Riyaz, Ansar had discovered a bird-watching companion. They talk about about birds and get excited over new avian findings.

However Ansar’s wanderlust into woods and wilderness for capturing the winged creatures has already made him Kashmir’s adept bird-watcher.

“There’re 266 chicken species in Kashmir, and I’ve coated 161,” he says, including, “really, there’re 366, however 100 are widespread between Jammu and Kashmir”.

After exploring and clicking each new chicken, he takes the assistance of a area information, or an e-bird group—identified for its bird-identifying App.

“I add picture of unknown chicken on that App, after which they reply with the identify of the chicken,” Ansar says.

“In the event that they doubt the existence of chicken particularly place, they name me or mail me asking the place the chicken was seen, what the habitat was surrounding them. They test all of it, after which they affirm our sightings.”

 Gray-headed canary flycatcher present in Dachigam.

Ansar lives a quintessential bird-watcher’s life. He likes speaking about birds and will get excited by uncommon avian species.

Amongst all of the birds, he informs, Kashmir Flycatcher particularly belongs to Kashmir, “but it surely migrates out in winters, furthermore, it has completely different breeding locations.”

In absence of birds, a lot of his days finish with none sighting.

“I as soon as went to seize Himalayan Monal,” he says. “I needed to anticipate 3 hours simply to have its flying shot however ultimately I needed to go away empty-handed. It’s by no means a simple job to take images of birds.”

However then, some days do turn into a rainbow within the bird-watcher’s life.

One such second got here throughout his current outing in Dachigam. In a single day, he got here throughout 25 species, together with Golden Eagle and Orange Bulfinch, that are uncommon birds in Kashmir.

 Lengthy-eared owl visited Kashmir in 2018 in Mansbal Space.

Again in 2018, the younger chicken watcher began his images after seeing the chirpy friends frequenting his neighborhood orchard. His youthful admiration of birds grew into ardour at each avian sight after that.

“I’d sit on my window for hours collectively ready for birds to come back, and they’d,” Ansar continues. “Typically we each would eat the identical fruit, removed from one another. And I’d click on their moments.”

After capturing greater than 35 chicken species from his window, the development of residential homes contained in the orchard has now restricted birds from visiting.

“Birds don’t like disturbed locations,” he says whereas blinking his eyes firmly.

 Orange bullfinch solely present in India and Pakistan. Foreigners are excited to seize this stunning chicken.

As a part of his routine, nonetheless, the avian aficionado—who can proclaim the identify of the chicken from its chirping—silently steps between the timber of Rajparian Wildlife Sanctuary.

Holding his lengthy lens digital camera, he eyes round with out lacking a mud in air and deftly follows the chicken. The nearer he will get, the distant the chicken flies.

“Birding is an artwork of perseverance and endurance,” the avid chicken watcher continues.

“I observe them and transfer into them patiently, their pure intuition makes them scrutinize us. They sit on branches to know us. There’s doubt about us they usually disguise and peek. They don’t cease studying us. Seconds cross they usually rule out any imminent menace. They ease themselves and I set up my ardour of their ease.”

 Ansar, the chicken watcher

Although Ansar’s ardour performs disguise and search behind the timber, he’s sure to hunt the hiding. The bird-watcher doesn’t wish to miss a vibrant chicken sitting on a withered tree.

“Initially it was troublesome for me to get photos,” he recounts his winged journey.

“I used to leap nearer, bustling them into unawares. They might be gone in a jiffy, which might damage me so much and go away me with questionable expressions. This occurred half a dozen instances and I realized I can’t go near them. I wanted a digital camera with higher zoom, in order that I may watch from distance with out disturbing them. And I obtained one Nikon D750 with 150-600mm G2 lens.”

 Crimson-crusted pochard clicked by Ansar close to Foreshore Highway, Srinagar.

Ansar fancies birds out and in, and nature doesn’t disappoint him.

As soon as within the morning he moved out for work and surprisingly discovered a chicken. Dashing again, he flung the door, and snatched the digital camera from his wardrobe.

“All of the individuals in my house thought what satan did I see and my mom instantly mounted their thought saying, ‘It’s the identical outdated birds he’s chasing’. And ultimately I did seize the chicken.”

The identical devotion made the grueling lockdown in Kashmir simpler for him.

When everybody was in search of methods to cross the hours, Ansar would expend his time in bird-watching.

“One may evidently really feel recent air and higher visibility throughout lockdown,” he says. “The images had been clear and I may simply detect birds and discern the specie.”

  Verditer Fly Catcher. That is the chicken he captured when he rushed again house to seize his digital camera.

A authorities worker in Animal Husbandry Division, he buys his equipment from his wage and strikes out to locations on holidays to search out birds.

As somebody whose ardour lies within the sky and on the timber, Ansar can’t resist birds.

Not too long ago, when his good friend knowledgeable him about an owl, he instantly scooted to that place, and known as the physician after seeing the chicken inactively making an attempt to clip into hiding.

“The owl was ailing,” he says. “The medico prescribed some medicines and I fed the chicken with it over the night time.”

Subsequent morning the owl appeared livened up.

“He fluttered in happiness,” Ansar remembers. “I stripped the owl off the restrain and took to the place of his habitat of timber and eventually he was there within the sky, rounding the place.”

 Steppe Gull, first photographic document in Kashmir, captured by Ansar.

Ansar’s frequent bird-watching outings make him be apologetic about the fading inexperienced within the valley.

“The timber we minimize are habitat to birds,” he says, “and when timber are gone, the birds are naturally gone. We aren’t solely affecting the local weather, but in addition stealing the properties of birds.”

However as a chicken photographer, Ansar believes that he’s enjoying his half to guard atmosphere.

“I really feel like chicken photographer can be a conserver, he conserves nature,” he says. “I trek into the locations and decide up the polythene every time I discover one. It’s heartbreaking to see wrappers on such pristine locations.”

Lovely birds go to stunning locations, he asserts, and when a spot turns into littered, it spoils the temper of birds compelling them to search out one other place for residing.

“It’s crucial for individuals to know the chicken range we’re blessed with. I’m a medium to inform individuals what number of birds now we have, how a lot biodiversity in birdlife now we have right here, they have to comprehend it. I inform them via my images that we don’t solely have widespread mynas and sparrows, now we have 266 extra chicken species.”

 White breasted waterhen. Ansar is the primary photographer to find it.

Ansar equally resents the deplorable situation of water-bodies in Kashmir.

Since a yr now, he says, authorities has not attended to Shalbough wetland.

“It has grow to be polluted leading to adjustments in water birds habitation,” he says. “The birds that used to come back there didn’t go to this yr.”

Whereas as, in one other wetland, Hokersar, birds go to in good numbers, as a result of it’s protected underneath wildlife.

“They put all of the efforts there, prohibit poaching and supply safety to the winter guests,” the bird-watcher says.

 White throated bushtit, one of many rarest birds in Kashmir captured by Ansar.

To create consciousness in regards to the birds and provides wings to ardour, Ansar together with others has floated a bunch named ‘Birds of Kashmir’, which runs underneath the tagline: ‘Birds and birders haven’t any boundaries.’

“After we began importing images on social networking websites, we obtained a heat response from individuals,” Ansar says.

“It was thrilling for a lot of of our viewers. Folks from completely different locations and international locations contacted us for accompanying them on their bird-watching visits. I’m blissful that our tribe is rising within the valley in the present day.”

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