The word 'companionship' is beautiful in itself. But the moment you step into the world of birds, the word attains its true meaning. They mate, build nests, raise their young ones, and search for food, all by flocking together. It is possible to foresee the actions of birds if we observe them meticulously. And it is exactly at this juncture that a photographer is born.
Beyond the technical skills, there are other factors involved in bird photography. The experience gained through observation is the most important among them. The journey undertook by a wildlife photographer couple Anil and Smitha is indeed exemplary!
The rainbow winged
Smitha's world was her home, the paddy fields behind it, trees and creepers over them. She experimented with photography with her husband's camera during her free time. She took her initial plunge into photography by taking pictures of her surroundings. When she planned to take a snap of the cuckoo that comes to eat the papaya she saw yet another mesmerising sight – a kingfisher landing swiftly over a tray of water kept in the courtyard. She made her first click. What is it that makes this bird special? The quest for many such answers churned the photographer in her and she rolled up her sleeves and set out into the colourful universe of birds and never turned back!
The support from her better half Anil, who was also a bird-watching enthusiast, made her journey even more beautiful. At the point when she had a belief in her skills, she decided to widen her travel horizon in search for more birds. Thattekad bird sanctuary was near her home, hence a prime location for her experiments. Thattekad has gifted the couple birds from various species for them to capture.
When Smitha began her endeavour, she did not know much about the birds she photographed. But as she started observing more, she was curious to know the details of the birds. She says she collected the information from various websites which are dedicated to bird studies.
Favourite photos and the forest memories
"We have been active in the field of wildlife photography for the past four years and it is a passion," says Anil. They travelled in intervals between their business. They bought their cameras to these journeys. Anil, who was interested in capturing the nature, was lured into the world of birds by his wife Smitha. The colour of this world gradually forced them to buy an upgraded camera and travel together.
They explored Munnar, Thattekad, Kunnamkulam, Thirunnalveli, and Mysore in search of birds alone. They could capture the little grebe bird in Moonar. It is similar to a duck but the shape of its feet is different. Another feature of this bird is that it can fly upto 500 kms. The picture of the bird which feeds its pair, the Munia, was one of their favourites. The male Munia communicates the signal to mate by giving food to the female. This is unique among the birds belonging to the Munia species.
The picture of a flamingo they took, is their favourite too. They had to go to Kunnamkulam to get a snap of this bird and returned hopeless many a times. Usually the guide gives the information if he spots the flock. On his call they set out to Kunnamkulam. Anil says that the place is dirty. However much you wait, there is no surety of spotting them. Patience alone is not enough for a perfect shot; luck, indeed, has to favour you.
Apart from the the birds, the couple also captured pictures of a few animals – deer, bisons, and langur. A leopard caught the lenses of their camera, quite coincidentally in Kabani. The first time they went, they saw the leopard at a distance but they couldn't take its picture because it was far. That became a dream shot for them. The second time they went, they captured their dream picture in Kabani itself. They believe that the forest will definitely gift you moments you look for with all your heart, says Anil.
Birds in lush green
When they are asked "why birds?" they give only one answer – their world is colourful. Each species has their own characteristic behaviour. They took a picture of mating 'blue-tailed bee eater' in Nagunahalli, Mysore. They could capture many frames within seconds. 'Grey plover' captured in Chavakkadu and 'black baza' in Thattekadu are all their favourites.
"There are a lot of lovely birds that go unnoticed in our own neighbourhood. We do not even know their names." Smitha says, what they have known is just a small part of the actual universe and in that case she says that their journey has just started.