Participant Profile: Gnanaskandan Kesava Bharathi

This entry was posted Saturday, 22 December, 2012 at 4:35 am

gnanskandan k-edited-new

Where do you live?
I live in the city of Chennai.

When did you start watching birds?
I was very much interested in mammals and birds right from my childhood. Teaming with my brother, I took birdwatching as a hobby in 2002 at my hometown Thiruvannamalai. With Birds of Rishi Valley being our first field guide, the first bird we spotted was the Common Hoopoe. This kick-started my interest in birding. After moving to Chennai, joining the Madras Naturalists’ Society in 2008 took my birding to a higher level.

Who would you consider your birding mentor?
Well, the list is very long. I learnt from every birder I met and consider each one as my mentor. Prof. A. Chandrasekaran introduced me to the birds of Chennai. Through constant guidance from experienced birders such as Dr V. Santharam, Dr A. Rajaram and P. Ramanan, I gained a lot of birding gyan, and improved my bird identification skills. Also, my friend T. Varun’s on-the-field mentoring helped me understand bird behaviour and enhanced my interest in raptors.

Please describe a memorable birding experience.
The sighting of Red-necked Falcons near Siruthavur Lake, Chennai, in 2010 is the most memorable one. As distribution maps didn’t show any records of this species from the east coast of Tamil Nadu, my entire birding gang visited Bangalore in search of the Red-necks but our search ended in vain. Weeks later, we went on birding around the Siruthavur Lake which is one of our favourite birding haunts. We spotted a small raptor perching on an electric pole, which at first glance looked like a Black-shouldered Kite. As we raised our binoculars, it turned out to be a Red-necked Falcon – the bird that had been eluding us for so long!

What are your favourite migrants?
Even though I am a “raptorphile”, waders are my favourite migrants, as they always pose a great challenge in identification. My favourites are the Sanderling, Ruddy Turnstone and Terek Sandpiper. Apart from these, harriers and falcons have always inspired me with their flights and are on top of my list.

What is your favourite place to watch migrants?
Pulicat is one of my favourite migrant watching grounds. Areas in and around Pulicat show diverse habitats – open grasslands for harriers and storks, thick scrub that support kestrels and warblers, shallow water lakes housing hundreds and thousands of waterfowl, waders and flamingos; and exposed mud-banks that have gulls and terns. Kelambakkam salt pans are yet another favourite for waterbirds and Peregrine Falcons.

Do you have any advice for beginning birdwatchers and naturalists?
Most beginners and even experienced birders tend to ignore watching challenging groups like waders, larks, pipits and warblers, which should not be the case. Beginners should understand, follow and encourage others to follow the basic birding ethics. Also, people should involve themselves in any form of data collection process and even a small observation will add importance to bird research in the long run.

Why do you think people should care about birds and nature?
Birds are good indicators of a healthy environment. We can also understand the effects of climate change from them. They provide vital ecological services such as pollination, scavenging, seed dispersal and keeping insect populations under control. They are integral part of our ecosystem and without them, humans will perish.

You can see Gnanaskandan’s MigrantWatch contributions here, and his photos here.

1 Comment to Participant Profile: Gnanaskandan Kesava Bharathi

  1. Dr. Nicolas V. Rao says:

    January 22nd, 2013 at 5:33 am

    I am glad Chennai Live has got in touch with you at last. Looking forward to listening to you on the radio.
    Warm regards,
    Dr. Nicolas Rao

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