In this post from the Birder Profile series, we talk with Dr Dilip KG – a long-time contributor to eBird India from Kerala. Dr Dilip is also amongst those who have uploaded a large number of lists and observations from before 2014. Read on to find out more about him:
Where do you live?
Presently I live in Kalady, near the Cochin International Airport at Nedumbassery, Ernakulam. I spent my Youth in Trivandrum, where I have had the luck to meet and go birding with Prof. Neelakantan (Induchoodan), the legendary birdwatcher from Kerala. I am now 58 years old.
What do you do?
I am a Sociologist by profession. I am an Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Sociology in the Sree Sankaracharya University, Kalady, Ernakulam. It is a post graduate department offering M. A., M. Phil., Ph. D. programmes in Sociology. My area of interests include Environmental Sociology and Ethno-ornithology; two emerging branches of knowledge
When did you start watching birds?
It was Dr Raghu, my elder brother, who introduced me to birdwatching. I remember him showing me the Purple-rumped sunbird which used to nest on the Bougainvillea, Yellow-billed babblers, Golden Oriole and other common birds when I was 12-13 years old. Regular but short birding trips started only when I was studying in the degree classes in the late 1970’s.
Has birding changed for you over the years?
Yes. During the early days of birding I was instructed by my brother to keep a small note-book in which I used to take field notes which sometimes included sketches which helped me identify the bird later on with the help of books like Induchoodan’s “Keralathile Pakshikal”(Malayalam) or Salim Ali’s Birds of Kerala which were available at the Kerala University Library for reference. The books which I used to write the field notes now exceed twenty in number. However, my birding enthusiasm suffered a bit during the years when I was doing academic research to secure my Ph.D.
I rejuvenated my interest in birding again as I joined as a Lecturer in a college in 1996, near the Madayippara in Kannur- which is a veritable haven for birds and other wildlife. I started organizing Nature Camps for the students in the capacity as a teacher to instil interest in nature among students. Birding became more organized as we – a group of like-minded birders – formed the Cochin Natural History Society (CNHS) of which I am the founding President. The nature of birding has changed ever since I bought a digital camera and many birds could be identified and added to my list of birds.
Has eBird changed birding habits?
As far as I am concerned, Birdwatching is a pleasurable activity attached to myself. It was never a hobby to gain any personal recognition or fame. For me, the bird is more important than my desire to watch it. I feel that eBird is gradually dragging me away from this philosophy to a more sophisticated birding style , which I don’t know is good ultimately .
Has uploading your records to eBird been helpful?
Yes, from a utilitarian point. My observations in eBird have definitely enabled me to put my scattered observations, organized and systematic. This is very fruitful when you look back to all these years
So many years of birding, what continues to excite you?
Seeing a bird every time, even if for the nth time
What is/are your favourite birds and why?
Well, it is a difficult question. But for the sake of an answer , I would say : Purple- rumped sunbird. May be because this is one of the first bird which I had an opportunity to watch from close quarters, from the childhood days.
Have you had a local birding patch? Can you tell us about it? OR What is your favourite place to watch birds?
Yes. My backyard is my favourite patch. I built my only balcony in the back of my house where there is a large stretch of paddyfield with its occasional surprises.
Do you have any advice for beginning birdwatchers and naturalists?
“Watch birds as if they do not require your watching or photographing”