Architect, artist, birder, photographer, recordist: Esha wears many hats effortlessly. Read here to find out about Esha and what makes her tick…
1. Please tell us a bit about yourself. What do you do and where do you live?
I’m a professional architect passed out from CEPT University, Gujarat and I am currently living in Ahmedabad.
2. When and how did you get interested in birding?
I used to work in an office (close to the Sabarmati River) situated in one of the greenest parts of Ahmadabad. It had a small pond overlooking the terrace. Once I noticed a bird sitting by that pond and fortunately I had a small camera. I clicked and sent photos of it to my cousin who was then into birdwatching. He identified it as a Black-crowned Night-Heron. The next weekend I went with him to explore some more birds and I was in awe watching all the beautiful birds. I simply got dragged into this fascinating world of birds.
3. Do you have a favourite bird or birds? Why is it/are they your favourite?
For me, to pick one favourite bird is not really possible but if I have to select a few then Wallcreeper (because of its colour combination), Grandala (for the amazing electric blue), Malabar Whistling-Thrush (for the melodious tune), Yellow-legged Buttonquail (for the sighting we had of the bird) would be a few of many others for various reasons.
4. Where do you enjoy birding the most?
I mostly enjoy birding in forests and grasslands.
5. Do you have a birding partner or a group you enjoy birding with? How is birding alone different from birding with others?
Soon after getting closer to birds, I joined Team WildArt, which was founded by Kunan Naik and Mital Patel. Manjeet and Yograj Jadeja had joined Team WildArt the previous year. This is when my real birding journey began. Kunan is a great mentor and a birding partner and we always bird together. I also love to bird with my team as we all share a different equation altogether. We are like a family. But otherwise a few times a year I go birding alone especially when it’s not possible for the others in the team to travel together. I sometimes spend time with birds by painting them.
Paintings of Great Indian Bustard & Plum-headed Parakeet by Esha Munshi
6. When did you start as a recordist? What inspired you? What equipments you use and do you have any interesting experience to share (It could be regarding recording a particular species or a memorable moment while recording)?
After our trip to Bhutan in 2014, we got a recorder zoom H4N. In the beginning, Kunan was recording all the calls and I was using the camera. I really don’t know when the transition happened exactly but if I remember correctly, after 2015 in order to upload more sounds on eBird to contribute to science, I started taking recording more seriously. Attending the Sound Recording and Analysis workshop by Macaulay Library at NCBS was the turning point of my life and since there has been no looking back.
Currently, we use the TASCAM DR-100 MkIII recorder and Sennheiser 600 MKE mic.
It is difficult to choose which of the recording experiences are memorable for there are so many. But I would have to say, recording Narcondam Hornbill, Yellow-legged Buttonquail, Grandala, and Yellow-throated Laughingthrush are a few. One of my favourite recordings is of the Swamp Grass-Babbler. I was hidden in the marsh and the bird was singing just about 2 feet away from me. I had the chance to record a 3 min long song continuously.
7. Anything on the birding bucket list? (Doesn’t have to be a bird, could be a place, witnessing a phenomenon, etc)
My birding bucket list is not actually a bucket list since I want to see and experience all the birds of the world and everything to do with them. I simply love everything that is connected to birds or birding.
8. Has eBird changed how you bird? How?
I must say eBird has played one of the major roles in making this happen. It is my go-to place for everything related to birds and birding.
9. Have you set any birding goals for the coming months?
For the coming months, my plan is to bird in the unexplored areas of Gujarat and maybe even go to Andaman and Nicobar Islands for some endemics.
10. What is your message for fellow birders?
Header Image: European Bee-eaters by Esha Munshi