Sandeep Kumar Reddy Gangasani is an ardent birder who believes that any place is a good place to watch birds and their behaviour. Read on to find out more about him!
1. Please, tell us a bit about yourself. What do you do and where do you live?
I am currently pursuing my B.V.Sc & AH (Bachelors of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry) from Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Veterinary Education and Research, Puducherry. My home town is Badvel in Kadapa, Andhra Pradesh. I am proud that I am from the land of the elusive Jerdon’s Courser.
2. When and how did you get interested in birding?
In 2016, just when I had started my bachelor’s degree, I used to see my college senior- Dr. Vigneshwaran, and my professor Dr. Sreekumar watching birds on the campus. During the Great Backyard Bird Count, 2017, Vigneshwaran and Surendhar Boobalan took me out for birding and I learned about many wetland birds. They also taught me how to document bird sightings in eBird. Since then I’ve been interested in birding.
3. Do you have a favourite bird or birds? Why is it/are they your favourite?
I love observing birds and enjoy watching each and every one of them. I can’t resist admitting that my first lifer was Oriental Magpie Robin. I used to hear its sweet songs at 4 am but never got to see the bird till some time later.
I am quite fascinated with the Indian Pitta. Its ‘whee-tiou’ call and beautiful colours make it my favourite bird. I remember watching a pitta for more than thirty minutes while it was busy foraging in leaflitter below a Neem tree.
Indian Paradise Flycatcher is yet another bird that I enjoy watching. I can’t explain the joy I felt when I saw the paradise flycatcher in its white plumage for the first time.
4. Where do you enjoy birding the most?
Usually, I enjoy birding anywhere and everywhere as each and every place surprises me – either with some new species and/ or interesting behaviour. Forests and wetlands are the places I enjoy the most. I also like watching birds on my college campus, which is a very good place to observe birds without binoculars. And in my opinion, it is a paradise for flycatchers.
5. Do you have a birding partner or a group you enjoy birding with? How is birding alone different from birding with others?
I like birding with my friends. My birding partner since the day I started watching birds is Dr. Vigneshwaran who is also my best friend in birding. Together, we’ve explored many new places in and around Puducherry (Pondicherry) for birding.
And as a group, I enjoy birding with three people- Dr. Vigneshwaran, Surendhar Bboobalan, and Bhushan Krishnamurthy. I believe birding in a group or team is the best thing so that we can get to observe more without missing too much.
During the Tirupati Bird Festival, I went birding with team members of the Indian Institue of Science, Education, and Research (ISSER, Tirupati) and since then I have been an active member of the Andhra Pradesh Birdwatchers group. Thanks to Chandra Sekar Bandi who taught me to explore other life-forms in nature along with birding.
While birding in team is the best way to learn about birds and nature from other birders, birding alone could help us improve our observation skills. In my opinion, we are birding alone, we put a lot more effort to find specific pointers, behaviour in identifying a species. Over time such experiences make us better and confident birders.
6. Anything on the birding bucket list? (Doesn’t have to be a bird, could be a place, witnessing a phenomenon, etc)
Every place and bird that I haven’t seen or explored will be on my bucket list. Particularly northeast of India to see the migration of Amur Falcon. I would love to explore the birds in the forests of Eastern and the Western Ghats!
Also, one of my dreams is to see the display and courtship of different species of ‘Birds of paradise’
7. Has eBird changed how you bird? How?
From day one of my birding I’m using eBird. It is easier to keep a record of species, date, time, and location with eBird.
One of the biggest changes that eBird brought in me is recording the bird sounds. I record the calls and songs of birds regularly. This has completely changed the way I watch birds.
8. Have you set any birding goals for the coming months?
My goal for the coming months is to explore the lakes and forest fringes around my hometown.
9. What is your message for fellow birders?
My short and simple message to fellow birders is to continue birding for life and try to conserve and protect nature and birds.
I would like to thank eBird, my mentors, my parents, and all my friends for supporting and helping me pursue my hobby.
Cover Image: Indian Pitta © Shivam Bhatt/ML Library at the Cornell Lab