Srinila Mahesh is a researcher and an eBirder based in Malappuram, Kerala. Her favorite group of birds is owls. Here is more about her and how she started her journey in bird watching…
1. Please, tell us a bit about yourself. What do you do and where do you live?
I am doing research on the breeding ecology of Asian Openbill in Kerala. I am a CSIR – JRF holder and completed my Post Graduation from Farook College, specialising in zoology and wildlife biology. I have participated in various surveys including Kerala Bird Atlas. I am a founder member of the United Natural History Society (UNHS) in Malappuram. My native place is Thirunavaya, Kerala and my interests are birding, photographing, and reading.
2. When and how did you get interested in birding?
Love of nature has been ingrained in me from childhood. The place I grew up was surrounded by different habitats -rivers, marshy areas, hills, sacred groves, and wetlands. My
father Mr. Rajan, is a farmer and we used to walk through these places and I learned many things. Serious birding started with a project I got involved in while studying in 2012. It was about the diversity of birds on the campus. Later it became a passion.
3. Do you have a favourite bird or birds? Why is it/are they your favourite?
Owls are one of my favorite groups of birds. I am in awe of their nocturnal behavior and adaptations. I am also attracted to their cute faces. A lot of myths and superstitions are associated with owls. I enjoy watching them and also record their calls, especially Mottled Wood-Owl. Other favorite birds include Black-backed Dwarf-Kingfisher (Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher), Indian Pitta, and Indian Paradise-Flycatcher. These birds have always fascinated me due to their indescribable beauty.
4. Where do you enjoy birding the most?
I enjoy exploring new hotspots located in forests, wetlands, and such. I am always looking for lifers. I also enjoy birding in my native place -Thirunavaya in Malappuram
5. Do you have a birding partner or a group you enjoy birding with? How is birding alone different from birding with others?
Most of the time I bird alone, as it helps me observe the behaviour of birds, record calls at my pace. My birding partner is my husband Mr. Mahesh and together we have explored many new birding sites. I also enjoy birding with teams, especially with UNHS and Malappuram birders. I believe that it is always more informative, safe, and less chance to miss birds when you are in a team.
6. Anything on the birding bucket list? (Doesn’t have to be a bird, could be a place, witnessing a phenomenon, etc).
I am really interested in birding at Jammu & Kashmir, Northern India, and the Western Ghats. I would like to see Lesser Florican in its natural habitat.
7. Has eBird changed how you bird? How?
I have been using eBird since 2017. It has changed my life in terms of recording species in a more systematic way. It is easy to analyse data. It is also a useful tool to explore species and birding hotspots. Various programs conducted by eBird have motivated me to continue birding even during the busiest times.
8. Have you set any birding goals for the coming months?
For the coming months, my birding goals include exploring wetlands and sacred groves in and around my hometown. And I would like to participate in pelagic and heronry surveys.
9. What is your message for fellow birders?
While watching birds, do observe their behavior without disturbing them. Consider documenting them no matter where you are. Try to get involved in conservation activities that help in protecting and conserving nature and biodiversity.
Cover Image: Asian Openbill Anastomus oscitans © David Irving/ Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab from this checklist