Vrinda Lath is a young birder from Manipal, a university town in coastal Karnataka. When not studying to be a doctor, she is usually out looking for birds.
1. Please tell us a bit about yourself. What do you do and where do you live?
I am a 21 year old, half Himachali and half Tamilian, medical student, pursuing an MBBS degree in KMC, Manipal (Karnataka). I was born in Hyderabad and studied there for a few years. My hometown is Una, Himachal Pradesh.
2. When and how did you get interested in birding?
I can’t recall when or how I started noticing birds but I could identify few garden birds even as a child. After my mother bought “A Pictorial Guide to the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent” by Salim Ali and S Dillon Ripley, I began looking at the birds more closely and tried to identify them.
But the real birding began after I came to Manipal where I was gifted “A Birder’s Handbook to Manipal”. This led me to search for hornbills, which in turn led me to the Manipal Birders’ Club.
3. Do you have a favourite bird or birds? Why is it/are they your favourite?
4. Where do you enjoy birding the most?
Although I love birding in new locations, the locations that mean the most to me are Manipal and my hometown. I have spent most of my time birding in and around Manipal and this is where l started birding. The familiarity and diversity of habitat is what makes Manipal so special. My hometown, on the other hand, is like a clean slate. I never know what to expect and that makes birding more challenging.
Habitat wise, I have no favourite. I find forests just as exciting as wetlands or the coast. Every habitat is amazing in its own way.
5. Do you have a birding partner or a group you enjoy birding with? How is birding alone different from birding with others?
6. Anything on the birding bucket list? (Doesn’t have to be a bird; it could be a place, witnessing a phenomena, etc)
There are probably enough items on my bucket list to fill a book. The first and probably the least possible is to complete a sea-watch from the mainland with at least one pelagic bird on the list.
7. Has eBird changed how you bird? How?
Initially, I would only try to identify the birds that I saw and occasionally unsuccessfully attempt to record or list them till I was introduced to eBird. I feel that this has made me a lot more observant. I began paying closer attention even to common birds. I believe that on eBird, my checklists mean a lot more. eBird can be a powerful tool to study birds. It has taught me a lot about their behaviour, movements and how the changing habitat affects them. Any patterns or changes thereof are more than perceptions. They are now visible and quantifiable.
8. Have you set any birding goals for the coming months?
- Learn to identify warblers and Pipits
- Try to see as many birds and habitats as possible in Karnataka
- Record the birds found around my home
9. What is your message for fellow birders?
Keep birding mode on always, you’d be surprised to find what is right under your nose!
Header image: Brahminy Kites by Shanmugam Saravanan/Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab