Telangana is a treasure trove for ardent bird photographers, and a retired professor from the city has published a field guide for bird lovers. Dr VA Manga’s recently launched book, Birds of Greater Hyderabad is “an encyclopedic attempt at a field guide.”
Elaborating on why she chose to publish the book, the second-time author says, “There are a number of field guides available, but, they are more complicated with scientific jargons that a newbie hobbyist might not understand. They also omit information like their native area, habitat and behaviour, and just provide guides to identify the bird in the field; and most of them generally address the birds of India. There are stark differences in the environment and habitat.”
With Hyderabad’s unique combination of rocks-cape with its lakes, the bird populace found in the city is unmatched, adds the academic who finds birds of prey very fascinating. “I have been noticing how Hyderabad is special for birds. We also have three national parks, which are jungles in the heart of the city. So, I felt a documentation of the birds is necessary.”
The book has layman’s tongue in the content, with 500 bird photographs that Dr Manga has documented over the years. Among those pictures are the rarest of birding sights, displaying the author’s eye for perfection. “The book took me almost a year to write and edit, as I wanted the reader to understand the bird, in a language devoid of complexities. There is simplified but relevant scientific information that can be used as both a field guide and a coffee table read,” explains Dr Manga.
Said to include the group character, nesting pattern, habitat, breeding phases, plumage and feeding patterns of the birds in Hyderabad, the book has described the species in just a few sentences. “The book has run to 340 pages, and its aim is to help a non-biologist follow their passion for nature.”
Speaking of nature, the author says her calling for bird photography began a little more than five years ago, in 2013. “That was the time I was drawn to nature and began taking photographs of birds,” she says. Recalling some of the initial setbacks, she says, “First of all, they don’t sit at one place. Secondly, I have to be far away so as to not startle them. Equipped with a 500 mm telephoto lens, I have developed the ability to successfully camouflage with minimal movements.”