Young lad in Chennai spots rare Daurian Starling bird species

Chennai: There are many birds which migrate between countries as seasons change. But they usually follow a rule as to which exact destination to reach and which one to avoid. But at times, they do deviate from their path and land in places absolutely new to them.

Meet Aravind A M (36), a resident of Sathasivam Nagar, Madipakkam, in the city who recently clicked a picture of a very rare bird. He has also registered his finding with the International Ornithology Congress, thereby creating a record. His findings have now featured in the ornithology guide as well. He speaks to News Today about how everything turned out.

Excerpts from his interview:
Q: How did you developed interest in bird watching?
A: I am currently working as a freelance consultant in Madipakkam. My mother Rama Anbazhagan (62) is a retired teacher and father D V Anbazhagan (69) is a retired bank employee. My interest in bird watching started after a i undertook a few tours when I was young. When I got opportunities to visit different places, I admired almost all the new birds I saw. This slowly became a passion.

Q: Your experience watching different species of birds.
A: I have been bird watching for the past eight years and have pictures of 350 rare species in my collection. My first breakthrough was when I spotted a rare bird in Madipakkam itself. I clicked a bird named Asian Pied Starling which is not found in Tamilnadu but in places like Northern Andhra Pradesh, Northern Karnataka, Central and Northern India. I spotted it in Ram Nagar a few months ago where it had even built a nest and laid eggs. This made me continue bird watching even more passionately. In fact, I have spotted rare birds in our residential areas itself in swamps and ditches.

Q: Tell us about your recent record.
A: A couple of weeks ago, I spotted a very rare bird, that cannot be spotted easily in the country, while bird watching at Broken Bridge, Besant Nagar. I thought that it could be a Rosy Starling but after leafing through a guidebook, ‘Birds Of The Indian Subcontinent,’ I chanced upon the bird in the vagrants section in the appendix of the book. It was none other than the Daurian Starling. The bird usually breeds in East China, East Russia, and Mongolia while also migrating to Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Myanmar, and Indonesia. Hence, it’s not considered as an Indian bird. It has distinctive shiny green-edged wings. Before I spotted it, the bird was previously found only twice in India, once at Valparai (2008) and again at Thiruvananthapuram (2015). After taking its picture, I sent it to New York Cornell University’s Cornell Lab of Ornithology. After verification, it has now been added to their internationally acclaimed guide.

Q: Your future plans.
A: While many bird watchers love to travel around and click pictures of birds, I have a new found interest in doing the job in our locality itself. For example, since April this year, I have clicked over 70 species in Madipakkam itself which shows how much love the birds have for this locality. So, in addition to travelling, I will be bird watching in Madipakkam as well.
Aravind can be contacted at 9482004725.

S Ben Raja