Pranjal J. Saikia sniffs rocks and soil for a living and shoots birds for pleasure. The geologist with Oil India Ltd in Jodhpur is a birder and the pastime hooks him like a gateway drug. He takes time out and scours the country for something most people might think is relaxing—watching, photographing and counting birdlife. But this outdoor recreational activity can be as hectic and exhausting as you want it to be.
It is so much fun to watch a plucky birder plotting his next adventure. Pranjal’s first step is to choose a place to go. Not an easy task. Birding in India has reached mysterious patches that never featured high on any bucket list until two decades ago. The uncharted hills and wetlands in the Northeast, the salty flatbeds of the Rann of Kutch, the nooks of the coastal ghats, the crannies of the Himalayas, or the comforting southern greens, backwaters and boondocks. Even popular nature reserves have cottoned on to the value of birders and advertise themselves as birding hubs.