Birder or Birdwatcher, that is the question
Birdwatching may appear to be a simple term amplifying in the least the simple act of watching birds. While some interpret the term to be indicative of idle leisure for others it is a mild recreational activity, some even exaggerating it to the level of a sport. However in many parts of North America and United Kingdom, birdwatching may not be such a trivial affair after all. Not to be confused with the scientific study of birds for purposes of contributing to documented evidences of existing species or adding new and their characteristics and traits which is known as Ornithology, birdwatching essentially refers to a form of observation or spotting of various species of birds in their natural habitat with the naked eye or with the help of enhanced visual devices like the binoculars or a telescope. Birdwatching also involves a significant utilization of the auditory component, as many bird species are more easily detected and identified by hearing than by seeing. While most birdwatchers pursue this activity for recreational purposes or personal records, ornithologists engage in the study of birds using formal scientific methods a record their observations adhering to the same recommended protocol. In North America, many birders prefer to segregate themselves from casual birdwatchers, and the term birder in itself is unfamiliar to most. While there is no official record or recognition that sets birders distinctly apart from birdwatchers, most self-proclaimed birders perceive themselves to be more attentive and aware of minute detail in identification, migration timing, habitat usage and other such traits in birds, while birdwatching is perceived from their distinguished eye glasses, to be idle or leisurely activity restricted to a certain space. Whereas dedicated birders may often travel long distances specifically in search of birds with pre-empted information regarding their activity, birdwatchers are their poorer cousins with limited scope, perhaps not venturing far from their own yards or local parks to view birds and without any serious intent to move for the sole purpose of spotting birds.
More terminology about birdwatching or birding as professionals would insist on referring to it, Twitching is a British term meant to indicate the pursuit of a previously unlocated rare bird. The term twitcher, not to be confused with birder, is meant to denote especially those who travel long distances to see a rare bird that would then be ticked, or counted on a list. Apparently a very harmless activity this venture is fast gaining ground in North America and some countries of Europe where it spread from the UK and professionals who are serious about their birding would find it offensive to be referred simply as a leisurely or recreational activity like a hobby instead of a sporting event rather. Such is the competitive angle and aggression to this seemingly harmless event that often birders engage in fierce rivalry to accumulate the longest species list and beleaguer his opponents.
The Aviary Commune of Dooars, A Birders’ Paradise
For any aviary enthusiast in India, which is also fast growing as a favoured destination for peer groups and communities dedicated to wildlife spotting especially birds, a very serene yet relatively unknown paradise of abundant natural benevolence is the Dooars terrain. When the landscape breaks into sinuous roads winding across the overlapping hills, unending shades of lush green of the tea gardens, flanked on the side by meandering silvery mountain streams and high forests of Sal and Deodar, quiet alpine meadows with an odd grazing cow, endless sky, one can rest assure they have entered the Dooars. Moderately steep ranging at around 4000 to 6000 feet above sea level and surrounded by dense untampered pristine vegetation, these areas are home to many primates and rare birds alike. Birdwatching in the same seriousness of birding is growing rapidly in India as Indians are quickly catching up with their Western counterparts over this interesting yet stimulating intellectual activity. For those rearing to break free from the shackles of the urban jungles of concrete and steel, a binoculaurs and a pen and a notebook are all the external tools one may require along with immense patience, the ability to walk long stretches relentlessly and an inherent inquisitiveness to begin this exercise called birdwatching or birding. A beautiful adventure into the heart of nature resplendent with a collage of colours and shapes, one never ceases to be surprised at every step forward. Not just for exercise and change of mind, a solitary walk into the forests allows every person to connect back with nature.
Of the many dedicated places for wildlife adventure, one can go to Gorumara National Park which has plenty of watchtowers in natural habitat for wildlife for exclusively birdwatching and wildlife observation. Apart from Gorumara National Park, other dedicated resources for bird lovers and nature lovers to approach for observing wildlife in their native habitats Buxa Tiger Reserve, Chapramari Forest, Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary and Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary. That apart there are numerous small villages and settlements with their own indigenous resident wildlife where one can take quiet hikes for spotting wildlife and unique vegetal growth.
With more than 1250 species of birds and over 800 resident breeding species, the Dooars is a paradise for birdwatchers and birders alike.
The Drongo and the Warbler and its varieties are some of the preferred and popular species of birds that draws birdwatchers from all over the world to the Dooars. Watch the day gradually change in texture and colour as every hour passes and be surprised by a passing butterfly in this isolated landscape. There are many migratory birds which choose thrive here during their migration period and it draws a lot of attraction from bird lovers in particular seasons. Lying in the Himalayan foothills, Dooars has an unmatched reserve of unadulterated natural beauty. The wildlife-rich tropical forests inundated with innumerable streams cutting across the green carpet of tea gardens and undulating meadows and low hills rising up from the rivers is rich with species of birds like the Pelican, Cormorant, Heron, Egret, Stark, Ibis, different types of ducks and goose are to be found here. The Minivet, Hornbill, Woodpeckers, Fly Catcher, Sun Bird and Pheasants are also some of the other species of rare birds found here.