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About this book
About this book
India has a wide diversity of birdlife, comprising more than 1,300 species, of which 75 are endemic, making the country a richly rewarding destination for birdwatchers. This fully illustrated guide describes the 100 best sites for viewing both common and rare species throughout the 26 states of the subcontinent, including the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Alongside a map of each area, detailed descriptions of each site cover the type of terrain and specific spots at which certain species are likely to be encountered. Other sections cover access and possible accommodation, as well as important indicators to conservation issues. A fact file for each site lists the nearest major town; the type of habitat; key species to be seen as well as other wildlife specialities, and the best time to visit.
Customer Reviews (1)
Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne
17 Jun 2020
Written for Paperback
You have to be quite brave to undertake a site guide to a sprawling country like India with a wide latitudinal range encompassing a broad range of habitats and significant travel times due to difficult terrain and poor roads. Reducing it to 100 sites may make the task more manageable but it is clear from the information brought together into this book that it still has been an enormous task.
In 1998 Krys Kazmierczak and Raj Singh authored ‘A Birdwatchers' Guide to India’. The 334-page book was a major compilation of Indian birding sites and was a landmark publication. It was published at a time when full colour was too expensive and the bulk of the book was without colour. It was aimed at the kind of birders who were prepared to endure the hardships of public transport and budget accommodation.
This new book does not compromise on the practical details of logistics or target species or which trails and localities a birder should focus on, but it is an altogether different offering combining the look and feel of a posh coffee table book with a compact shape and size so that it can still fit into a day pack or backpack. Overall impressions of this book are very favourable with very good design and structure. The images are absolutely stunning. Nearly 70 photographers, the significant majority who are Indians have contributed images. Nationals of countries like India, Malaysia and Sri Lanka have inherited a great love of natural history and birds through the historical legacy of being former British colonies. Today, this historical influence together with an affluent and growing middle class has manifested itself in an explosion of bird photographers who are armed with an armoury of long lenses. As someone who has written and photographed for a site guide, I know only too well that the real drawback in preparing a site guide is to find images that show the sites. Wildlife photographers don’t like to be saddled with two camera bodies around their neck and usually landscape images are sacrificed in favour of the long lens work or macro lens work. However, in this book an effort has been made to include images that show the site to help visualise what a visitor can expect. Some of the site accounts may only have one location image, but a good number do have two images. I personally would have liked to have seen more images of the sites, but for a given page count and shape of book, this may have required reducing the size of images or having fewer stunning images of birds.
The sites are arranged by state with typically a double-page spread that introduces the state with a map with the sites marked on it. For each state, there are sections on Climate, Access, Transportation & Logistics, Health & Safety. Because of domestic and international politics with neighbouring countries, and India having a federal approach to government, each state does need such a section as India is a complex country. In the double-page spreads introducing the state, Birders would obviously be drawn to the Top 10 Birds for the state and the section on Birdwatching Highlights. The last section also covers additional information on local birding groups. The individual sites have a tall text box for Key Facts which covers key species, habitats and important logistics such as the best time to visit and orientation information with a local map of the site and details of the nearest major towns. The local map is simple and high level, adequate for general orientation. It is not a detailed site map. The main text covers the Bird Watching Sites, Access & Accommodation’ and Conservation. One omission is that the front sections lack a supplementary list detailing the sites covered within each state or an alphabetical index of just the sites covered.
I have visited India a few times and I read through the accounts of sites I have visited from Kerala in the South to Uttar Pradesh in the North. I was impressed with the detail that has been packed within what is typically two pages per site. The front section covers climate, geography and habitats and the end sections include a complete checklist of the birds. In the 100 sites, well-known tiger reserves, such as Ranthambore, Bandhavgarh and Corbett are included as expected. But there are also some other reserves such as Balpakram National Park in Meghalaya and Intanki National Park in Nagaland which remind us that India has so many exciting sites to be explored. If you are not an adventurous birder and visiting the main tourist trail or coming on business, there are plenty of sites which are fantastic for birding. Okhla Bird Sanctuary is just 10km from Delhi’s financial centre. In Kerala which has good tourism infrastructure, are many sites such as Thattekad which is considered the best birding hotspot in peninsular India.
This is a much needed, up-to-date and beautifully presented modern birdwatching site guide to India. A book like this whets the appetite of wildlife travellers from around the world to visit India. It reinforces how much of the destination publicity for a country is undertaken by birders working with international publishers.
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Bikram Grewal gave up his full-time publishing career to devote his time to the conservation of Indian wildlife, especially working on rare birds. He is the author of over ten books on birds of the subcontinent and also acts as a consultant on eco-tourism. He helped conceive the ‘birds of India’ website, now the biggest birding site in India and ranked amongst the top ten birding sites in the world. He is a trustee of the Wildlife Preservation Society of India (WPSI). He was awarded the Lifetime Award for spreading awareness about birds and conservation in India.
Bhanu Singh is one of India’s leading birders and wildlife photographers. Although he loves to work on rare and endangered species especially in Northeast India and the Himalaya, his quest for finding an unheard-of natural history story has taken him to every corner of the country. His images and articles are regularly published in national and international publications.