Ranganathittu's own 'Bird Man'

Ranganathittu's own 'Bird Man'

Most tourists who arrive at the Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary know little about the diversity of birds which flock or have made the riverine eco-system their home.

To the ill-informed visitors, the knowledge of local guides cum boatmen, helps differentiate the species nesting in the Sanctuary.

While all of them are well informed about the birds present here, and can name them at will, Murugesh, a guide cum boatman has taken his interest in birds to a different level.

Having joined the Sanctuary in 1999, he is now able to identify more than 100 species of birds. Noting that the rare species of birds that arrive at the Sanctuary go undocumented, he said that he had to wait for three years before he could save up and buy an expensive DSLR camera out of his savings, to document them.

Even though he is not trained in ornithology, this amateur ornithologist said that his interest in birds grew at a young age. Hailing from Karimanti, Palahalli village, which shares its borders with the Sanctuary, he said that he used to regularly observe the birds that nested in Ranganathittu. “Joining work at Ranganathittu doubled my enthusiasm about birds,” he said.

He soon bought a book by eminent ornithologist Salim Ali and started identifying the different birds that occasionally make the pristine eco-system at the Sanctuary, their home. This has prompted employees at Ranganathittu to fondly refer to him as the ‘Salim Ali of Ranganathittu’.

In the last 14 years at the Sanctuary, he has made several observations. “ I have been observing rare species of birds. While it was easy find out the name of the birds, I thought it was important to document their presence here,” he said.

This thought, led him to save Rs 60,000 (He earns Rs 7,400 and has a family to fend)) out of his hard-earned money to buy a digital camera. The camera which has been in his possession from the past two months has helped him photograph some unique moments at the Sanctuary, like an an otter attacking a crocodile, recently.

“Colours and various attributes of birds, such as the beak shapes, sizes and their speed have continued to awe me since the day I started working here. It provides me an opportunity to learn new things everyday,” he added.

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