The Telegraph
Wednesday , June 4 , 2014
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‘Camera’derie with Jharkhand’s chirpy crowd

- Photographer forester makes 200 avian species found in state famous on Facebook

A.T. Mishra, conservator of forests (Ranchi territorial circle), boasts a special bond with Jharkhand’s feather friends.

An avid birder and wildlife photography enthusiast, the 47-year-old treks through vast swathes of forests across Ranchi, Palamau, Latehar, East Singhbhum, West Singhbhum and Seraikela-Kharsawan districts for random clicks and uploads the pictures on Facebook. His primary objective is to popularise the state’s rich biodiversity through social networking, while a book on the winged wonders is also on the anvil.

Armed with his binoculars and digital SLR camera, Mishra has compiled a bird library that flaunts freeze frames of 300 species and nearly 200 of them are from Jharkhand’s dense woodlands.

“I am now looking for a suitable publisher for my book on the birds of Jharkhand. I have plenty of pictures and some are very rare. These birds have not been seen in the state for a long time. My ambition is to bring Jharkhand’s avian wealth to global light,” said the green crusader who received the prestigious Indira Priyadarshini Vriksha Mitra Award, the highest honour for an environmentalist in India, in 2010.

A postgraduate in agronomy from Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology, Bhubaneswar, birding began as a pastime for Mishra in 2011 when he was posted as the divisional forest officer of Seraikela-Kharsawan. As a hobby, he spotted and captured birds with his then plain digital camera.

“I was awe-struck by the diversity at Sitarampur reservoir in Seraikela. Every time I clicked a picture, I rushed and referred to books to identify them. I can’t really remember when the pastime became a passion,” he said.

Being a conservator of forests, Mishra has the privilege of travelling extensively. He never forgets his binoculars and camera. His favourite bird-watching haunts include the Dalma Wildlife Sanctuary, forests of Seraikela and Silli and even the forest guesthouse in Kandra. Some of Mishra’s stunning shots has found pride of place in Sanctuary Asia, one of India’s leading wildlife magazines.

Uploading pictures of birds on Facebook has, on the other hand, become an awareness-spurred obsession. For, Mishra feels there are many species still unexplored. Humble to the core, he sometimes seeks help from the Bombay Natural History Society to identify birds.

Mishra’s valuable picture collection includes the black-headed oriole, the golden oriole, the blossom-headed parakeet, the leaf bird, the yellow-legged green pigeon and the blue verditer flycatcher.

“Recently I went to Netarhat and spotted a blue-bearded bee-eater. I have even clicked a spot-billed pelican, a near-threatened species, in Jharkhand. Several species need to be documented and hence, my book pursuit,” he said. On why just birds, he added: “There is so much to learn from them. Imagine the perseverance of a weaver bird or the talent of the Asian koel.”

Do you know anyone who shares a similar passion? Tell