It all began with Daaji announcing retreats in Kanha Shanti Vanam during the pandemic. Keeping COVID-19 in mind, everyone who visited Kanha during this period was required to do a two-week quarantine, which could also be used as a spiritual retreat. Registering for the September period, a dear friend and I decided to drive to Kanha from Delhi, for reasons of safety.
Right after the quarantine period, Daaji asked me to photograph the birds of Kanha. One thing that still baffles me is how he knew that I had come prepared with a 600 millimeter tele zoom lens.
So began my wonderful journey into the life of the birds in Kanha. Five years ago, it was a barren dry land. The place has been totally transformed and is now a thriving ecosystem of trees, shrubs, herbs and organic farms, including rare and endangered species, rainforest trees and medicinal gardens.
Following the birds around Kanha, I discovered their daily routine. The tiny and the mighty all have a daily routine. It was beautiful to be one with them, following them, observing them, inspired by their total surrender to all other natural forces.
The best observed were the Shikra falcon couple, who shared a neem tree. One interesting fact about falcons in general is that the female of the species is bigger than the male. The hunt of the black-winged kite showed me just how concentrated its approach was. The little tailor birds, sunbirds, bulbuls and the weaver birds were also fascinating.
I shared great camaraderie with my fellow photographers on our early morning trips following the birds. Brotherhood is made forever.
A word of caution: It is not easy to leave Kanha. The songs of the birds will charm you to come back. I am counting the days when I can be back in Kanha again.
A dear friend, who is an avid birdwatcher, mentioned that there are now 70 species of birds in Kanha. I have only seen and photographed around 30 species, so naturally I can’t wait to see the rest!