Feather touch

Retired forest official Prabhakar Kukdolkar's bilingual book Birds of Pune is a treasure of 206 bird species of Pune district and 500 photographs

Written by Garima Mishra | Published: September 2, 2013 1:40:06 am

For someone who has been associated with forest and wildlife 28 years,the observation that bird-watching as a hobby,is losing its sheen in the city,didn’t require decades long research. During his service years,Prabhakar Kukdolkar not only experienced studying various forest types and its wildlife but also got an opportunity to explore the rich bird diversity. In 2010,Kukdolkar translated his knowledge about birds into a photo-heavy Marathi book titled Punyache Pakshi Vaibhav (Birds of Pune) that offered a detailed information about 150 bird species. In the past three years,he expanded his research to remote areas of Pune district and discovered some more species. Unlike last time,he wanted to reach out to bigger number of readers — primarily the youngsters. “Hence,I decided to pen a bilingual book – in English and Marathi. Pune district has one-third of country’s total number of birds and two-third of Maharashtra. I want people to explore the rich wealth,” says 54-year-old Kukdolkar,adding that the idea of the book struck to him when he started fuelling his passion for wildlife photography post his voluntary retirement in 2011.

Kukdolkar shares that though he was fascinated with photography since childhood,his family’s financial condition did not allow him to pursue it. In 1984,when he was doing a course on Wildlife Management at an institute in Dehradun,he got an opportunity to visit Sariska Tiger Project in Rajasthan. “One evening,I alongwith a local forest officer,was sitting in a hideout. Just then a group of peacocks and peahens appeared. The soft fading light of the evening and the bright colors of the group of birds,was a feast to the eyes. While the local officer kept catching the sight on his camera,I had to suppress my urge to take photos. That day,I decided to own a professional camera,” says Kukdolkar,adding that in 1985,when he was transferred to Wildlife Department,Pune,he not pursued a basic course in photography but also bought an expensive SLR camera.

Along with the photo of 206 bird species of Pune district,his book gives a comprehensive information that includes — size,habitat,status,migratory status,location,food and nesting season. Some of the species that feature in his book are European Golden Oriole,Ashy Prinia,Crested Bunting,Common Rosefinch,Scaly-breasted Munia,Baya Weaver,Red Avadant and more. The book also lists 60 migratory birds that visit Pune every year. “Besides,the book has articles on laws related to birds,tips for bird watchers and conservation,birds migration,birds rescue and so on,” explains Kukdolkar,who is now working as a consultant in the field of nature conservation,education and training.

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