As I was packing for a trip to Guwahati in early December, The Family asked me “Aren’t you packing your camera and binoculars?” I wasn’t planning to. I thought of this as a quick trip and wall-to-wall meetings, fly in for a couple of days of intense discussion and then get back home. No time to visit the wonderful birding spots around Guwahati. How was I to know that I would be living in a wonderful room overlooking a lake full of migratory birds?
Perhaps if I hadn’t spent all of November traveling from one meeting to another I would have paid it some thought. If you spend even a couple of hours outdoors in winter in India you can’t miss migratory birds. If you are fortunate enough to have breakfast at a window overlooking even a little waterhole, let alone a large pond, it’ll be like watching a documentary by a famous narrator. The naked eye and a phone camera are better than nothing, but certainly not adequate. Also, given that several of the birds were unfamiliar, I really wished I’d at least packed my field guide.
The days were pleasant and sunny, the air full of the squawks and trills of birds. My surroundings were beautifully manicured, but lacking the hectic life of Guwahati’s center. The birds which do these long migrations are usually larger creatures. Small songbirds seldom migrate long distances, although they often do local vertical migrations which are specially noticeable in Bihar, Bengal and Assam. No more traveling without all my optics in my backpack, I promised myself.