A doctor by profession but an avid bird watcher by heart, Dr Jai Prabhan, 70, finds his share of mental peace in the arms of nature. A resident of Dwarka, Prabhan is a regular visitor of the water body in Dwarka Sector 23 and his camera is his constant companion to these visits.
"For me, peace of mind matters the most and that is why I always try to spend more time with nature", says Prabhan. Prabhan’s journey as a birder started a few years back, when his friends took him to explore the Jim Corbett in Nainital. That visit brought Prabhan close to nature and there has been no going back. Later, one of his friends gifted Prabhan's daughter a book about birds. While the book couldn't woo the young lady, it certainly fascinated her father and struck the chord of the birder inside Prabhan.
Recently, CitySpidey tagged along Prabhan to one of his regular visits to Sector 23's water body. Prabhan tells that when he started bird watching and photography, he and his fellow bird watchers would record the descriptions of the birds they encountered and discuss them in meetings. "Now, thanks to technology, we can google about any bird we watch," says he.
It was never in plans of Prabhan to be a photographer some day. However, as in 2010, his days of retirement came near, the thought of sitting idle disturbed him. He sought photography to consume his time which has now turned into a passion. While he started his photography journey in 2010 with a 100 mm lens, he now owns a Canon EOS R6 with a telephoto lens.
While talking about bird photography as a career, Prabhan says, "There aren't many opportunities for those who wish to pursue it professionally. It is a bit of a struggle if one wants to do it professionally. The equipment themselves are too expensive. I believe its better to first seek financial security and then use it to pursue one's passion."
For Prabhan, nature is what needs to be worshipped. Every morning, he takes his camera and visits the water body to spend time close to nature, with his little friends. From the daily humdrums of life, Prabhan has found solace in nature. He says, "I don't know if god exists of not, but conserving the nature is the right form of worship I believe. Spending time in nature is what keeps me going even in this age."
According to Prabhan, activities such as bird watching not only refresh one's mind and soul but also keep the physical health in check. He says, “Being constantly on your feet while taking photographs of birds keeps you physically healthy. For your body to keep in shape for the potentially difficult conditions you will encounter during a shoot, you might need to climb a tree and exercise frequently.”
He further adds, “You feel calmer when you are in nature. Nature photography is a peaceful activity. As one adopts a self-disciplined lifestyle, it motivates one to stay fit." He also laughed as he says, "I'm not a city man, I adore the tranquility nature brings to me.”
With a smile on his face, Prabhan told us about how peacocks dance as monsoon is almost here to attract peahens, how snakey koel by trick put his eggs in myna's nest. He also gave us a glimpse of the spot-billed duck, little green Bee-eater, Eurasian collared doves and also told us about Shikra.
He reminisces, “A few days back, I saw a shikra chewing food before feeding its young in a nest nearby. Close to the gate of the waterbody, I tried founding his nest. The next day, I saw its nest nearby on a tree and I also saw two of the juveniles. Both of them were very beautiful, I couldn't resist myself from clicking some pictures.”
While nature brings happiness to Prabhan, the degradation of nature makes him equally sad. He talks about the need to conserve water bodies and the role they play in building a favourable habitat for birds. He says, “We all know about the water crisis and condition of the environment. Last year in this water body, I saw six migratory birds and this year I saw only one. The condition is very bad because the migratory birds are not getting favorable conditions here. In addition, if they came by chance they fall ill because they do not get food and a safe place to stay. In these difficult times, waterbodies can help those birds to fulfill their needs. However, water bodies also need to be maintained. For all the water birds and aquatic animals, these forests and waterbodies are their home”.