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      Volume 10 |Issue 19 | May 20, 2011 |


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Book Review

Bird's Eye View

Morshed Ali Khan

I have never been a bird watcher. Few months ago, thanks to my friend Inam Ahmed, I accompanied Ronald R Halder and Enam Talukder, two relentless bird watchers and photographers, for a walk on a marshy land in Shutkir Tek area of Keraniganj. I watched as the two tiptoed around the area and clicked their shutters whenever a bird was visible. I became a fan. As the two talked about birds by their names, I listened carefully. Suddenly, a whole new world opened before my eyes where I could imagine hundreds of colourful birds, each with a distinct feature, lifestyle and beauty. I felt shattered too. There is so little I know about these creatures sharing with us the very surroundings in which we live in. It would be nice to get introduced to the world of birds, I thought and especially to the ones around us.

Meanwhile, I kept visiting several villages and every time a bird peeped out of the bushes, flew overhead or whistled nearby I was keen to track her. With my naked eyes I watched it and in my mind asked, “Who are you? Where do you live? What do you eat?” The questions mostly went unanswered.

Indian Peafowl
White-browed Scimitar Babbler

Last week I got the reward for my questions from a friend. He gave me a copy of Ronald Halder's latest book “A Photographic Guide to Birds of Bangladesh”. For someone just entering a new world, there was nothing more rewarding than such a book. Its cover, with a curious tia pakhi or as I learnt from the book, an Alexandrine Parakeet in a sharp green background, sparks an instant interest for the contents inside.

A Photographic Guide to Birds of Bangladesh
Baikal Teal production; Tk 1350; pp257

Ronald Halder has done an excellent job for the nation. 257 pages of this glossy book, in a travel friendly format, represent a treasure of information about our birds. Every photograph in it is credited to the author, who undoubtedly has given a big chunk of his lifetime to this documentary.

The book has 735 photographs of 472 species of birds of Bangladesh. What is even more reader friendly is that every bird in the book is identified by its English as well as Bangla name. A distribution map accompanies each photograph showing where and when to spot it. Every bird featured in the book is also described in a short text for proper identification.

I was amazed to see the 36 types of raptors' or baj or chil of Bangladesh. There is the Black Baza with black and white combination, prominent chest, white breast band and round broad wings on flights that I have never seen. There is the black shouldered kite or Sada Chil. The majestic Shikra or Shikrey, the crested Goshawk or Jhutial Godashikrey, the white-bellied Sea Eagle or the Shindhu Eegol.

There is the Munia family, the Weaver, the cuckoo, the dove, the pigeons and the water birds – all are in the book – published locally by the Baikal Teal production and available at a price of Tk 1,350.

For me, one thing is sure, I shall carry the book everywhere with me and refer to it every time I hear a cuckoo or a warbler dancing in a bush nearby. Thank you Ronida.


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