The Singapore Bird Group is pleased to introduce an up and coming young birder to you. Raghav is 13 and have been birding for only three years, but have recorded close to 200 species, many with his camera. We do not get too many keen and committed birders in this age group. So we are very happy to see him progress and help with the study of our birds here. I met him a few times birding with his mom at Bidadari and was very impressed with his knowledge of our avifauna. He is credited for photographing the rare resident Cotton Pygmy Goose at Turuk Ponds this year. Probably the second photo of this water bird taken here. You can see his bird images at Flickr under birdbrains@spg.
Here is the interview we had with him recently.
SBG: Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Raghav: I’m 13, and started birding almost three years ago. Besides birding I also play field hockey and tennis.
SBG: How did you get started on bird watching? When was that?
Raghav: In the summer of 2013, my family went on a trip to Taman Negara and at the hotel we saw a line of Oriental Pied Hornbills following each other in a straight line across a busy human footpath. The next day we were out in the field for almost six hours!
SBG: What do you get out of bird watching?
Raghav: The satisfaction of seeing a new species is incredible, and there’s always something happening when you’re out in nature.
SBG: Did anyone inspire you to take up birding and photography?
Raghav: My mom was the inspiration who decided to “just walk” at Taman Negara. From then we never looked back.
SBG: How often do you go bird watching and with who?
Raghav: Once or twice a week with my mom.
SBG: What is your list now? What is your best bird so far?
Raghav: My list is touching 200 including escapees in Singapore. Best bird so far… Sri Lankan Frogmouth from Thattekad. The experience: walking around the bird for different angles and watching the bird’s eyes follow us.
SBG: Do you have a favourite birding site in Singapore? Why?
Raghav: Tough one… It’ll have to be Prunus Trail. The joy of listening and seeing a Short-tailed Babbler’s singing and a Siberian Blue Robin’s bathing is pretty awesome.
SBG: Do you have a favourite family or group of birds? Why?
Raghav: It’s got to be the Babblers. Their singing is probably the coolest thing that I have experienced as a birder.
SBG: Any favourite bird or birds that you want to see?
Raghav: I’m happy as long as the list is ticking, so I don’t really have a favorite.
SBG: What do you aspire to be as a birder?
Raghav: My raptor ID skills still have a long way to go, so I would really like to improve on that.
SBG: How long have you been a member of the NSS and what do you like about it?
Raghav: I became a member two years ago and the walks are a great way to begin my weekends.
SBG: Any advice to youngsters like yourself on taking up bird watching?
Raghav: When you start off, it seems like it’s really easy to add to your list, and you’ll think it’ll be like that forever. But after a few years you start to slow down. At this point don’t give up, no matter how hard it is. Keep pushing and once you see one new bird, your count will keep ticking on.
SBG: Where else have you been bird watching outside Singapore?
Raghav: We made one trip to Thattekad in India last fall and another to Panti in Malaysia (and got the Black-thighed Falconet) last spring. During our China trip, we also visited Chanba in Shaanxi.
Some of Raghav’s most meaningful moments in his birding journey with his comments: