Mar 28, 2010

Bad Birding Pictures, Good Birding Trip

I have a 6 mega pixel Nikon S4 digital camera, that is as good or as bad as most digital cameras, except for a decent 10X optical zoom, and a swivel screen.

That said, I can now be forgiven for the quite sad to very sad quality of pictures that I took of birds I saw during a recent birding trip to Pangot.

The Jungle Lore Birding Lodge in Pangot, is such a wonderful place to holiday in, and if you are a birder (or are trying to become a birder, like me), then it is heaven on earth.

It is about 15/20 kilometers from Nainital, ahead of Kilbury. The road leading to Pangot, from the point where it turns off from the main Haldwani Nainital road, itself is a high. A meandering badly maintained but safe road that sees not more than two vehicles an hour, it goes through beautiful forests and swerves along streams and then reaches the hamlet of Pangot.

Red Billed Blue Magpie

I’ve been to Pangot many times, and sadly each time there is a little bit more construction around the Jungle Lore Birding Lodge. I feel a little bit sadder, but it remains and will remain a fabulous getaway. Just a few cottages, very carefully placed on a hillside, with just the right balance of trees, shrubs, open space and natural beauty.

As it happened on almost every visit to Pangot, there was an expert birding guide in the lodge, and he was relatively free. As soon as he saw my binocs hanging from my neck, he asked me if I was a birder. I replied with a ‘uh uh… kind of…’ answer, and told him that I was a very keen learner.

Ganesh was from Nepal but shifted base to India about seven years back and has since been working with Mohit Agarwal, who runs the lodge and several other nature-laden properties across India.

I sat in the porch of the main wooden kitchen cum dining cum meeting cottage, and started to spot birds. Ganesh was busy for some time, so I walked a little downhill and sat on a quaint little bench amidst trees and shrubs and low bushes. As I looked around, I saw a beautiful green bird with orange around the edges of its wings (Orange Flanked Bush Robin). I got clicking, getting some awful pictures, what with auto focus, that usually focuses on the background, lighting problems that doesn’t let any photo be taken unless it is bright sunlight and the many other problems of trying to take a picture of a bird that keeps moving and flying off, with a regular digital camera.

Verditer Flycatcher

All of a sudden I saw several other varieties of birds, and my heart started to

Mar 4, 2010


Yep, you read it right... footgolf. As I allowed my imagination to swerve wildly (most probably on the path of a bana kick), while trying to concentrate on my work at hand, I came upon a vision of Ronaldinho teeing off with a football (with his foot of course!).

Then I saw him being cheered by the onlookers as they saw the ball curve over the footgolf course, and land a few feet away from the first hole. Ronaldinho would give a short salute and walk off (without a caddy, as there are no foot golf sticks, just your own legs). The onlookers would, unlike the uppity golf crowd, be drinking beer, showing skin, cheering madly and doing Mexican waves.

Next we would have a veteran like Zinedine Zidane teeing off, with a precisely powered kick that would send the ball even closer than Ronaldinho’s. This would draw loud cheering from the crowd and Zidane would just smile and walk away.

The television audiences would be watching with bated breath as at the seventh hole, Ronaldinho is on a flamingo (footgolf lingo meaning three below par). He finally manages with two kicks what others do in five.

Footgolf can have all the biggest football stars as readymade superstar players, and could be a game of incredible skill and excitement. While they would go on playing their soccer games, footgolf would become an added on sport where they can win huge money and become mega champions.

Footgolf sounds like a very interesting idea to me. Any takers?