Dr. Arpit Bansal – A Cancer Surgeon having seen ~900 Bird Species

Who is Dr. Arpit Bansal, your academics and profession?

I am a Cancer and Advanced Laparoscopic surgeon, and work as Director of Multispecialty 200 bedded Hospital in Allahabad. I did my MBBS from Mumbai and MS from Nagpur in 2009. I am also a spiritual person by heart and a Kundalini Reiki Master and Advanced Yoga practitioner. In the COVID pandemic, I did a lot of free consultation for COVID-19 patients both online and offline.

When and how did you start bird watching?

I have been venturing into the wild since my childhood. I used to go to secluded places and admire nature. After marriage, my wife & birding partner Pooja and my friends Kuldeep and Tushar accompanied me. They introduced me to the world of bird watching. I started Birding in Nagpur and discovered around 15 new bird species in the area between 2010-2013 and we won the Nagpur HSBC Bird Race. It’s been over a decade since my journey of bird watching started.

Dr. Arpit has spotted 866 species of birds in India and 250+ species outside India

Why bird watching is more famous than any other type of wildlife watching?

Birds have a huge diversity they have huge number of colors and varieties. Best part is whenever you go out for it, you will definitely come back with something in your camera and definitely be happy about what you saw. If you go out to watch tigers, most of the times you will come back disappointed unlike birds. This is like nature’s blessing to present one or the other bird.

How many birds have you seen till now? Do you use any online platform like e-bird to record them?

In India only, I have seen and photographed 866 species of birds till date and still counting. I have also seen and clicked over 250 species outside India. I have been using e-bird as it is super easy and useful app. It automatically locates the birds in neighborhood area, so it becomes easier to identify them for beginners. I used to record all my sightings into an excel which has now been replaced by e-birds.

A rare bird Silver Breasted BroadBill, beautifully captured by Dr. Arpit in Dehing Patkai, Assam in April 2021.

How did you learn bird watching? Have you done any course on it?

I haven’t done a professional course for bird watching. I started it 11-12 years ago and learnt it by following Indian birds and posts related to them on Facebook. I also read the book “Birds of Indian Subcontinent” by Grimmett. These things helped me and today I can recognize over 1300 Birds of India. I haven’t learnt them by heart but as soon as I see a bird, I can recognize it in a motion, it comes naturally to me.

How did you learn photographing birds?

In my honest opinion, photography is full of trial and error. It is about perspective. I don’t feel there is a proper course for it. Having said that, there are some tricks and tips which you have to learn through experience. As I said earlier, going out in the wild and keep capturing is essential along with the patience.

The beauty of Bird Watching is, whenever you go out for birding you definitely come back with something

Which is one particular bird that you are fascinated about the most?

It’s difficult to answer and I don’t want to be biased, but I really like Oriental dwarf kingfisher. It is seen in one of the biodiversity hotspots of India, the splendid Western Ghats. Along with this, I am in love with Himalayan birds. They are adorably colorful. Oh! I just realized I am more attracted to the colors of birds! A bird called Blyth’s tragopan, is my favorite too! Photographing this with the white snow background is the best shot any wildlife photographer could ever imagine.

Adorably colorful Oriental dwarf kingfisher (left) and Blyth’s tragopan (right)

Any wish list of birds?

My dream and passion in life is to photograph each and every bird on mother earth. All of 1400+ species found in India are my target. Along with the birds of India, I wish to explore birds across the globe which are over 10,000 species. Watching all of them in their natural habitat and capturing their craziness through my camera is my dream!
Having said that, Owls possess a special place in my heart. There are 37 different owls in India, and I am proud to say that I have watched most of them out in the wild. Only 6 of them are left to capture in my camera.

In some cultures owl is considered be a messenger from the spirit world.
Eastern Grass Owl is one of the rarest Owls of India, clicked in Manipur in Feb 2020

Which part of bird watching/photography, as per you, is the most challenging?

According to me, the most crucial part of this is being patient. This is a wild world, nothing is staged. Of course, you can predict behavior but sometimes it can be different too! And this is its beauty. Having patience and sticking to your ethics are some important keys to the game!

Which books/field guides do you use?

Personally, I would recommend, “Birds of the Indian Subcontinent” by Carol Inskipp, Richard Grimmett and Tim Inskipp is the best field guide for now. There are quite a few apps for iPhone as well as Andriod. However, using the book and getting acquainted with the world of avifauna is the traditional yet best way of learning bird identification.

Having patience and sticking to your ethics can help in finding and clicking amazing Birds.
In photo are endangered Birds: Lesser Florican (left) & Green Munia (right)

Your advice for beginners?

First and foremost, if you are amazed by mother nature’s most beautiful creations – birds, then just go out in the field and start exploring now. The start is important and I guarantee you will be hooked on to it and then you’ll have a different perspective to going in about in the mountains in nature because all the nature’s beauties are enhanced just by adding these beautiful creations of birds, so just Start and I would be happy to help you all through it. You can connect with me on my Instagram @drarpitbansal

The most important thing to become a good birder is to Start, says Dr. Arpit.
Beautiful White Peacocks, clicked in Africa
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One thought on “Dr. Arpit Bansal – A Cancer Surgeon having seen ~900 Bird Species

  • June 6, 2021 at 7:44 am

    THIS is called living..! Not just having a life, but feeling alive..:)
    What a passion doc..! May the gods fulfill your dream of each and every species met and shared moments with..:)
    I am so so happy and seeing you thus..:)..a surgeon and a bird watcher..:) what a combination ❤️

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