Wednesday, October 27, 2021 | Rabi' al-awwal 20, 1443 H
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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

Aiming for winged beauties

Pradeep and his daughter Diya found an excellent way to ward off boredom and use time profitably during lockdown through nature photography. Discover how the duo made their interesting hobby scouting around wetlands and discovering rare birds with their camera


A father and daughter with a passion for nature pursued their photography hobby during the pandemic lockdown.


Muscat residents Pradeep Kumar V and Diya Pradeep spent enough time behind the camera to come out with some excellent photographs of migratory birds and ducks. The duo felt lockdown was a blessing in disguise as they got used to the new hobby.


Left with enough spare time during lockdown, Diya, a 9th grade student of ISM, used an entry-level camera and began clicking flowers and cats in their Mumtaz area neighbourhood.


Her father too joined her using a compact camera with zoom lens. Not quite happy with the photo quality, he decided to upgrade his equipment after some research on the Internet about cameras and lenses.


Pradeep went for Nikon D500 and a Sigma 60-600mm sports zoom lens while Diya got herself a beginner level Nikon camera and a Nikkor 500mm zoom lens.


They frequented Qurum Natural Park, wetlands near Bait al Reem in Al Khuwair, Al Seeb, Al Amerat and Yiti during the last season between September and March photographing around 120 species of birds.


With help from Common Birds in Oman by Jens Eriksen and Hanne Eriksen, they set out to marsh and wetlands in search of birds. The book greatly helped them identify the birds and also from a veteran birder in town.


Migratory ducks like Mallard, Eurasian Teal, Northern Pintail and Northern Shoveler are snapped from the marshy lands or small water bodies like Qurayat, Al Seeb and Al Athaiba. They also went further to Barka, Musannah, Qurayat and Suhar in search of birds.


So far the duo have been able to photograph Lichestein’s Sandgrouse, European Bee-eater, Sand Partridge, Rufous Tailed Scrub Robin, Common Kestrel and Sooty Falcon.


Says an enthusiastic Diya, “I spent hours trying to get close to get some good shots of ducks but the slightest movement could rankle them as they take to their wings. To my surprise, Red-wattled lapwings which are found in large numbers spot us quickly and start flying in circles calling out other birds around. I found Sand Partridges also to be very tricky to photograph. I can wait for a long time for the bird to present itself in a good pose but having to wait endlessly for a bird to appear is something I cannot endure.”


Says Pradeep, “Photography is an excellent way to connect with nature. I think one will never be satisfied in photography and you always wish for better poses or sharper details and the quest continues.”


Diya spends a considerable amount of time after each trip identifying the birds and the marine fauna with the help of books or the Internet. The duo are also into macro-photography. “This is a very challenging but interesting hobby to pursue but we need to hone our skills. For photographing insects you need a good macro lens and infinite patience,” say both of them.


Diya also learnt swimming at the Kalbuh Beach training under Dr R K Sanghvi.


Snorkeling along the rocky coast of Kalbuh Beach and finding it fascinating, she says, “It was a wonderful experience snorkeling in the crystal clear waters watching the beautiful coral reefs full of marine life.”


However, their favourite spot is Bandar Al Khairan where they spotted up close numerous rays, small moray eels, banded snake eels and a pair of Porcupine Rays, Bluespotted Ribbontail Ray and Giant Moray.


Pradeep’s love for nature and birds is no secret as he hails from Sasthamcotta village in Kerala’s Kollam district known for its fresh water lake and nature. Pradeep (@vpk_75) and Diya (@diya_prakruthi) now eagerly await the winter for serious photography with plans to visit Salalah to shoot some rare migratory birds.


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