Bird song on tape

 
By Nitin Sethi
Published: Monday 30 November -0001

-- CALL OF INDIAN BIRDS . Volume 1 and 2 . Brought out by the Nature Club Surat . 2002

If the first question that popped into your head after reading the headline was: "Why would anyone record a cassette of auditory renditions of Indian birds?" and if the second question was: "Who would buy one?" you shouldn't bother buying them yourself. But if you are part of the increasing club of avid amateur birdwatchers who get up at twilight time, go kilometres, to catch a fleeting glimpse of the avian species, stop right here, this is your pick. The fare - analogue recordings of 117 bird species over two cassettes - is produced by the Nature Club Surat. From the dry sprocket wheel cranking sound of the tree pie to the metallic low frequency rendition of the night jar, for the interested it is a worthwhile buy. But whether you belong to the growing tribe of avian worshippers or not read further about how these cassettes came into being. It is tale worth recording by itself.

Snehal Patel, who runs the nature club from his home in Surat, asked Mukesh Bhatt, his acquaintance for years, to record the bird calls and compile a cassette. Only, Mukesh is not a professional 'wildlifer'. He runs a typing tutorial shop in Surat. Not the typical ornithologist you would expect to be walking the wilderness. But knowing that Mukesh spends as much time bird watching as he does managing his business, Snehal asked him to record the calls. Then came up the problem of equipment. One doesn't go about with an ordinary Sony walkman to record bird sounds. Equipment is costly and available with difficulty. So Snehal, who is a trained engineer and runs a foundry, improvised. He used locally available aluminium plates to make specialised microphones. Using this Mukesh made the recordings for the first volume.

Moved by their enthusiasm and ingenuity, some past members of the club, now resident abroad, donated professional birdcall recording equipment costing more than US $1,000. This they then used to record and produce the second volume. Rarely do you find such enthusiasm brimming over into such a professional job.

The club has sold more than 400 copies of the recordings so far. Their plan to come out with a third volume has hit a roadblock due to lack of funds. If you want to help keep the enthused in working mode, you can purchase the two cassettes or donate. For more details get in touch with the group:

Snehal Patel, Nature Club Surat, 81 Sarjan Society,
Surat - 395007 ph: 0261-3227596
email: snehalpatel81@rediffmail.com

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