Phantom Birds and Birdbooks | india | Hindustan Times
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Phantom Birds and Birdbooks

india Updated: Jan 10, 2010 22:49 IST
Bharti Chaturvedi
Bharti Chaturvedi
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Although birding is not part of most people’s lives as yet, there are still Indians who regularly turn to a field guide to identify a bird they’ve seen. In 2005, a new book hit the American and European stands — Birds of South Asia: The Ripley Guide by Pamela C. Rasmussen and John C. Anderton.

The book is path breaking for many reasons. It includes Afghanistan for the first time. It recasts aspects of ornithological history and includes migration maps.

Rasmussen’s quest for an updated book turned into a real life thriller. As Rasmussen examined collections, she uncovered a fraud. It seems the famous Meinertzhagen collection of a British Colonel, comprised several stolen specimens. Sometimes, the birds missing from one collection would show up here, misleading labels. By figuring it out, Rasmussen was able to identify birds that were never found in locations they were supposedly seen in, such as some parts of North East India.

But that’s only one aspect of the book. The unhappy part is that you still can’t buy the book in India. How despairing is it, when one can’t access knowledge about India right here?

Tiles for a better city
Sometimes, people look up the capital, Delhi. But if they looked at the pavements around Lodi Road, they’d know a bad idea is being implemented.

Even a child who cares about the environment knows that rather than lay out stone blocks, tiles that allow for water percolation are better. Already, water tables have dropped due to deep boring. A green design will make some difference.