Vijay Chelsea combines his photography skills with a passion for birdlife
When it comes to the Indian community and our links to all things Australian in this great country, we sometimes forget indigenous flora and fauna. The native flora and fauna make Australia unique from the rest of the world.
Focusing on bird life alone, there are 814 species of birds in Australia and many are under threat. Coastal areas are impacted by urbanisation and have now resulted in a vastly different ecology. Some of the bird species that are endangered include the orange bellied parrot, southern emu wren and Carnaby’s black cockatoo. The habitat destruction, feral animal and plant invasion all have knock on effects. Many small bird species are struggling, like the superb fairy wren, striated pardalote, red brad finch, white brad finch and scrub wren. Adding to these problems for native species, is climate change.
A report by WWF Australia says, “The early signs are that climate change is likely to make all of the existing threats to species worse.”
Vijay Chelsea of Perth is an avid bird watcher who has decided to do something rather than stand by. Combining his love of photography with a passion for wildlife conservation, he has produced amazing wildlife calendars for the last couple of years. The proceeds from the calendar sales are donated to Bird Life Australia and other wild life conservation organisations in Australia and India.
“Conservation is the responsibility of every human being to give back to nature,” Vijay tells Indian Link.
Habitat destruction, he adds, is essentially taking away someone’s home, and creates “a huge imbalance” in the ecosystem.
Vijay’s passion for wildlife has taken him to remote parts of Western Australia.
“I’ve always wanted to see a wedge tailed eagle in the wild,” he recounts. “I followed all the tips, notes and spoke to other birdwatchers but always seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time”.
He finally saw his dream come true on a trip to Bluff Knoll in 2013. After climbing 3600 ft, with equipment in tow, he saw a female wedge tailed eagle soaring above the mountain top. Vijay believes that the best tip for budding bird watchers is to “Respect, give space and observe”. Learning about habitat is essential to explore and have fun at the same time.
What can you do to help? To start with, if you have a backyard, you can get an attractive bird bath. Even a simple terracotta dish with water will do. Place it in dappled shade and refill regularly. Pick a spot for it near shrubs and trees so birds can escape easily if needed. In heat wave conditions, all too common in Australia, a small bird bath with water can make a big difference to our feathered friends.
The second aspect, is create a habitat attractive to native birds. Plant local native plants based on the soil and conditions of your suburb. A layered garden with some shrubs, small trees and grasses with thick grouping is an ideal habitat; birds like silver eyes, diamond firetails, red brad finches can hide in this undergrowth.
The “Birds in Backyards” website at (birdsinbackyards.net) is a great resource for more information.
You can join and contribute to groups like Bird Life Australia like Vijay. Encourage your children to join in local conservation activities like tree planting. There are a number of groups in Perth for children to join, learn about the environment and take part in conservation activities. One such group is the Canning River Eco Education Centre or CREEC. Children aged 6 – 14 years can join CREEC’s Cockatoo Kids Club for a nominal membership fee and are then eligible for a range of fun, interactive learning activities through the year.