Episode 21: Wetland and Grassland Birds from the Man who Discovered a Frog: with Seshadri K.S.

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Dr. Seshadri KS grew up in Bangalore and started to watch birds at a young age. An avid naturalist with interests across many taxa, he has chosen to study natural history, ecology and conservation biology as a career. He was part of the team that described three new species of frogs from India and described a new behavior in frogs. Dr. Seshadri is currently a DST-INSPIRE Faculty Fellow at the Centre for Ecological Sciences, IISc Bangalore. In this episode, we talk about wetland and grassland ecology, and bird photography.

Full Bio

Over the last decade, Seshadri’s research has taken him to remote and often inhospitable environments where he has spent extensive periods of time. His research spans a swath of biology ranging from orchids in the tall forests of the Western Ghats to discovering new species and new behavior among Amphibians. He led a team to study amphibians in the forest canopy, for which he was honored with the “Future Conservationist” award by the Conservation Leadership Program in 2010. He has a doctoral degree from the National University of Singapore which bestowed him the prestigious (late) Prof. Navjot S. Sodhi Conservation Biology Scholarship in 2013. He has travelled extensively to some of the last remaining strongholds of biodiversity in the rapidly vanishing forests of Southeast Asia to find solutions to effectively conserve nature. He enjoys photographing natural landscapes and biodiversity and often teaches ecology, evolutionary biology and research methods to students and nature enthusiasts.

Episode Timeline

1:00 What does a terrestrial ecologist mean?

2:30 You are unusual in our guests in that your wingspan is wide and encompasses amphibians, snakes, mongooses, trees and many others. Place birds in the ecology that you operate in. Seshadri talks about Poornachandra Tejaswi

4:00 Seshadri’s paper parenting in frogs and the link to birds. Sexual dichromatism and cryptic colouration.

6:00 Caregiving and predation risk, particularly in frogs and birds.

7:30 Tell us about mistaking a frog for a bird. How did that happen? About C.R. Naik and mistaking a frog for a white-throated kingfisher.

11:00 Discovery of a new species of frog.

13:30: Birders use binoculars and walk a lot. Do frog people crouch in the jungle? Do they work at night? Seshadri talks about the differences in posture, practice, equipment between observing birds and frogs. Dangers like walking into elephants. Being near leopards.

18:00 Seshadri tells us about his work with wetland birds. At the Kalakkad Mundanthurai tiger reserve. Tamaraparani river.

25:00 Favourite birds and why? Tailorbird or Ashy wren-babbler. Whooshing sounds as the Great pied hornbill flies by.

27:00 Common birds in Bangalore. Darters, dabchicks, pygmy cotton teals.

30:00 What are some things about grassland birds that beginning birders may not know. Seeing the Lesser Florican in Bidar. Listen to our Great Indian Bustard episode here.

31:46 About kavals or regional grasslands. The concept of ecological succession.

34:30: The impact of photography on birds. Tips for photographers. Hesarghatta grasslands— spotting a European Roller. Chasing birds on cars. The MB Krishna episode is here. The Sy Montgomery episode is here.

40:00 Last words and advice.

44:00 Seshadri speaks in Kannada about his birding experiences.

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