Meet Satyajit Shinde. A nature lover, birder, amateur wildlife photographer and a Powaikar at heart. Satya lives in Powai with his Mother, wife and two beautiful children. His beautiful pictures of Nature and his love for Powai had us connect with him for some chat.
When asked how he is so good at photography and what draws him to it he told us that photography especially nature and wildlife always intrigued him but interest but he did'nt have any equipment to capture things right, He fulfilled his passion for Bird photography with his mobile phone camera until one of his friends Gautam lent him his imported DSLR and a zoom lens that helped him get closer to wildlife, especially birds.
Here is a detailed account of our conversation for all to know Powai through Powai's Nature lover, a little better.
What draws you to wildlife photography?
It all started as a let out to the hectic work schedule. I was looking for some outdoor activity other than my fortnightly treks and cricket matches I used to enjoy during my college days. One of my friends invited to a birding trail to Mumbra Hills on outskirts of Mumbai and birding instantly struck a chord with me. It had everything I was looking for: break from the monotonous work schedule and also my ever-present interest for outdoors. It is equivalent to meditation for me. I soon got a pair of binoculars to observe the birds.
Gautam lending his camera for more than 6 months helped me to concentrate on bird photography. Post that looking at my interest another friend, Sonal, lent her Superzoom point&shoot to me. After which I got my own equipment from my savings and since then there is no looking back.
Why did you choose powai over other suburbs in Mumbai?
Infact Powai chose me. My father used to work at IIT and I was born on the campus ( a born IITian 😉 ). Probably one of the most beautiful natural landscapes in Mumbai.
You have been in Powai for so long, what changes you have seen Powai go through all these years in terms of its flora and fauna?
Yes, I have spent my entire life staying here in Powai. It was full of Mango orchards, Toddy plants, a huge hill and grasslands. One cannot imagine the extent of distruction of habitat it has seen over the last 20 years. We use to Trek/hike the hill almost every fortnight as a group of kids, the hill that was cut down to make way for the newer half of the Powai you see today.
The destruction, silting of Powai lake is also the result of unplanned/unchecked growth of construction activities over the last 25 years. We had a clear view of the lake from where the present Hiranandani hospital is standing. People were afraid to travel alone due to the dense foliage of Mango orchards. There were natural streams which used to supply fresh water to the lake, which has all disappeared now.
As kids, any place from present Aiyappa temple to Ganesh Nagar was a playground. I had such an amazing childhood living amidst nature in the most beautiful of Mumbai suburbs, I am afraid, my kids can't even imagine their Powai that way.
Grasslands in and around Mumbai have all gone.
What are your views on the hycinth that has encroached almost whole of the Powai lake?
There is a presence of heavy metals in the lake due to unchecked sewage flow from the rampant growth of residents in Powai and resultant construction which never took care of the natural streams to the lake. It is in the last few years that the sewer lines are being constructed, else all the sewage was flown into once potent water source of the city. The growth of hyacinth is a clear indication of very heavy metal presence in the lake water. Some measures of cleaning the lake have been happening over the years but there are no results. Around 15 years back there was mass death of fish in the lake.
At Powai lake, we used to see huge flocks of Painted Storks, open billed storks and other water birds. Now you can hardly see Grey-headed Swamphens, Jacana's, Whistling ducks, Spot-billed ducks. Jacana's and Swamphens are species which eat bugs and maggots that grow on water weeds, which is a clear indication of this water body going from bad to worse!
Today the bird species we see in and around Powai can be associated as urban birds. The high number of Crows, Feral Rock Pigeons, Black Kites, Barn Owls are all feeding either on urban waste or on the rodents and bandicoots which are results of urban waste.
This is all that I have observed over the years, but I am no expert on these issues.