Introduction to Birding

Birds have an elegance of their own. Birds have long been a source of inspiration for mankind. The sight of a bird flying off, away into the sky, or diving down right onto its prey is an amazing experience - worth preserving. "Birding" as it is popularly called, is a passion for many. It is an exciting experience to spot a bird about to take off - or touching the water in order to grab a fish. It is all the more exciting to catch a glimpse in the camera. No doubt it soon becomes an addiction beyond a passion.
Of course birding is no joke. One needs sharp reflexes - to spot the bird at the right point, aim the camera, focus rightly, shoot with the perfect settings - and get a good image. But it is not all that difficult either. After knowing the techniques, as one develops an insight into the habits and habitats of birds, one can actually spot some such images. As we go deeper in understanding the birds, one can be fascinated by the amount of research people have done on the subject - the classification of birds, their habitat, their food habits, mating seasons... People have taken the effort to understand and document these details.
One can spend years learning and understandin these details. Experts have written some very good books on this subject. If interested, you can check out one of these two highly recommended books on the subject:
Birding certainly requires effort, patience and practice. But the reward is worth all its effort.

Few Snaps

Below are some of my clicks with their details. Lot of them were clicked near water - that is abundant near my house.
Got it!  Ashy Prinia  Enjoying the Shore  The Rooster
Going Home?  The Glorious Flight
In fact many birds can be spotted right in the middle of a city. A crowded metro like Mumbai hosts so many kinds of birds.
Lost in Thoughts!  Live Wire!

Camera Settings

Each photograph is unique and deserves a fresh analysis for the layout and setup. But, in a typical scenario, one can note a couple of points while shooting birds:
Primarily, birds in motion need a very high shutter speed. Most often, when we shoot a bird, it also helps to have a very high aperture size. Typically we are not so very interested in the background / depth of field in such photographs. We just want to focus on the bird and get maximum details. We would love to keep the ISO as low as possible for any photograph. But again with birds, it may not be so easy.
Often, a bird flying in the sky means a bright background. That makes it difficult to adjust the exposure. One would love high exposure to get detailed features of the bird. But, that can lead to over exposed patches when the background is bright. There is no way to go in for twin exposures. As I mentioned, each shot needs an individual analysis and it has a unique solution. But, if one has these constrains in mind, it may be easier to spot a good location and shot.
Generally, I maintain the maximum possible exposure and ISO as high as my camera can decently take. With this, I keep the camera on aperture priority. I adjust the exposure continually to match the surroundings - hoping for a good shutter speed. Some others prefer to hold on to a high shutter speed. But I prefer the other way because a very high shutter speed may not always be required and that could lead to unnecessary sacrifice in quality. Of course, there are counter arguments and finally it is your personal choice.