BIG Bird Day Celebrated in Delhi!

Sunday, 24th of February, 2008 was a day of great pride and happiness for birders across Delhi. In collaboration with the School of Environmental Studies, University of Delhi (SES, DU), WWF-India, and the Department of Environment, Govt. of NCT of Delhi, DelhiBird: the Northern India Bird Network celebrated the BIG BIRD DAY!

Armed with binoculars and cameras, several bird watching teams comprising a total of over five hundred birders started out early in the morning from different parts of Delhi, spotting and then ‘shooting’ down the bird diversity in the city. The idea was to record as many number of bird species from the city, as possible for the day. The locations that were covered included among others, the Yamuna Biodiversity Park (YBP), Aravalli Biodiversity Park (ABP), Tughlakabad, Yamuna bank, Delhi Zoo, Lodhi Gardens, Kamla Nehru Ridge, Bhalaswa Lake, University of Delhi’s North Campus, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Campus and even the neighbouring Okhla Bird Sanctuary, Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary, Dadri Wetlands, KG Wetlands, etc.

Throughout the day, people from all over the city kept phoning DelhiBird, some to enquire where they could join the teams while others to report unusual bird sightings. Still others called up to learn more about birding, to find out how they could join the regular Sunday bird watching walks, invite to a part of the city near their house where a large number of birds could be found and even to gain information about places where they could get their sick pet birds treated.

Delhi’s academia also took a lot of interest in the event. Dr. Surya Prakash of the School of Life Sciences, JNU led a mixed team comprising people of all age groups. His team covered the JNU campus, Aravalli Biodiversity Park and the Hauz Khas Lake.

Indian Grey HornbillThe University of Delhi was part of two teams for the event. The first, involving Mr. Faiyaz A. Khudsar, a wildlife biologist at YBP covered the entire biodiversity park while the other team, led by Professor Mihir Deb, Director, SES visited three sites, viz. the Kamla Nehru Ridge, (Delhi) University Campus and the Bhalaswa Lake. The team of 20 comprised students of SES, DU, Hindu College, some residents from around the campus and two French students. The team also made a short visit to YBP en route to Bhalaswa Lake.

(Left: An Indian Grey Hornbill spotted in the Parking of the Vishwavidyalaya Metro Station)

The team was excited to spot, what they thought was the Black headed bulbul in the Kamla Nehru Ridge, after getting tips from nearby residents who claimed to have spotted it themselves. However, the image clicked later revealed it to be a Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher, Culicicapa ceylonensis.

A team of school children was led by Lima Rosalind, Director, Environment Education at WWF-India. The activity developed interest in many young minds, most of whom joined the DelhiBird Yahoo group after reaching home!

The team that had the highest score was led by Abhijit Menon Sen who covered the Sultanpur area and notched up 140 species. This was followed closely by Anand Arya who almost single-handedly got 137 species.

The day concluded with a get together and a dinner and the final tally of the total number of birds seen in the day was calculated to be 202. “Not quite as good as the 236 birds in 2006 but substantially higher than the 188 of 2007”, Mr. Nikhil Devasar remarked.

The team that spotted the maximum bird was the one led by Mr. Abhijit Menon Sen who had covered the Sultanpur area and got around 140 species. “This was followed closely by Anand Arya who almost single-handedly got 137 species”, Mr. Devasar informed.

Print Media Coverage:

Indian Express   Hindustan Times   Times of India   The Hindu

      Indian Express            Hindustan Times          Times of India

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Dr. Govind Singh
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Dr. Govind Singh holds a Master's and Ph.D. in Environmental Studies from the University of Delhi and is the Co-Founder of Delhi Greens NGO.

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