Interview with Nikhil Devasar on Big Bird Day 2011
Tomorrow is the Big Bird Day! A day when different groups of people will come together to look for our feathered friends and count the different types of birds they can see. A day when everyone is invited to join in and experience the avian diversity with whom we share this planet. Jincy Joy of Delhi Greens interviews Nikhil Devasar, the lead organiser of the Big Bird Day (BBD) event, to get insights into the organisation of BBD 2011.
Delhi Greens: What motivated you to initiate the concept of Big Bird Day?
Nikhil Devasar: The basic motivation behind this idea was to have a particular day in the year where all bird lovers could come together and explore their love for birds on a common platform. Also this event would serve as a great motivation to bird lovers, by people participation thus initiating new members into the group.
Delhi Greens: Why the name Big Bird Day?
Nikhil Devasar: On the question why it’s the BIG BIRD DAY, see basically we had this tradition of walking everyday for bird watching. Slowly the number of people joining in increased in number thus it became a BIG group of bird lovers walking for their passion so this is how it gets the name Big Bird Day.
Delhi Greens: What interests you most in conducting such an event on a personal front?
Nikhil Devasar: On a personal front, I feel this day serves as a good medium for lot of interaction among bird lovers thus helps one rejuvenate and be proud of the passion he/she follows. Since some of the birds are reaching their extinction/ no more visiting our cities, such an event helps spread the message of ‘Conserving Birds’ and thus inculcates awareness on such a critical issue among all age groups. Most importantly, taking a step like this will surely contribute to our environment in a positive way.
Delhi Greens: What are the locations being targeted this year, for the bird count tally?
Nikhil Devasar: There are several locations. Dehradun, the CM Delhi is flagging off a school children team from her residence, Bhindawas, Dadri, Basai, JNU, Sultanpur, Jaipur, Palwal Wetlands, Chandigarh, Surajpur wetlands, Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve, Northern Ridge, Okhla Bird Park, Yamuna Biodiversity Park, Najafgarh, Asola, Manipal, Bamako, Chambal, Kolkata, Jalpaiguri, Siri Fort Park.
Delhi Greens: Do the number of birds vary each year; if yes is the variation large?
Nikhil Devasar: Of course there has been a noticeable change in the number of birds in the city mainly due to two reasons. Firstly, the way rapid urbanisation has emerged, construction of apartments and cutting down of trees has left no natural habitat for them to live in. And secondly, global warming has led to the drastic decline in the overall bird number. Our bird count data of previous years shows it all. While in 2010 we counted 224 bird species, the number was 227 in 2009 and 203 in the year 2008. At the same time, 236 species were counted in total in the year 2004.
Delhi Greens: How many times have you been part of this day? Since when is the BBD being organised?
Nikhil Devasar: We have been organising this day since the past 7-8 years. It just came about and there is no starting year as such.
Delhi Greens: Please share your past experience of the BBD?
Nikhil Devasar: I would just say the experience has been fantastic and it’s just becoming better and more fascinating each year. Our team is just getting bigger with bird lovers of all age groups, local people and school children. All this keeps me motivated and I feel that the future of our bird is of great concern to many in the city.
Delhi Greens: What is your favourite bird? Any special reasons?
Nikhil Devasar: Waders. There is no special reasons for liking them.
Delhi Greens: Does Delhi have lot of bird lovers? How has the response from people’s side been?
Nikhil Devasar: Plenty, plenty of bird lovers in the city, the count of people attending it every year proves it.
We promote the event before a month of the commencement of the event. The response is fantastic as participation is shown before as well as on the day of the event. With more than thousand people participating last year it proves it all.
Delhi Greens: What are the changes that you have made this year to make this event a different one altogether?
Nikhil Devasar: Yes, instead of chasing vagrants and driving to the sites, this year we plan to reduce the carbon footprint and derive satisfaction from finding birds within certain enforced parameters.
Delhi Greens: We saw a lot many beautiful bird images that you have clicked? Are there any other animals that fascinate you?
Nikhil Devasar: Thank you, all my photographs are that beautiful only because of the passion for which I’m working for. Other than birds, tigers fascinate me; I get involved in lot many workshops for tiger conservation as well.
Delhi Greens: What message would you like to give out to the people of Delhi?
Nikhil Devasar: Come out everyone, Join us. Lets bird watch.