Counting your feathered friends

It is not just about winning the first prize. It is also about bonding with fellow birders and meeting the who’s who of the birding world.

This year’s Bird Race, organised by the India Bird Races, was held on 15th January. Sunjoy Monga headed this year’s race. Registrations were opened up in early January and 44 teams had registered in all. The race was sponsored, as always, by Hongkong and Shanghai Bank Corporation (HSBC).

This was a good number of participants, considering the fact that it was Sankranti day.

The rules, as always, were that people could form teams, and check off the various species of birds that they found in a 60 km radius around Bangalore. In this radius Nandi Hills is included, as it continues to be one of the birding hotspots around Bangalore. All teams had to also visit at least one water body and do a census of both the waterfowl, and conditions in and around the lake.

Another highlight of the Bird Race was the inclusion of Green Teams, which would use only public transportation to get around. This year there were seven Green Teams, all of whom made it with very respectable totals.

Bird watchers at the Bangalore Bird Race 2012 on January 15th. Pic: Deepa Mohan

All the teams met by about 6.30 pm at Hotel Paraag after long day of birding. The organisers had arranged for coffee and biscuits for the tired birders, and dinner after prize distribution.

The celebrity spotting

Having spotted as many birds as they could, participants now gathered to spot as many of the experienced birders of Bangalore as they could! It was a thrill for "L-birders", as beginners call themselves, a pun on the "L-board" one uses when learning to drive to meet the stalwarts of bird watching. Not only Sunjoy Monga and Dr S Subrahmanya, but also luminaries like S C Neginhal,  a retired officer of the Indian Forest Service (IFS) who has pioneered a census of the heritage trees of Bangalore and T N A Perumal, wildlife photographer extraordinaire, attended.

Dr Joseph George, who is one of the pioneers of bird-watching in our city, also attended. So for birders, it was like a star-studded firmament. The judges, too, were noted ornithologists and naturalists – S Karthikeyan, Chief Naturalist, Jungle Lodges and Resorts (JLR), Prashanth Badrinath of the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE) and Dr M B Krishna.

Participants also enjoyed meeting other birding enthusiasts and exchanging notes.

Puttenahalli Lake, which has been rescued and rejuvenated by the PNLI Trust, was one of the venues that yielded a lot of bird sightings, including those of migratory water fowl like Garganeys and Northern Shovellers.

Dr Subrahmanya, Sunjoy Monga and Neginhal all spoke, stressing different aspects of the event. Gopi Sunder, an authority on Sarus Cranes with the International Crane Foundation; Raghavendra Bhat, who had sighted the Lesser Florican in the Bangalore area after a gap of a hundred years in 2011, Usha Ramaiah, the Himalayan mountain-climber who has been active in educating children about nature and conservation through her NGO Kids For Tigers, were all felicitated.

The Prize winners

The prize for the Green Team went to Team Masked Booby (yes, that is really the name of a bird!), with a count of 106 species.

The bird of the day, the rarest sighting in the judges’ view, was the Western Reef Egret, which was a record sighting for the city. Team Whitethroat spotted this bird. Jayaram Jahgirdar, Balasubramanyam, Hemanth Kumar, Vinay Subramanya, and  Vinaya Kumar Thimmappa were part of this team. They also won the third prize for recording 140 species.

The second prize went to team Black Stork with Deepa Mohan, Anirudh Kannan, Kannan A S, Poornima Kannan, Saandip Nandagudi, and Yashpal Rathore, with 153 species. The first prize went to Team Flowerpecker with Vaibhav Choudhary, Apoorva Managoli, Chandrashekar M, Deepak T M, and Sanjeev Managoli for recording 155 species.

Twelve-year-old Apoorva Managoli says she enjoyed the day very much. "This was the first time I was allowed to bird non-stop for 12 hours!" she exclaimed, when organiser Swarna Venkat asked her how her day went.  An avid birder who has got her father hooked to the pastime too, Apoorva can identify about 300 species of birds. She is a good nature photographer as well.

Paavan, 11, was part of Team Flycatcher. He too spoke very well about bird-watching that he enjoyed, though apparently the team had to skip lunch.

The members of Team Kaanu Baruva (which means "Shikra" in the Soliga dialect) were all from ATREE, and they used cycles throughout. The participants of the Green Teams who used public transport did, however, say that they walked for miles and were very tired by the evening!

Swarna Venkat did an excellent job of compering the evening get-together, asking participants for their reactions and making sure that the gathering was interactive. One participant said that her bird-race closed with a crow depositing "waste material" on her head, and the gathering had a good laugh, saying that it was the bird’s blessing.


  1. Deepa Mohan says:

    It’s actually not at all about winning any prize 🙂 It’s a day of great fun..and good food!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Similar Story

Mumbai floods once again. Will BMC’s climate budget help?

Experts say that BMC's recently launched climate budget needs to be more focused on urban flooding to be able to protect vulnerable citizens.

On July 8th, rains lashed Mumbai, disrupting regular life and causing waterlogging and floods in low-lying areas and on important routes. Central Railway officials mention that almost 900 train services were cancelled leaving several commuters stranded, while many BEST buses were diverted. Since then several incidents of heavy rains and flooding have been reported in the city. Commuters, civic activists and residents have questioned the claims made by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) about being prepared for the monsoons.  “The half-constructed, newly-built DP road number 9 in Chandivali was waterlogged, which caused inconvenience to commuters,” said Mandeep Singh Makkar, founder…

Similar Story

Mumbaikars get a taste of Murbad’s forest food and tribal culture

It was a treat for city dwellers to learn about wild vegetables and other forest foods harvested by tribal communities of Murbad, near Mumbai.

Throughout the year, vegetable shops and markets are stocked with select vegetables and produce that form our diets. This produce is grown in large scale farms and sold across the country despite geographic and seasonal variations. But 23rd June was an aberration for some of us, who spent time at the Hirvya Devachi Yatra. We got in touch with forest foods that grow in the wild, people who harvest them and make delicacies out of these.  The Hirvya Devachi Yatra was organised this year by the Shramik Mukti Sanghatana, Van Niketan, Ashwamedh Pratisthan and INTACH Thane Chapter. It has been…