Members of Hyderabad Birding Pals capture 116 species of birds through their lens
Hyderabad: India is home to over 1,200 species of birds and a refuge for birds from all over the world. While many of us only encounter sparrows and crows in our day-today lives, bird watching and bird photography has gained immense popularity over the years.
Capturing the birds that live in the country, The Big Bird Day — an annual national-level celebration of watching and documenting birds — was organised at various places in the city by the Hyderabad Birding Pals (HBP).
Keeping in mind the ongoing pandemic, the organisers had instructed that only three bird photographers should participate this year in the event, from each city. Srinivas Mulagala, Rajeev Khandelwal and Fawaz Syed, who represaented Hyderabad, covered the Manjira Wildlife Sanctuary, Pragathi Nagar, and Ameenpur Lake areas in the city. Although lesser in number when compared to previous years, the photographers have managed to capture 116 species of birds through their camera.
Rajeev, who is an avid bird photographer and has been a part of the Hyderabad Birding Pals (HBP), explains the Covid precautions the team followed, “The Big Bird Day generally takes place in January each year. But, this year due to the pandemic it was delayed. On every Big Bird Day, several volunteer bird watchers cover the birding spots from early morning to evening and photograph the birds. This year it was just the three of us, and we also maintained a six-feet distance among us.”
The organisers had also cautioned the participants against the bird flu outbreak. “We were asked to stay away from the birds’ nests and also keep a look out for any dead birds. Fortunately, we didn’t come across any such cases.”
Interestingly, this year too there were many interesting species of birds such as Purple Heron, Red Avadavat and Yellow Billed Babbler. A few migratory bird species such as the Bluethroat, Red-crested pochard and Rosy Starlings, who were spotted in huge flocks, were the star attraction of the event. The photographers also sighted several species of ducks.
Fawad, a 25-year-old birder from the city who participated in the event for the second time, said that the experience was surreal. “I started bird photography quite recently, and to be able to capture the bird in their natural habitat is very exciting. In fact, it was the first time I ever spotted the Bluethroat and Rosy Starlings. I learnt a lot too, especially how to patiently wait for the bird.”
While the team was able to spot some beautiful birds, a senior bird photographer from the city Srinivas Mulagala, is worried about the declining ecosystem. “I have been participating in the Big Bird Day for years, and each year I see that the ecosystem has been encroached further. This year too, there are several buildings near the lake due to which we didn’t see many raptors that live on trees. The water bodies are also declining. The usual spot where we clicked pictures was empty today. Thankfully, due to the heavy rains last year, we had a few new spots where the birds were living.”
The Big Bird Day was initially started by the DelhiBird group (created by Nikhil Devasar and Bikram Grewal) as an informal event held in February or March. The first Big Bird Day was held on February 22, 2004, when 236 species of birds were recorded across Delhi. Today participants from almost every major city in the country participate in the competition.
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