2021. The year of finding
normalcy in chaos. Chaos brought about by the uncertainty of the virus, of what
tomorrow would look like and what is to come. With new processes being set and
routines changing overnight, (some of which happened for the better and some
which I’d be more than happy to see not be a part of tomorrow) the one thing
that remained constant like a silent
support system was nature.
Every morning for the last
13 years or so I’ve woken up to the sound of parrots and sparrows chirping
outside my bedroom window but never, not even once have I ever wondered about the other bird species. This year, I was presented with an opportunity to
participate in the Mumbai Bird Race
dawn to dusk bird-watching event where participants (ranging from college
students to teachers to people who are passionate about birding, or first-timers like me) try and record
as many species of birds as possible in and around the metropolitan region.
Each team documents their sightings in a logbook, where they record field
observations and submit detailed checklists. Data collected is analyzed by
experts to track bird movement and habitat distribution. Teams have the freedom
to choose any area they’d like to cover. It’s no “race” as such; but being part
of the event is an excitement in itself.
Usually, groups pick places which are
far away from their neighborhood; but this time around, thanks to limited
travel mobility, we ended up exploring places closer to home. Our group (the
college where I graduated from) singled out 3 locations for our sightings. Birds
that our other team members and us spotted were the Asian Paradise Flycatcher,
Tickell's Blue Flycatcher, Shikra, Black Tailed Godwit, Chestnut Tailed Starling,
Jacana, Green Bee Eater, Magpie Robin, Rosy Starling and Purple Rumped Sunbird,
not to forget my favourite bird – the Kingfisher as well.
ASIAN PARADISE FLYCATCHER
TICKELL'S BLUE FLYCATCHER
Most of these birds were lifers for me
(a lifer is the first time you sight something). It’s strange how I’ve been
living in the same area for years, but the closest I’ve come to noticing and observing
any bird was an owl or a bat (that too because it’s usually staring at me right
in the face which is pretty hard to ignore). I secretly feel it has something
to do with the fact that half the time we walk with our heads down, engrossed
in our mobiles while the other half is spent rushing here and there.
The entire event lasted for not more than
5 hours, but in that time I learnt so much. Learnt what it is like to have a
life outside of work, outside of social media and my small social circle.
Here are pictures of the other birds we sighted:
CHESTNUT TAILED STARLING
GREEN BEE EATER
....AND MY FAVOURITE --- THE KINGFISHER
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