M3 Features

Bengal celebrates Bird Day

January 19, 2014

Here’s some good news for all the avid birders in Bengal. If you are passionate about bird-watching, get those chic cameras out of the closet – even the naked eye would suffice, though – to participate in the Bengal Bird Day on 19th January.

The daylong programme is similar to the annual pan-Indian Big Bird Day held last February, but the Bengal clone will have an edge because of its timing.

“We thought of having a Bengal-specific programme in mid-January because winter ends in our state by February and many migratory birds fly away to their summer homes,” said veteran birder Sumit Sen.

“The variety of birds found in winter is about 30 per cent more than what we get in summer. The programme will help us collect accurate data on birds found in Bengal,” said Sen, the founder of Bengalbirds, the group organising the event.

About 45 teams of about 160 participants have registered and applications are pouring in from across the state, including Darjeeling, Bakkhali and Fraserganj.

Sure-shot birding spots, such as the marshlands off the EM Bypass and the Chintamoni Kar Bird Sanctuary in Narendrapur, have drawn many entries.

Why should you participate?

The effort will help create a database of birds found in the state — crucial for monitoring species diversity and conservation programmes — and to understand climate and environment changes.

“What people know about the birds of Bengal is the result of enthusiasts going out on their own and recording various species, many of which are sighted only once. A single sighting is different from regular sightings. But then, follow-ups are rare because birding is a voluntary effort. An annual daylong search helps update existing data,” a seasoned birder said.

 “The data can help us understand our environment because birds flock to a place if its climate and habitat suit them,” said birder Shubhankar Patra.

A proud history

The Bengal leg of last year’s Big Bird Day had drawn 212 participants, the highest in the country. Bunched into 61 teams, they recorded 396 distinct species, of which 190 were found in the metropolitan area of Calcutta.

The city’s count was several notches up from the 137 species recorded during the second edition of the event in 2011.

The Bengal Bird Day organisers will select the “star bird” from the rarest sightings and the team’s name will be published on the website kolkatabirds.com. All participants will get a certificate too.

At the end of the day, the participants will have to email the organisers the name and number of species they found, including the location. A three-member team will compile the reports, prepare a final list and feed it to a database.

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