The Bangalore Bird Race…and birding

Like many other participants, I too would like to add my thanks to the people…..Madhukara, Srihari, Subbu,Swarna (that was in alphabetical order!) and all the others, starting from Sunjoy Monga and HSBC… to the judges who probably had an intense session….who’ve made the Bangalore Bird Race a very enjoyable event. We had a very tiring, but extremely delightful day…and I think perhaps it’s the motivation to spot that extra species which makes us look harder and see more birds. Certainly I peer into the reeds and weeds and foliage with greater concentration on Bird Race days!

Here’s Subbu speaking at the evening meet after the Race was over:

 

subbu speaking at the Bird Race 170110

However….I have to sound a note of caution here. As we spread the enjoyment of birding, we *have* to keep educating new birders about what they should NOT do, as much as what they should do.

To cite an example….our guide on a birding trip told us about the location of a bird that was a "lifer" for all of us (we were a group of 4.) But soon, word spread amongst the other birders and everyone gathered there…and the flashes began to go off, and that attracted a crowd of local onlookers, too. I left at that point, unable to do much. Yes, every birdwatcher had as much right as I had to look at the bird….but I felt certain that all those flashlights were disturbing the bird, as was the large crowd. There was even one suggestion of breaking down the barbed wire fence that (luckily) separated the crowd from the bird.

That’s why I sometimes feel that perhaps having large numbers of people interested in birding might, on occasion, be counterproductive. It’s the old question….does tourism help or mar the tourist spot? Beyond a certain point, it does spoil what it is supposed to develop and protect…unless safeguards are put in place.

So each of us has the duty to tell each person who takes up birdwatching about how not disturbing the bird or its nest and habitat, to the degree possible, is of primary importance. To use the phrase Kalyan talked to me about once, we need to be "ethical birders"….though I don’t believe it’s a question of moral right or wrong, but just a matter of not disturbing the bird. This is especially true with water birds, who take off at the very first sign of disturbance….in both Delhi and in Assam and Arunachal, I have repeatedly seen flocks of birds taking off, being often disturbed by intrusive and curious humans. Let’s temper our curiosity with the birds’ need …right..to be as little disturbed by US as possible..! There are enough other disturbances that Nature herself provides. 🙂

That was something that I liked yesterday. Over the day, for example, many of us went to Valley School. But we didn’t see the same birds as the team before us, and the team that we met going in didn’t see the birds we did! This means that we just saw what we could, and did not disturb the birds unduly.

I must also add, though, that the birding during the Bird Race is very different from what birding really is(to me, at least). On the Race Day, the birds seem to be divided into two species, the ATB and the YTBTB (Already Ticked Birds and Yet To Be Ticked Birds!) and we keep on the run to meet our return deadline, saying, "Oh, we’ve seen that, now let’s see what else there is"….whereas normally, one would wait and watch the bird and try to observe, rather than just sight. But I guess the real point of the Bird Race is that it gives an excellent census of the variety of bird species found in Bangalore, so this kind of birding has its value, too. It’s also great to meet the people who have worked so much for the birding community…as well as other people who share this interest. My circle of friends has increased because of my interest in birdwatching.

Vijay Mohan Raj’s speech, and that of Mr Imtiaz, nephew of Mr Hussain, came straight from the heart, and touched our hearts too. They brought out the true spirit of birding, and yes, we need to involve ourselves more, as a community, in voluntary efforts.

I also must say what a great idea the Bangalore Bird Race organizers have, to recognize and appreciate, each year, the efforts of people who are doing it entirely out of their commitment to the task. This, to me, is one of the nicest parts of the evening.

I am quite proud to belong to the birding community of Bangalore, and as I journey slowly from the LKG (Lower Kindergarten) level of knowledge towards UKG….thanks once again to the Bangalore Bird Race and all my fellow-birders, who have been so patient and helpful to me.

Here’s our team, the Black Storks, when our species count crossed 100!

chandu,sai, ashwin and anush when our species tally crossed 100 170110 valley school

Deepa Mohan
About Deepa Mohan 704 Articles
Deepa Mohan is a freelance writer and avid naturalist.

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