The ninth edition of the annual Mumbai Bird Race saw participants record uncommon species such as Sand Martin, Grass Warbler and Black Stork, that are also contenders for the title of ‘bird of the day’.
The event, with 325 participants in 63 teams, saw bird lovers and expert watchers fan out across the city and neighbouring areas such as Alibaug, Karnala, Virar and Murbad.
The HSBC Bird Race is held every winter and allows bird watchers the opportunity to form teams and record bird species found in and around Mumbai.
This year, the winning team —Imperial Eagle —comprised participants who were also joint-winners at last year’s race.
While the winning team sighted 180 species, the first runners-up —Black Bulbul-sighted 170 species and the second runners-up—Team Skimmer—sighted 167 species. The winning team spotted 11 more species than the previous year’s winning team.
“The north-eastern part of the city —Dombivli, Murbad and Kalyan area—acts as a passage for several migratory birds. Since it is also at the base of the ghats, it is rich in bird diversity,” said Sunjoy Monga, naturalist and organiser, Indian Bird Race.
Members from the winning team said that while recording species in Dombivli and Mhasa forest near Murbad, they tried to spot species endemic to the western ghats. “Malabar parkeet, Malabar grey hornbill and Nilgiri flower pecker were some of the uncommon sightings we came across,” said team captain, Prathamesh Desai.
“We recorded 180 species from Murbad, Mhasa forest, Dombivli and Airoli Creek and spotted migratory birds such as steppe eagle, greater spotted eagle and red-throated flycatcher,” added Desai.
The Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) saw a steady stream of bird watchers, as the Tulsi Lake trail is quite popular among the participants.
“Although I have participated in the race before, this is the first time I came to SGNP. The cool weather and pristine habitat made the visit enjoyable,” said 19-year-old Sumitra Badrinathan.