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Children answer bird call

The collective “Ooohs” that a bunch of excited children let out at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park on Sunday morning could have easily been mistaken for a birdcall.

mumbai Updated: Feb 22, 2010 01:08 IST
Raghav Rao

The collective “Ooohs” that a bunch of excited children let out at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park on Sunday morning could have easily been mistaken for a birdcall.

Craning their necks to follow the flight path of the Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, the 46 junior participants of HSBC Mumbai Bird Race quickly hushed up to avoid scaring away the dark blue bird.

Whipping out their binoculars, they listened intently as their guide, Anand Pendharkar, explained that sighting this variety of the Drongo is a quite a rarity. The children quickly noted the sighting in their logbooks and marched ahead.

Trudging down the forest path dotted with dappled sunlight, at every few metres someone would excitedly point to a different bird. Soon the thin logbook with names of 300 birds found in Mumbai was filled with tick marks.

They spotted the Shikara, Pond Herron, Crimson Sunbird and heard the calls of the Rusty-cheeked Fullvetta, who’s whistle sounded like a child saying, ‘Papa give me chocolate’, and the Drongo, which imitated the calls of other birds to keep them away from its territory.

“I’ve always liked birds. Each one is beautiful in so many ways and there’s so much more about them that I can discover,” said Misaal Thakker (9). The outing had the student of Cambridge School, Kandivli, so excited that now he wants to be an “ornithologist”.

“You don’t have to come win a race to enjoy bird watching. Even if you get to clearly observe a few new birds and learn something from it, you’ve made good use of your time,” said Pendharkar, director of SPROUTS an NGO working on creating awareness on green issues.

“Children are our future generation. We’ve brought them here to expose them to the beauty of nature and leave it to them to decide whether they want to preserve it or not,” said Korani (34), principal of Kids Domain Learning Centre.

Mother Nature didn’t disappoint, providing them with sightings of monkey feasting on a wild flower and the elusive Rufous Woodpecker.

“This was my first time in a national park and I was very excited to come here,” gushed Aarunya Paliwal (9), a student of Billabong High. Aarunya, like many others in the group, prefers to observe birds in their natural habitat rather than in a captive environment like a zoo.