The 14 hours of hard work of Navi Mumbai-based bird watchers The Coursers paid off when they won the seventh annual HSBC Mumbai Bird Race on Sunday.
They spotted 156 different species of birds over a span of 14 hours. They were 72 teams comprising 350 people that participated in the race. “We started our journey before dawn traversing areas such as Kalva, Uran, Phansad, Sewri and the Palm Beach Road,” said Mayuresh Khatavkar, 31, the team leader. The Step Eagles came a close second for spotting 155 species.
“We spotted the sun bird barely minutes before the closing time at the Maharashtra Nature Park and that is what put us in the top spot,” he added.
At the end of the day, the white crump vulture spotted by the bird watcher group Haliators was declared as the Bird of the Day by the panel of judges. While only one group won the race, the others juts enjoyed participating.
“Watching and identifying wader birds by their beaks and colours in Sewri initially attracted me to it,” said Sameer Ashar, 23, an aspiring chartered account. The bird race saw name-dropping of a different sort with participants gleefully whispering bird names to each other as they spotted purple sunbirds, the brown cheeked fulvetta through its five-whistle call, the chestnut-shouldered petronia, better known as the sali mali sparrow after the birdman of India, Salim Ali.
Kiran Marthak, 59, said “You rarely see a sparrow nowadays, but here you can even spot the blue-eyed paradise flycatcher.” Prachi Raul, 20, said, “Replacing honking of cars by cuk-ro-koo of birds is wonderful.”