These nature lovers in Mumbai have made bird watching a serious business

  • Badri Chatterjee, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Jul 27, 2015 16:00 IST

Ever wondered how many species of birds there are in and around Mumbai? A citizen science documentation group of seven may have answers to all your questions.

For six years now, these nature lovers have been documenting the rich biodiversity of green zones along Vasai to Virar. Kuldeep Choudhary, Amol Lopes, MV Bhakta, Franklyn Gonsalves, Leonard Rebello, Pradyavant Mane and Sachin Marti have identified 217 species of birds, 51 types of butterflies, seven different kinds of snakes.

The group has also spotted rare species such as Indian grey mongoose, jungle cats and the fan-throated lizards in seven different habitats.

“Our focus has been to identify the wide variety of avifauna (bird life) in areas such as beaches, wetlands, mangroves, paddy fields and small patches of forests that are mostly semi-urban. National parks are not the only place one can discover wildlife,” said Choudhary, a photojournalist.

Of the 217 bird species, the group identified 20 birds of prey, 92 aquatic birds mostly in wetlands and 105 birds in and around areas of human settlements.

Lopes, who is an engineer, said, “We go on nature trails on weekends, and cover a radius of three to four kilometers. Since people in the area know us, it is easier to traverse into territories.”

Rare birds such as the Amur falcon, Darter, Osprey, Imperial eagle, Pallid Harrier, Bar-tailed Godwit, Watercock, Peregrine Falcon to name a few, have all been spotted, said Choudhary. “What’s striking is these birds have only been spotted once,” he said.

Greater and lesser flamingos

After putting together their years of work, the group presented this as a part of a lecture organised by Sprouts Environment Trust at Mahim Nature Park on Saturday. “The best part about this citizen science documentation group is their discipline. They have been coming out with new findings every week,” said Anand Pendharkar, president, Sprouts.

The records of Oriental darter and Orange-breasted green pigeon have been listed as rare by Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) researchers. “The last record for Oriental darter was from Murbad; this is the closest this bird has ever been spotted near Mumbai,” said Choudhary.

Raju Kasambe, programme manager, BNHS, said, “The group has published an exhaustive checklist for birds, which is an important record for Mumbai and its surrounding areas.”

The group also plans to approach schools to involve students in nature trails.

Rare birds found

Arnala and Agashi
155 species spotted
Highlights: Yellow-footed green pigeon, Eurasian thick-knee, Oystercatcher, Bar-tailed godwit, Watercock, Peregrine falcon, Fan-throated lizard

93 species spotted
Highlights: Crab plover, Common buzzard, Black-capped kingfisher


137 species spotted
Highlights: Ashy woodswallow, plum-headed parakeet, osprey

Vasai Fort and surrounding area
130 species spotted
Highlights: Indian jackal, Jungle cat and Indian grey mongoose

Indian grey mongoose

Nalasopara station
93 species spotted
Highlights: Yellow-bittern and Baillon’s crake

Umela and Naigaon salt pans
74 species spotted
Highlights: Greater and lesser flamingos, Pied avocet, Ruddy shelduck, Black-headed ibis and Painted stork

52 species spotted
Highlights: Flycatchers, Nesting site for Oriental honey buzzard

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