Birdwatchers atwitter: When BirdRace coincides with World Sparrow Day

  • Harjeet Inder Singh Sahi, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Mar 21, 2016 15:58 IST
Birdwatchers enjoying their time outside. (HT Photo)

A group of humans are on the prowl. But only to observe birds in their natural habitat and capture those picture-perfect moments. Did you know it was World Sparrow Day on March 20? If you did not, now you do. Hindustan Times spoke to avid bird lovers who roamed the tricity and its periphery watching lovable members of the winged species.

Unlike the dove in the world of Aesop’s Fables who receives help from the ant and is saved from the hunter’s arrow, birds in our world are hardly getting any help while their breeding grounds and habitats shrink rapidly.

Chappar Chiri in SAS Nagar, better known for Baba Banda Singh Bahadur’s victory memorial is also home to various species of birds who continue to co-exist in the shrinking wetlands of the area surrounded by a concrete jungle on the rise.

A swamphen in all its glory. (HT Photo)

The chirping and twittering never ends, one sound followed by a different one. Many would say there’s sweetness in the chaotic exchange. “The silverbill makes a multi-storied nest which becomes home to several couples,” says Mitinder Sekhon, president of Chandigarh Bird Club.

It seems that vertical architecture is not confined to humans alone! The snipe makes a quick dive, sniping at its prey with its long slender bill. Weaving is no ordinary job. Male streaked and black-breasted weavers laboriously weave nests to attract potential mates, who only prefer high-quality work.

A pond in Bakarpur, near the upcoming Aerocity in SAS Nagar, is another birders’ paradise. Red is the colour of love? Birds have so many colours that one is bound to fall in love with bird watching. Ruddy shelduck, also known as surkhab, wades without a care, displaying its bright, colourful plumage. It is a migratory bird, which travels all the way from Central Asia and Ladakh. With a long bill and even longer legs, the egret (bagula) makes a lightning-fast dive to catch hold of fish.

It is a wonder how many of these migratory birds travel thousands of kilometres to find their oasis. “Migratory birds take longer to come, as they search for sweet spots on their way, while they go back to their original homes rather quickly,” says club secretary Rima Dhillon.

The beautiful loner

A large pond at Mote Majra village in SAS Nagar is host to a lone flamingo. “Actually it has no business being here. It is here for the past four years. Perhaps a flock of flamingos came in from East Africa. But this loner never left,” says Sekhon.

Suddenly, a large flock of bar-headed geese passes above us, descends and settles down at the farthest end of the pond. Mitinder takes out his spotting scope. The whole party telescopes the flock as they wade in a single file. No army can beat them!

“The flock of bar-headed geese made my day. People with heart-related or other stress-related diseases should indulge in birdwatching to sooth their nerves,” he says.

A short while later, two fishermen take their boat out for the day, armed with their equipment.

“Mote Majra once hosted many more species and a much larger number of birds. Sadly, they are disappearing due to fishing,” he says.

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