Mumbai BirdRace 2018: Drop in sightings across city
Birders recorded 236 species, marginally lower than the 239 counted in 2017.mumbai Updated: Feb 08, 2018 01:12 IST
The number of bird species has declined across most habitats in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), revealed data from the Mumbai BirdRace conducted on Sunday.
Birders recorded 236 species, marginally lower than the 239 counted in 2017. A total of 284 bird watchers, including 20 children, participated in the 14th edition of the event.
The bird count covered habitats scattered around 6,000 sqkm in the MMR and surrounding areas. The annual event, which started in 2005, had counted a maximum of 283 species in 2006. There has been a drop in the number of species recorded since then, with sightings declining to 215 in 2016.
“It is not a rosy picture across most landscapes across the region,” said Sunjoy Monga, ornithologist and naturalist writer, who conceptualised the bird race. “Noise pollution and developmental activities robbing away bird habitat continues,” he said.
A noticeable decline in sightings was recorded at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) - from 101 in 2008 to 52 in 2017, which further fell to 50 this year. Sightings along coastal wetlands saw a drop – from 95 in 2007 to 77 in 2011 – 73 in 2017 to 61 this year.
Other forest areas also saw a drop from 112 species in 2005, 91 in 2010, 70 in 2015 to 69 species this year. A marginal increase in sightings at freshwater wetlands was recorded this year with 50 species recorded as against 45 last year. Some of the uncommon bird species spotted this time included - Black Stork, Caspian Tern, Ultramarine Flycatcher, Grey-headed Canary-flycatcher, Vernal hanging parrot and Spotted Crake.
“There were absolutely no sightings of vultures, quail, Red Spurfowl, Black Redstart and peafowl, and extremely low sightings of larks, wagtails, woodpeckers, rails and crakes,” said Monga. “The lark family has completely disappeared from Greater Mumbai since 2014 and are on a decline across MMR,” said Monga.
Naturalists estimate 75% of open lands has been lost with sightings declining from 106 in 2008, 60 in 2017 to 54 species this year. Urban areas also saw a decline from last year’s 108 sightings to 91 species this year.