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Monday, Sep 23, 2019

Mumbai BirdRace: Sightings dwindle as habitats fall prey to concrete jungle

The final bird count for the day was 234 species; one less than last year’s 235 species

mumbai Updated: Feb 14, 2019 00:15 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
Black-naped  Oriole was the ‘bird of the day’ at Sunday’s event.
Black-naped Oriole was the ‘bird of the day’ at Sunday’s event. (Sureh AP)

Bird sightings across Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) have declined drastically, revealed the final list presented at the 15 edition of Mumbai BirdRace on Sunday. This decline has been attributed to the vanishing natural habitats such as grasslands, scrublands and wetlands.

Participants said bird habitats at Naigaon and Vasai on the Western line and Kopar, Bhopar and Palava (near Dombivli) on the Central line are disappearing at an alarming rate owing to the uncontrolled construction activities.

In the suburbs, freshwater wetlands at Turzon in Kandivli — where 102 species were recorded in the past — is being slowly reduced to a dumping ground. Other places such as Godzilla lake in Malad, Nilje in Dombivli, and small water bodies between Vikhroli and Thane creek and along Marve Road in Malwani have disappeared.

“The decline in bird habitat continues unabated across MMR, with numerous freshwater bodies either on the verge of disappearance or have being reduced to puddles and landfills,” said Sunjoy Monga, ornithologist and writer, who started the bird race in 2005.

The final bird count for the day was 234 species; one less than last year’s 235 species. The maximum bird species recorded during the annual event has been 283 species in 2006. However, a decline in the count has been observed since 2015.

Pravin Subramaniam, one of the organisers, said, “Several areas across MMR are under threat owing to rampant development activities. However, there is still time to save these green zones if we manage to strike a balance between conservation and construction.”

None of the participants from the 50 teams spotted vultures, quails, larks and junglefowl. In addition, only a handful of participants spotted wagtails and pipits. The most seen birds were waders (32 species) followed by warblers (14 species), drongos and thrushes.

“A drop in overall sightings was noticed,” said Monga.

The participants covered habitats across 6,000 sqkm in MMR —from Alibag in the south to Akshi and Datiwere in the north, Mumbai, Matheran, Tansa Wildlife Sanctuary and the Sahyadris. The day-long event witnessed participation from 378 people, including 40 children.

First Published: Feb 14, 2019 00:15 IST