11th Mumbai BirdRace: Over 150 species spotted in a day

mid-day joins team Bubo, one of the 69 teams at the event, to experience the adventure and grind BirdRace participants are subjected to while spotting the winged beauties

At the 11th edition of the Mumbai BirdRace yesterday, a part of the IndiaBirdRaces, a total of 69 teams (comprising around 350 participants) contested against each other to bag the top spot at the event.

A mid-day correspondent was part of team Bubo, which had Sachin Rane, Prabhu Swami and Vinayak Nagmal (pictured above) as the other members. The team spotted a total of 98 species, including the Ruddy-breasted crake. Pic/Khushnum Bhandari
A mid-day correspondent was part of team Bubo, which had Sachin Rane, Prabhu Swami and Vinayak Nagmal (pictured above) as the other members. The team spotted a total of 98 species, including the Ruddy-breasted crake. Pic/Khushnum Bhandari

Naturalist, writer and photographer Sunjoy Monga was a part of the annual event sponsored by the HSBC. The participants were allowed to explore areas up to 60 km from the city starting dawn to dusk, in any direction, and record the number of bird species they spotted or identified through calls.

Unlike previous editions, this year the organising team allocated specific birding itineraries to the teams. It comprised a suggested set of locations to make the most of the day’s travel and ensure that most known sites and all birding habitats were reasonably covered to obtain better data.

Firsthand experience
To experience the adventure and the grind participants go through, this mid-day correspondent decided to participate in the event and became part of the team that called itself ‘Bubo’.

The quartet started at 6 am from Aarey Milk Colony, where they noted 50 different species. Team leader Sachin Rane said, “We participated in the event because we not only get a chance to meet other birders but it also helps us in documenting species that we haven’t seen before.

We chose Aarey Colony as our starting point because this is one of the last surviving green lungs of Mumbai and is also the best place for birding activity due to several undisturbed patches of woodland.” This reporter accompanied Rane, Prabhu Swami and Vinayak Nagpal as they visited BKC, Sewree Creek, Bhandup pumping station and concluded their race at the IIT-B campus in Powai.

Major attraction
While more than four teams successfully noted down over 150 bird species, the highlight of the event was the 72-year-old cancer patient Vijaya Balan. The septuagenarian was accompanied by her daughter and grandson, and the trio spotted over 70 bird species by covering the mangrove patch along Palm Beach Road, Karnala bird sanctuary and Uran.

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