This is not the apt season to go birding; however, if you do happen to be strolling around Vasai you might want to download Vasai Birds, a new app developed by a group of wildlife enthusiasts to promote birding and the biodiversity of Vasai.

The app, we are told covers 250 common and rare species around Mumbai, most notably in the Vasai region. Naturally we took it out for a stroll. Here’s what we found.

What we like
We have to admit, Vasai Birds is a treasure trove of information. Once you have downloaded the app (it’s a a small download of 4.5MB size), you are taken to the home page which lists different categories of birds with a searchable map under it. You can check a list of aquatic birds, birds of prey, forest and grasslands birds and garden and urban birds. Each list comes populated with names and images of birds, selecting which takes you to a new page offering detailed information on the bird. You can find out its common and scientific name, size, habitat type, whether or not it’s a visiting or local migrant, a list of identification marks, as well as nest and food types. The app also gives the current International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) status of birds.

The Android app, however, is as much about birds as its of habitats in the area. Therefore, a second tab, Habitat, offers a list some of popular green habitats in Vasai along with a count of bird species spotted there. We also realised that there is more to the green belt than Suruchi beach and the areas surrounding Vasai Fort. One could visit the Umela and Naigaon salt pans, Dongri, Bhuigaon, Nirmal Lake, Gass and Krishna Township and Agashi and Arnala to catch more birds. In fact, the last destination is home to 150 bird species. A third section, gives details of the project and the people behind it.

What we don't
A good user interface (UI) is critical for the success of any app. But unfortunately, that’s something the app failed to achieve. When it comes to UI what we are offered is a mishmash of pictures and text that doesn’t impress. The makers of the app could have easily taken help from a professional to make the app look aesthetically pleasing to users. We are also disappointed to find birds being linked to Wikipedia pages instead of more scientific resources like Birdlife.org or IUCN.

We were happy to see a list of habitats in the region, but it doesn’t serve much purpose since the habitats are not linked to a map in the app. We all know how difficult it can get to access a place — especially birding spots — if you are not a local. Considering the goal is to create awareness, and there’s a technology to make it possible, it should have mapped them.

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