Avid birders indulge in virtual walks, series and runs to catch the action!


It might be terribly cold for the humans, but for migratory birds, this time of the year in India is a favourite. Though restricted in their movement, due to the increased Covid cases in the Capital, bird watchers are not letting their spirits get dampened. Recently, there was news of a Black Eagle being spotted in Delhi, after a span of three years. Also, there were reports of two vultures, Anya and Arys, having migrated to India from the breeding grounds in Uzbekistan. In an endeavour to get a glimpse of these birds during this migration season, the birders in Delhi-NCR are busy arranging virtual sessions, online mini series and individual walks for those interested.

“We are starting our mini series as people are not comfortable to go out during this time. We are shooting at prime locations and then coming up with a mini series on identifying birds and understanding their surroundings,” says Abhishek Gulshan, founder of NINOX — Owl about Nature. A few birds that will be included in the series are the Bar-headed Goose and Gadwall, in the migratory birds category, as well as Knob-billed Duck and Black Francolin in the resident category. Gulshan adds, “These hour-long sessions will help identify birds and talk about their surroundings. We already have a lot of footage, and are also stepping out individually to shoot for the same. But yes, these will be subscription based sessions. As for the free content, we are presently in the process of upgrading our WordPress and blog, which will be our prime source of dissemination of such information.”

Some bird watchers are stepping out individually to collect video footage of migratory birds and share it with other birding enthusiasts, through virtual sessions.

Various social media platforms are another are also helping the bird watchers to ensure they receive all the important information. “People are sharing pictures, notes, their thoughts and ideas through our Facebook community groups. We have people posting pictures of birds from all over the country, and now there are close to 300-400 posts every day,” says Kanwar B Singh, founder, Indian Birds. He shares that contrary to the popular belief, though the outdoor movement is restricted due to the Covid situation, there is still much activity being recorded on social media. “People are digging through old notes and pictures and sharing these since they can’t go and really be out in the field. So the traffic has not decreased at all, and there is a lot of activity on various social media channels,” Singh adds.

In fact, Vasant Vihar-based bird watcher Anita Mani says she is still going out, but not in a group, to get a glimpse of the birds that are usually visible around this time only. “We went out for birding a few days back, and there was no risk as it was just my son and me. Individuals are heading out as no one is organising walks, due to the Omicron fear. As a hobby, I feel it’s quite safe, as long as you don’t pursue it in a group. But yes, since we cannot go out on weekends due to the curfew, we have to take out time in the middle of the day, on weekdays, to step out for this,” says Mani, whose society WhatsApp group is another place where she is getting to see various species of birds that are being spotted of late. “There is plenty of activity in all the WhatsApp groups I’m on. Many are birding in different parts of the country, and uploading pictures for identification purposes. We also have a Nature group in our colony where people post what they spot,” she adds.

Those bird watchers who are venturing out in smaller groups share how they are being careful to follow Covid compliant behaviour. “We generally used to do meet-ups every Sunday, and people would venture out in groups across Delhi-NCR. But we are not bringing people together right now because we need to act responsibly. Many enthusiasts do ask us which are the interesting birds and where they can see them, and actually turn up at those recommended spots. So we are ensuring that they get the right information,” adds Singh.

Author tweets @anjuri

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