Adventures of the Big Bird Day

Birds

A greater flamingo preened itself and a peregrine falcon had made an apperance. For birding enthusiasts, the warm Sunday morning expedition was already paying rich dividends. Over 200 people had gathered from different parts of Delhi to be part of the Big Bird Day. The Okhla Bird Sanctuary, the Sultanour Bird Sanctuary and the banks of the Yamuna were some of the places that had bird watchers, ready with their cameras and books, to document their sightings.

The team at Okhla, led by Atul Jain, a 47-year-old who works at a French IT company in the capital, comprised 35 to 40 bird enthusiasts from various walks of life -- army officials, IPS officers, IT professional and children with special abilities . Armed with binoculars, spotting scopes and birding books, the group had arrived at the venue at 6.30am. Says Jain, "We have the bird day every year in February or sometimes even twice a year in February and October. We were afraid that the weather might rain on our parade, but fortunately, we woke up to a glorious Sunday morning." They spotted around 80 to 85 different birds species including the colourful northern shoveler duck, the Eurasian Teal, the greylag goose, the magnificently large greater flamingo, the spotted owlet, the petite black redstart, the red-breasted flycatcher and the steppe gull. Says Jain, "The greater flamingos, which have migrated from Europe were a treat for all the bird-lovers."

Neelanjana Sengupta, who works at a designing firm is a bird enthusiast who took up birding as a hobby a few years ago. "I was in Bandhavgarh with a friend and really wanted to see a tiger, but in vain. That's when my friend pointed out the vibrant Indian roller and I was hooked." She now goes birding with her two daughters and their friends every week. "I have always been a 'nature person' and I encourage my daughters to go out instead of sitting home and watching TV." For Sengupta, spotting the peregrine falcon was the highlight of the day, "It's not easily spotted in Delhi, we chanced upon it," she gushed.

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