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Hyderabad Birdrace at Haritha Plaza, Hyderabad

India Bird Races: Hyderabad Bird Race – 19th Feb 2017 

Here’s another rendezvous with the birds of Hyderabad. 

The 8th Hyderabad Bird Race, part of India Bird Races was held on Sunday, 19th February 2017. The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited (HSBC) and The Yuhina Canopy, with UWM as Facilitating Partner, along with the Birdwatchers Society of Andhra Pradesh (BSAP) and the Great Hyderabad Adventure Club – GHAC along with the city’s birding community organised this unique programme in and around the city. 

Managing Director, Telangana Tourism Development Corporation Dr. Christina Z. Chongthu, IAS flagged off the bird race teams in the early morning from the Hotel Plaza, Begumpet. 

About 90 enthusiastic bird watchers, divided into groups of 5 took off for a day long Bird race with the primary goal of identifying as many bird species as possible. The theme of the bird race was to create awareness about bird conservation and protection of its habitat. 

In an increasingly urbanising world, with more and more people residing in urban areas, these human-influenced landscapes have become another habitat. Birds are often the foremost attraction for anyone interested in exploring the natural world. The India BirdRaces have been conceptualized to help look at the avifauna (birdlife) of these urban areas and their surrounding wealth of habitats and serve to popularize bird-watching and help lead to a better understanding of other aspects of our biodiversity and environment 

There were no pre-determined routes to the Bird Race – Participants observed the birds at multiple locations all over the city and the outskirts and came up with their own tally of species. An evening program was held at Hotel Plaza where the top three teams were recognized based on the tallies checked by the judges.

Simple, enjoyable and interactive, this dawn to dusk event allows teams of birding enthusiasts spend a day birding in and around the city, up to 50 km or so around the urban perimeters. This was followed by an exciting, interactive evening get-together where all participants, from children to rank beginners get an opportunity to interact with some of the finest and most experienced birders in that city, including special invitees. With nearly 3000 people collectively partaking across more than a dozen Indian cities between November and early-March, the India BirdRaces are possibly the greatest birding event.

Mr Mahesh Iyer, Head Oncology Biometrics, Novartis, a long-time wildlife enthusiast and an avid bird watcher was the chief guest. Mr. Sam Alex, Vice President and Branch Head, HSBC was the guest of Honor. Mr Ashish Pittie, President BSAP, Diyanat Ali, Founder Director, Great Hyderabad Adventure Club were also present.

Earlier bird races in Hyderabad have recorded more than 180 species of birds. The teams visited open habitats, agricultural tracts. semi-arid landscapes, inland wetlands, secondary growth, and areas with human population. Most frequented places were Manjeera sanctuary, Narsapur forest, Himayat Sagar, Ananthagiri Hills.

In recent years, the India Bird Races have become a Non-Competitive event, but a Race to try spot as many birds and explore every site in and around a city. Invaluable data has been gathered and which reflects all that is good and bad about how our urban areas are impacting the natural scheme of things.

Despite its rules, there is a fun element to this exercise, as also the team spirit and participation that comes into focus here. A day well spent for the cause of birds and urban environment!

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