The 90 bird watchers in 18 teams, who are part of the SACON’s second edition of bird race here on Sunday, spotted more than 250 species from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m..

The event was organised by Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History along with HSBC Bank and Yuhina Eco-media. Three teams ended up sighting 133, 132 and 131 bird species, respectively.

The racers identified almost all common birds of Coimbatore. There were many rare observations such as Redwinged Crested Cuckoo, Rufous Bellied Hawk Eagle and Pallied Harrier from unexpected locations, said P. Pramod, senior scientist of SACON.

The average species sighting per team has increased by 50 per cent from the last bird race conducted on December 19, 2010. The main reason is that regular birdwatching has increased the birders’ expertise in identifying rare birds.

In this particular race, the birders identified eight new species.

Seven winners of the SACON’s Young Bird Watcher of the Year competition of previous years were also part of the race.

The teams visited wetlands in Coimbatore, suburbs, travelled up to Mettupalayam, Anaikatti and Solayur in the north west section, up to Siruvani and Walayar in the south west and southern side and towards Pollachi in the south and towards Sulur in the east.

Every team had to record each of the sightings with time and place in a prescribed format which at the end should be consolidated and presented in another format. All the teams had to submit their worksheets and consolidated sheets.

The sheets were verified by a team of ornithologists from SACON and evaluated.

Thanks to the advancement in digital photography, most of the teams photographed 70 to 80 per cent of their observations adding to the authenticity of their claims.

The teams consisted of five members each and one of them was an experienced bird watcher.

Some teams had more number of experienced bird watchers. The youngest bird watchers were Abishek Ahmed (10), Vijay (11) and the eldest, Harkishen Joshi (74).

A veteran bird watcher and author of books on ornithology, Rathinam, remembered the days when he could not even get 10 persons for birdwatching in Coimbatore. But now, more than 100 persons were regularly into birdwatching during weekends, he said.

The statistical outcome of the bird race will help conserve wet land eco-system to continue to attract these winged visitors.

Special guests

In Tirupur, the residents have some special guests all the way from Central Asia and Europe.

The Redshank birds from Western Europe, and Bar-headed geese that crossed the Himalayas to reach the knit city from Tibet, Kazakhstan, Russia and Mongolia regions, provide a treat for bird watchers and nature enthusiasts.

“We are spotting the Redshank, which possesses a distinctive pair of bright orange-red legs, for the first time in places around Tirupur city,” K Ravindran, executive member of Natural History Trust and a keen bird watcher, said.

On the Bar-headed geese, Mr. Ravindran said that the species had been found in farms rich in pulses and grains on the outskirts of Tirupur and also near the Nanjarayan tank.

“This time, the Bar-headed geese have come in a batch of 32. In 2010, just four birds of the species visited Tirupur,” Mr. Ravindran pointed out.

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