Thanks to hi-tech gadgets, people now capture excellent images of some rare birds

Dakshina Kannada has a growing birding community, which is no surprise. Sandwiched between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea, the variety in the district’s topography lends itself well to birding.

While many young people have started tracking the birds of the region and networking online to discuss them, the region has some veterans, who for decades now, have been spotting birds, observing their calls, habitats, and movements.

There was much in evidence of people’s interest in birds on October 7 at the ‘Dakshina Kannada and Udupi Birdwatchers Convention – 2012’ with ‘Conservation of wetlands and wetland birds’, organised by the S.A. Hussain Memorial Trust, in Sri Bhuvanendra College, Karkala in Udupi district.

Shivashankar, an IT professional, who has been birding for more than eight years in the region, told The Hindu that at least 50 people attended the meet and that 160 people have registered online in the Dakshina Kannada Birdwatching Network. Of them, 60 per cent are from Mangalore and Moodbidri and the rest are from Udupi.

Ramit, a student from Manipal Institute of Technology (MIT), said one could see a wide variety of birds within a short time as one could travel from the seas to the ghats in the district within a day. He said he organised birding walks for students, where photography was prohibited and the participants were encouraged to take notes. He said there was hardly any documentation of the birds of the region and online too, there was very little information about them.

Vineet and Suhas Krishna, both students of M.Sc. from Mangalore University, go birding within the university campus. Vineet said that although 90 species spotted on the campus had been identified, their photographs were not available. So he was trying to get photographs and has taken photographs of 35 birds. Suhas said that he got to know about birding from Vineet and since then, he had been going birding, noting details such as the time, place, call, and size of birds he spots.

Speaking to The Hindu, Harish Bhat, Research Scientist, Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, who delivered the S.A. Hussain Memorial lecture, said: “It is a positive trend. More people are coming forward and taking up birding as a hobby and as a profession.” Thanks to hi-tech gadgets, people are capturing pictures of birds and learning to appreciate them.

They were exploring the region more and there was a healthy competition amongst them. It fetched good data about birds that were not known earlier. But they must get professional guidance so that they could get information good for conservation, he said.

Birding was inexpensive, requiring a pair of eyes and a notebook, said Rohit Rao, a businessman from Mangalore, birder for 23 years, who observed birds as a boy scout trekking in Dakshina Kannada. He now takes schoolchildren for birding walks. He said: “There is lot of fresh interest (among youth). The gap between people who know (about birding) and who don't know should be bridged.”

Mr. Shivashankar said the network would conduct, in November and December, a workshop on birds. He hoped to organise “birding races”, where birders split into groups, go birding, and returned to compare the number of species they had spotted.

People interested in birding in Dakshina Kannada may contact Shivashankar on ph: 08258-233075.