Pink City Birding Fair a flying success

Mohammed Iqbal
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School children watching birds at the 16th Jaipur Birding Fair on Saturday.-- Photo: Rohit Jain Paras
School children watching birds at the 16th Jaipur Birding Fair on Saturday.-- Photo: Rohit Jain Paras

The 16th Birding Fair at Man Sagar Lake here on Saturday attracted a large number of bird-lovers, nature enthusiasts, school children and residents of the Pink City who were apprised of the significance of this year's theme of conservation of urban lakes. The scenic water body, teeming with migratory birds these days, was the hub of environmental activities for two days.

The Tourism and Wildlife Society of India (TWSI), organising the event every year since 1997, has drawn people's attention to lake conservation in a bid to improve the aquatic character of the 400-year-old water body situated in the vicinity of Jaipur. Though the Man Sagar Lake has been restored with the help of experts, the issue of sewage being released into it still remains largely unresolved.

About a dozen bird-watchers from Keoladeo National Park in Bharatpur, led by famed Bachoo Singh, attended the two-day fair to help the visitors identify different species of birds. Mr. Singh said the visitors were thrilled after being able to differentiate between migratory birds and the indigenous ones.

Noted conservationist and TWSI honorary secretary Harsh Vardhan told The Hindu that the creation of eight earthen islands along with the plantation of Acacia nilotica or desi babool within the lake had served the purpose of developing habitats for birds: “The bird population has increased because these islands are undisturbed. They are not directly accessible.”

During the two days of the event, visitors evinced a keen interest in the birds swimming or diving, like shovellers, pintails, coots, etc., and those resting on the edges of islands and the lake banks enjoying the shallow muddy waters. The resident ducks such as spot-bill duck and common moorhen have bred in hundreds, signifying as the indicator of health of the historic water body.

Flocks of Great Cormorants and Egrets were seen lined on the mud embankments of the lake, much to the delight of school children who saw and identified them through telescopes. Stalls put up by organisations such as the Initiative to Conserve Animal & Nature (ICAN), Wildlife Care Society and Raksha also provided useful information to visitors.

It was both fun and some serious deliberations on the status of birds and quality of water in the lake during the fair.

The visitors included Gandhi Smriti & Darshan Samiti vice-chairperson Tara Gandhi Bhattacharjee and Harideo Joshi University of Journalism & Mass Communication Vice-Chancellor Sunny Sebastian.

Mr. Vardhan said the 16th edition of the fair also highlighted the issues of non-availability of aquatic vegetation, existence of invasive fish -- making the sustenance of fish-eating birds difficult -- and dumping of waste.

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