152 species spotted during bird race in Thiruvananthapuram

Legges hawk eagle spotted during the Thiruvananthapuram Bird Race 2021.

Legges hawk eagle spotted during the Thiruvananthapuram Bird Race 2021.

Eight teams exploring bird diversity as part of the Thiruvananthapuram Bird Race 2021 reported 152 species of birds from eight sites in and around Thiruvananthapuram.

Rare birds such as the chestnut-winged cuckoo, Eurasian blackbird, black baza, and the orange-breasted green pigeon were also observed by birders who visited Bonacaud forests, Arippa forests, Kallar-Ponmudi forests, Palode forests, Akkulam-Veli wetland complex, Punchakkari wetlands, Kottoor forests, and the bird-rich areas of the city on Sunday.

Palode tops

The highest count was from Palode — 84 species. The bird species observed in the Ponmudi forests numbered 64, Arippa 40 species, Bonacaud 44, Kottoor forests 50 , Akkulam-Veli wetland 56, and Punchakkari wetlands 54 species.

The city zoo compound, paddy fields near Kesavadasapuram, and the Kannammoola thodu located in the city yielded 32 species.

A data and experience-sharing get-together was held later at the YMCA here.

Sanjayankumar, Chief Conservator of Forests, Southern Circle, Kerala Forests and Wildlife department, Kollam, was the chief guest. Forests in Kerala, he said, were better protected, either as protected areas or reserve forests, and hence the biodiversity within them too. However, this was not the case with biodiversity outside forests, mainly because the varied habitats lay in pockets across the State, including coastal area, waterbodies, mangroves, sacred groves, and so on. Volunteering for citizen science initiatives of documenting biodiversity was very significant for long-term protection of such biodiversity-rich habitats, he said.

15th year

Renjan Mathew Varghese, State Director (Kerala), WWF India, said the Thiruvananthapuram Bird Race, part of the volunteer engagement programme of WWF-India and the green partnership programme of the Social Forestry Division of Kerala Forests and Wildlife department, was now in its 15th year. Besides visiting birding hotspots, observing the birds and overall positive and negative changes in habitat, and documenting these, the bird race had been able to attract many youngsters to nature and birdwatching and develop a cadre of bird experts in the city.

Koshy M. George, president, YMCA, Thiruvananthapuram chapter; Reji Kunnumpuram, chairman, public relations, YMCA; and A.K. Sivakumar, Senior Education Officer of WWF-India and coordinator of the bird race, spoke.


Sharing its experience, the birding team that visited the Punchakkari wetlands expressed grave concern over the habitat loss and degradation owing to drastic land use changes and recent heavy rain.

Another team observed that the NCESS campus, near Akkulam Lake, was rich in bird diversity as compared to the open Akkulam wetland area on the other side of the road, now a dump for unsegregated waste.

There was less disturbance in the Kallar-Ponmudi forests owing to tourism closures, and bird activity was pretty high. Seven species of birds of prey, including the migratory booted eagle, were observed at Ponmudi. Bonacaud was also quieter owing to low maintenance of tea plantations and less human intervention. However, the bird count in the Arippa forests was slightly lower as compared to earlier observations.

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Printable version | May 22, 2022 8:13:13 pm |