In a first of its kind initiative to be conducted in the region, birdwatchers of the city are getting together to collect and document bird species spotted in Visakhapatnam and other parts of Andhra Pradesh through the digital platform of eBird India.
While Visakhapatnam and its neighbouring regions have several critical zones supporting resident and migratory bird population, so far not much has been done towards documentation of these avian species in a systematic manner. With an effort to bring the birders of the region together and initiate the digital documentation of bird species, a workshop was conducted by Bird Count India (BCI) in association with Vizag Birdwatcher’s Society at Visakha Public Library on Saturday.
eBird is a global, internet-based platform for gathering observations of birds, and for birders to maintain records of their sightings. Housed in Cornell University’s Laboratory of Ornithology, the India chapter of eBird is managed by Bird Count India. The platform encourages birders to maintain complete bird lists and upload them on eBird, conducts periodic bird events and projects, offers support and resources to birding groups conducting their own projects and put together useful information on bird monitoring.
Speaking to The Hindu , Ramit Singal of Bird Count India, which manages eBird India, said: “So far, we have got seven million observations by around 9,000 birdwatchers from across India since 2014. However, there hasn’t been much information put up from Visakhapatnam. The idea is to provide a common platform to the birders of the region to upload bird data on the eBird.org.” The portal has an in-built filtering system and over 100 reviewers are based in cities across India who monitor the content uploaded. Vikram Penmetsa of Vizag Birdwatcher’s Society said that there were about 25 active birders in the region who have been documenting bird species, but eBird.org will help to bring together the data on bird distribution.
Apart from its major events like the Great Backyard Birdcount, which is held in February every year, Bird Count India has recently initiated a project for two big bird atlases, one in Mysore which was completed recently and another in Kerala which is a five-year initiative to be completed by 2020. “We recently completed a comprehensive bird survey for Kanha National Park and are in the process of getting a comprehensive checklist of birds from Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh regions,” Mr Singal said.
One of BCI’s unique events is the Campus Bird Count which was started in 2015 with 50 college campuses in the India. Today, the event has more than 200 campuses participating every year. “There are over 400 bird species recorded from college campuses during this yearly event. We will be announcing the dates of the next Campus Bird Count in December and would be an ideal platform to document many bird species spotted in and around the educational campuses of Visakhapatnam,” Mr Singal added.