" Kya aap birthday party ke liye aye hain?", asked a young guard posted at the campus gates, as we asked for directions. Another car joined the queue, with similar query, and the guard was puzzled by the group gathering for some crazy early morning birthday party. The time was 7 am, on Sunday 5th February morning and a group of 10-15 people had collected at JNU gates for the event.
|Indian Silverbill / Munia|
|Yellow wattled lapwing|
To locate more birds, we moved away from human civilization towards ridge forests around JNU campus. By 10 am, the bird count had reached fifty five however many common ridge area birds like larks and pipits had not been seen. I had learned to differentiate between warblers, bushchats and stone chats and learned that all small brown birds are not sparrows.
|Black winged Stilt|
Breakfast in the campus guest house created opportunity for casual chats and we got to know a bit more about our fellow team-mates. It was a mixed group of amateur and seasoned birders from different professional backgrounds. Few had taken up this as hobby after retirement, the senior most being a 77 year old gentleman. The youngest in the group, aged 7 -12 years were also enthusiastic birders who had memorized the Grimmett guide to Birds of Indian Subcontinent.
|Long Billed pipit|
|Brown headed Barbet|
Bhatti mines was the third and last birding location for the Big Bird Day. We hoped to find ridge area birds like vultures and eagles. The afternoon half however did not yield expected results, as only a long billed pipit, a long tailed shrike and 4-5 more birds were added to the bird count list. It was sunset by the time we headed home. In Delhi NCR, 155 species of birds had participated in the day long bird birthday celebration. Hoping the next year will see increase in the number of participants.
|Common Kestrel hovering midair|
Let each day be a "Bird Day" celebration.