Birds of India
Big Bird Day West Bengal 2013
February 24th 2013 I Sumit K Sen

Bengalbird and Bird Photography India egroup members participated in the 3rd Big Bird Day (BBD) in eastern India on 24th February 2013. Although in the nature of a competition, BBD plays a vital role in popularizing birding as a hobby amongst newcomers and school children. The main pull of the day, from a birding perspective, is the snapshot of local avifaunal richness that such the activity generates. Not only does it establish base data, it also provides an index for comparison across geographies.
For the members of our egroups, the focus was on content rather than the competition
- and that philosophy neatly tied up with groups across the country who participated in the same event at the invitation of our sister group, Delhibird.

Bird & Participants List

A record 212 participants spread across West Bengal formed 61 teams and birded for much of the day covering diverse habitats. 396 distinct bird species were recorded, with the Kolkata teams managing to spot 190 (up from 137 in 2011) species in the metropolitan area. Participants included mega teams which spread across large areas, like the 13 member team led by Abhijit Das which recorded 143 species in the Howrah/Hoogly area. While the husband-wife pair of Arijit Nag and Oishimaya Sen Nag spent the day spotting birds from their house in Sovabazar,  but still managed to list the Barn Owl amongst the 10 birds they saw on the day!

Shikra at Shyamkhola on BBD 2013. Pic: Sudipto Roy

North Bengal had 8 teams participating, and Avijan Saha's team of 5 not only recorded 110 species at Fulbari Barrage, they also had the distinction of recording the 'star bird' of the day - a Greater White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons), a first record for West Bengal!

Greater White-fronted Goose at Fulbari Barrageon BBD 2013. Pic: Avijan Saha

There was also new participation from the Darjeeling hills, where  teams led by Satish Chettri and Sanjib Pradhan listed 50 and 27 species from Darjeeling and Senchal area respectively. Bishwapriya Rahut's team recorded a rare Blue-fronted Robin amongst the 77 birds listed from the Lava area.

Barred Cuckoo Dove, Lava. Pic: Supriyo Ghatak

There was also participation from the coast where Soumyajit Nandy's team recorded 93 species around the Frazergunj area.
The western parts were covered by teams led by Anup Kr. Dey (Bakreswar), Anirban Patra (Bankura), Rakesh Khedwal (Asansol) and Binay Rungta (Jhalda). Rakesh's team managed to list 97 species.

Purple Swamphen from Chittaranjan area. Pic: Rakesh Khedwal

20 species of birds were seen by 40 or more teams across the state. These were:
Black Drongo, Spotted Dove, Indian Pond-heron, White-throated Kingfisher, Red-vented Bulbul, Common Tailorbird, Common Myna, House Crow, Asian Pied Starling, Cattle Egret, House Sparrow, Black-hooded Oriole, Oriental Magpie Robin, Blue-throated Barbet, Rufous Treepie, Little Cormorant, Jungle Babbler and Purple Sunbird.

Black-hooded Oriole, one of commoner species recorded on BBD. Pic: Sumit Sen

As many as 122 species were seen only once. They include rarities like:
Falcated Duck
, Crimson-breasted Woodpecker
, Great Hornbill, Brown-winged Kingfisher, Slaty-legged Crake, Jerdon's Baza, Northern Goshawk, Collared Falconet, Spotted Laughingthrush, Slender-billed Scimitar Babbler, Black-headed Bunting and Scarlet Finch..

Newspaper Coverage

The Telegraph, Calcutta's top English daily newspaper, participated with us on BBD 2103 and sent a team led by Subhajoy Roy to cover the event in the field. This resulted in widespread awareness which will kindle interest and aid conservation.

Coverage of BBD by The Telegraph, Kolkata on 25/2/2013

* The list of birds seen and more images can be found here

BBD 2013 ends at Sunset at a wetland in Dankuni



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