In a first of its kind, common citizens and bird aficionado were involved in the bird count or bird census by using scientific methodologies under the expert guidance (citizen science initiative) at the Karnala Bird Sanctuary located around 10 kms from Panvel in Raigad district. During the two-day activity, a total of 103 species of birds were spotted.
This was also a first-ever official bird count at Karnala Bird Sanctuary, conducted on December 19 and 20.
Green Works Trust (GWT), an NGO which works on the environment conservation in association with the Maharashtra Forest Department (MFD) conducted the two-day bird counting activity, christened as “Karnala Bird Count”. There was a total of 27 participants from across Maharashtra.
“A total of 27 registered participants were divided into 9 teams who covered all types of habitats in the sanctuary. Each team comprised of a bird expert, a photographer, an eBird app user along with one GWT member and one forest guard,” said Nikhil Milind Bhopale, founder of GWT, a wildlife expert and conservationist from Navi Mumbai.
Bhople said that the objective of the Karnala Bird Count was to sensitize citizens about the importance of biodiversity. “The event was organized and conceptualized by GWT in association with the MFD. It had a two-fold benefit—Scientific study of birds and Citizen awareness. Hence the count was planned with citizen participation,” said Bhopale.
The survey was conducted using two types of bird count sampling methods viz. Line Transact and Point Counts. “The 9 line transects and 5-point counts were done to cover the sanctuary area of 12.48 sq km. This count was aimed to document bird population and avifaunal diversity of the sanctuary,” said Bhopale.
A total of 103 species of birds were sighted during the count. Some species spotted were like Alpine Swift, Indian Scops Owl, Indian Eagle Owl, Indian Pitta, Common Hawk Cuckoo and Peregrine Falcon feeding on Parakeet.
The two-day program was also important because of first ever night bird watching and session on identification of Leaf warblers by Nikhil Bhopale.
“The entire event was successfully executed without using any unethical birding methods (like using playback calls) to lure out birds,” assured Bhopale.
Bhopale informed that the MFD assured that the bird count will be conducted thrice a year for the next five years.