Birders on the move

Birders on the move
It is said that in order to see birds, it is necessary to become a part of the silence. But the silence these days is deafening. The avian population is leaving the city in droves and so are the birdwatchers, who are running off to the outskirts in search of the now-elusive chirps.

“I usually head to the outskirts of the city now, to areas like Nandi Hills, Kanakapura Road, Tumkur Road, Sarjapur and so on,” says Sudhir Shivaram, director and founder of ‘Sudhir Shivaram Photography’ and an avid bird watcher for the last 15 years. “Any area which is a good habitat for birds and has limited human activity is a good option for bird watching. And such areas are only on the city’s outskirts now.”

There are plenty of reasons why the feathered community is giving the city a miss. “The decline of water bodies and their beautification is a big reason. The bunds on the lakesides are making way for stones and concrete for aesthetic appeal but this is not favourable for birds,” points out Sudhir.

“Apart from biological factors, like crows and pigeons edging out other species that feed on grains, external reasons like use of kite ‘manja’ and pigeon netting as well as an increase in the domestic cat population, has resulted in a decrease in the bird population in the city,” lists out Bopanna Pattada, who heads ‘Bangalore Birding Adventures’.

Like everyone else, he also prefers to head out of the city for bird-watching expeditions now and says places like Bannerghatta National Park and Rishi Valley School are good options. “So is Hoskote Lake which has regained its water level in the last 5-6 years and now attracts a wide variety of birds.”

But while enthusiastic birders and photographers don’t mind going the extra mile, the growing crowds around avian havens are becoming a cause for concern for many. “Even places like Nandi Hills are seeing huge crowds now. There is a lot of noise and garbage and thus the previously large numbers of birds is coming down,” says Punith Suvarna, a data analyst and bird photographer.

“A lot of offroading is happening now and vehicles are going very close to water bodies and green areas. We need to give birds some space. So intense is the desire and competition for unique clicks, that people are resorting to means like destroying the nests so that others can’t get the same shots,” he adds.

The birds are on their way out. Pretty soon we will only be left with their pictures on social media then.

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