CHENNAI: Rare sightings and newcomers were some of the highlights of the Chennai Bird Race on Republic Day. The 12th edition of the event, which has nature lovers listing the number of species seen after a dawn-to-dusk expedition in and around the city, saw over 110 participants. Along with 131 varieties of birds, organisers Madras Naturalists’ Society (MNS) noted the presence of nearly 20 first-timers. Given that spreading the virus of bird watching is a prime goal of the annual initiative other than updating the list of what all can be spotted in the area, officials are happy to welcome the beginners.
“We are pleased with the number of newcomers,” said MNS secretary Vijay Kumar. “Creating interest in this is higher on priority than finding new species.” Participants from different walks of life were divided into groups of four. There were 28 groups including three consisting school students and as many formed by college-goers. Six groups reported seeing over 100 species.
Eight came back with tallies of 80-plus. Perumbakkam, Kelambakkam, Adyar estuary and IIT Madras were among the places visited. Bar-headed goose (at Great Salt Lake near Kelambakkam), tree pipit (Thayyur lake), brown hawk-owl (IIT), Pallas’s g r a s sho p p e r wa r b l e r (Perumbakkam) and slenderbilled gull (Adyar estuary) were some of the notable sightings. A list of 226 birds found in and around Chennai on the MNS website has no mention of the last two. With new participants, the Bird Race can count new finds too.