Pune : Students record 88 species of birds in Fergusson college campus during Great Backyard Bird Count

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In a survey conducted recently in Pune based Fergusson College, the researchers found 88 species of birds in the campus.  The bird census was conducted in the college’s premises under the Great Backyard Bird Count, between February 17 and 20. 

The data collected during this census was uploaded on the www.ebird.org. 140 students from the college participated in the census at 15 different locations between 5.30 AM and 7.30 PM, individually and in a group. 

Avishkar Munje, professor, Fergusson college said, “Pune city’s tekdi were grasslands and had borbabhul trees on them. Gradually gliricidia, nilgiri, subabhul were planted. Similar change of trees was recorded on the Fergusson college tekdi also. It is important to survey the reptiles, trees, animals and birds too.”  

Munje further explained that The Campus Bird Count is an event held annually across the country and is a part of the global great backyard bird count. The objective of the event is to document the diversity of birds around us. Some of the campuses in India are huge and  have a lot of vegetation and hence are important areas to look at biodiversity in urban habitats. In this event, participating students had to document all the birds they saw within a 15 minute time frame and make a checklist and upload on the ebird app (www.ebird.org). This was to be repeated at different places and different times to cover the entire campus and its diversity.

Training sessions were conducted for interested students  in watching birds and systematically documenting them from January 2023. Information about each bird seen before on campus was shared with them. More than 140 students participated in the event this year. 15 points were chosen on campus where the students were supposed to watch birds in groups or alone, whenever they got time.  

The college ranked first in the event, in terms of contribution by students. The college submitted 5500 shared checklists and saw 88 species during the four days of the event in February 2023 on the college campus.

Birds found in Fergusson College

From the 88 species seen, several migratory birds such as the Ultramarine Flycatcher, Indian Paradise Flycatcher, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Taiga Flycatcher, Chestnut-tailed Starling, Booted Eagle, Black Redstart, Greenish Warbler, Western Crowned Warbler and several others were seen.

This event is important because it highlights the diversity of such urban habitats.
Students from the Science departments: Biotechnology, Botany, Chemistry, Computer science, Environmental Science, Geology, Microbiology, Zoology,
As well as arts departments, Political Science, English, Psychology and History participated in the event. 

“Before the GBBC event, I had never done birding in my entire life. This event introduced me to the world of birds and I’m so glad it happened! The dopamine rush whenever I saw a bird or heard a call was something I had never experienced before. It also enriched my knowledge about a very different field which I had never cared to pay attention to. Fergusson College Pune conducted this event to a very large extent with around 100 birders actively birding over a span of 4 days. A lot of them also worked for an exhilarating 12 hours per day. What’s important is that all of them thoroughly enjoyed this all not only on the days of the event but also throughout the 1 month long training session dedicated just for this. The whole and sole of this successful event was our teacher Avishkar Munje who literally inspired almost a whole batch to start such a refreshing exercise which is going to last a life for us all, ” shared Aditya Patil, second year geology undergrad student from Fergusson college. 

“The Great Backyard Bird Count was an event anticipated eagerly by the students for quite some time. With a confluence of experienced birdwatchers and interested newcomers, preparations started a month beforehand, with plentiful training sessions conducted for the newcomers in order to correctly identify each and every bird species found in/around the campus, which was assigned the highest importance. It was truly exhilarating to watch about a 100 different birdwatchers, guided by the expert student coordinators, work tirelessly day and night, to make sure that every single observed species was identified appropriately and meticulously recorded. The overall experience at the end of it left us yearning for more and I surely look forward to more such events in the future, which highlight the importance and beauty of birdwatching and more such birdwatching events,” informed Rajorshi Ghosh, 2nd year computer science undergraduate from Fergusson college

“The event of campus bird count 2023 has been a rollercoaster ride for me. Being one of the coordinators, it was too difficult to manage and follow the time table. But one thing that I adored doing was watching birds soar through the sky and to understand and acknowledge their behaviour. This event has helped students to identify the diversity and importance of birds on campus. Paradise flycatchers, warbler species, shikras and kingfishers were some of the birds I enjoyed watching. Cherry on the top was getting to participate on this global platform. This event is something that I’ll always cherish. I am thankful to Avishkar Sir for introducing us to the world of birds,” said Saee Patil, second year environment science undergraduate from Fergusson college

Renuka Suryavanshi 

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