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VCF Nature Group

Bird watching from your balcony

The VCF Nature group arranged a lecture-presentation by one of its members Capt. K P Haridas on bird watching without having to go to remote bird sanctuaries and without having to lug along any heavy paraphernalia like binoculars, spotting telescopes or thick bird books. The lecture was entitled “Observing your winged neighbours from your home without binoculars.”

Due to the cost and inconvenience of long travel, the VCF Nature Group has had to restrict its activities to Thane. Thus, we have had Nature walks at SGNP from Yeoor and Manpada, visit to the Ovala butterfly garden, water bird watching at the creek at Thane east, tree walk at SGNP and Hiranandani Estate and along the Gladys Alwares Marg. Yes, we have gone out regularly on picnics, but these too are becoming difficult to arrange because of the cost involved.

This is where the lecture by Capt Haridas, an avid bird watcher and Nature lover, delivered at the VCF monthly meeting, has fulfilled a felt need of the VCF Nature lovers. The basic premise of the lecture was that you need not go to far-away places to do bird watching. In fact, you can just sit in your balcony and let the birds come to you. Incidentally, a lady resident of Thane has been bird watching from her balcony, taking excellent photographs, and holding exhibitions of the photos for a number of years now!         

Most people labour under the misconception that there are very few birds around where they stay. This wrong idea is especially unfortunate for those who stay in the newly developed parts of Thane city. Proximity to SGNP and fairly good green cover – both original and planted by developers of well-planned residential complexes – attracts a surprisingly large number of bird species. Capt Haridas asserted that about 40 species of birds are common in these areas.

The question arises here: Which birds can be called ‘common’? It would be reasonable to say that a bird can be designated as common if it is seen (or heard) at least once in a week. In the case of migrant birds, they should fulfil this criterion during their period of visit.

Another point to be considered is the location from which the bird watching is done. If one is near a water body, many water birds can be spotted which does not hold if there is no water body around. An example of this are the flamingos who gather in the hundreds and thousands at the Thane creek, but are not seen anywhere else in Thane. Similarly, close proximity (say, 100 meters) to a forest means one may see certain species which do not stray far from forested areas. A good example of such forest birds are the Crested Serpent Eagles many of who dwell in the SGNP and are commonly seen just outside, and only just outside, the national park.  

During his lecture, Capt Haridas played recorded calls of the birds that he was showing to the spellbound audience. It is very important to be able to identify a bird from its call since they cannot always be spotted in thick foliage. In the same way, each bird has its own pattern of flight which also can help in identifying it. A very interesting part of the lecture was where he showed the different types of nests and their preferred locations by the different species. The audience were also told the birds’ names in Hindi and Marathi which made the lecture so much more interesting and was very much appreciated.           

Many members participated in the discussion explaining their experience and observations in birding. Keeping in mind the interest shown by many of the members, VCF Nature Group plans to more often take them bird watching to nearby areas like Bhandup Pumping Station, Airoli Creek and Thane east. Hopefully, this lecture will be one of a series of lectures presented by the Nature Group to make members aware of the richness of Nature all around them,

For detailed Presentation   click here