On a Wing and a Prayer

As you read this, binoculars are being dusted off, laces tightened and reference books flipped through, because it’s that time of the year again. The HSBC Hyderabad Bird Race is back for the fourth year in a row, and City birders are all set for a day of spotting winged beauties. This year, the bird race is being organised jointly by the Birdwatchers’ Society of Andhra Pradesh (BSAP) and the Great Hyderabad Adventure Club (GHAC). Teams of four or five will set off early in the morning for around 12 hours of birding, at the end of which they will submit their logbooks to the organisers, who will determine the winners based on the number of birds spotted. Participation in the event has increased, says Aasheesh Pittie, president of BSAP. Pittie adds, “We’ve stopped registrations prior to the closing date this year, as there has been an overwhelming response. We may not be able to accommodate all those who have registered, as the event has a budget.”

- The Hindu

– The Hindu

The teams are free to go anywhere within a 50-km radius of the City to make their lists. Parks, water bodies and areas under the AP forest department are favourites for the sheer variety of bird life they host. Unfortunately, this year, the ICRISAT campus, a place where birders usually make a beeline for, will not be participating in the event. Pittie, though, believes this will only challenge the participants to explore other spots. Amar Deep, an organising volunteer with GHAC, said that 25 teams of four to five members have registered for this year’s race. “It’s a great opportunity for photographers and people who want to learn about birds and to connect with nature. It’s also a great way to discover the green spots of the City, which have now been reduced to islands in the midst of the urban jungle.” He adds, “You can get a general idea of the biodiversity of these areas. With so many teams, the lists become a good reference for the species of birds in the area.”

However, Pittie cautions that the data from the bird race cannot be constituted as a census of bird species in the City. “One cannot enumerate numbers from the results of an event like the bird race, nor will it be fair to judge the number of species on this one event, for such data is arrived at by repeated surveys and a relatively high level of skill in identification.” The beauty of the bird race is that everyone is welcome to participate, even amateurs. Amar Deep explains, “Even laymen, with no knowledge of birdwatching, can take their first steps at the bird race. What we do is we make an experienced birder the team captain, so it is a learning opportunity for amateurs. They can learn to spot and identify birds — you can almost call it a one-day crash course!”
JVD Moorthy, the vice-president of BSAP, suggested some of the best places in and around the City to spot birds. Head here between November and March to see what Hyderabad’s avian life looks like.

  • Narsapur Reserve Forest, on Medak Road
  • Chilkur
  • Manjira river
  • The backwaters of Himayatsagar (especially for water birds)
  • Tank Bund
  • Nehru Zoological Park (for forest birds)
  • Indira Park
  • Sanjeevaiah Park
  • KBR Park



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