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A remarkable feat was achieved in the history of Indian Ornithology, with a Mumbaikar having travelled the entire country, 80,000 km, to record 1,128 bird species. This includes rare ones like the Himalayan Forest Thrush, Tibetan Lark, an Chinese Franco lin.
Wildlife biologist, Shashank Dalvi, was on the project "big year". Under this challenge, promoted by Comell University, Birders take up a geographical location to record its bird diversity. Dalvi is the first Indian to map the country's entire coastline, rainforests, sanctuaries and deserts to record bird species.
Such exercises are important in view of shrinking wildlife habitats and climate changes. With temperatures rising, these species may be lost forever in a few years. The data collated through such efforts can inform us of their changing migration and distribution patterns through seasons.
India is among the 12 'mega-bird diversity countries of the world' with an estimated 1,314 species. Over13% of the world's birds are found in India, as per Mumbai Natural History Society. Of these, 150 have been seen only once or twice in the history of bird sighting in India.
Dalvi undertook this feat from 1 January – 31 December 2015. He spent four months in India's Northeast – the richest belt housing about two-thirds of India's bird diversity.
He spotted several species here like Lord Derby's Parakeet and Gould's Shortwing in eastern most parts of Arunachal; Burmese Shrike in Nagaland and Chinese Francolin in Manipur. In Kargil. Dalvi spotted the Long-Billed Bush Warbler, not seen in India since 1977. He saw Tibetan Lark in Ladakh and the Rufous-vented Prinia in Punjab.
Another large bird reserve Dalvi found was in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Among his spotting were the Nicobar Jungle Flycatcher, Central Nicobar Serpent Eagle, Arctic Warbler etc. A certain category of the beaches of kerala and Karnatakka. There he sighted Strom Petrels Skuas and Shearwaters.
He made it to the Desert National Park, Rajasthan, Just in time to spot seven-odd species of migratory birds. These include the Spotted Flycatcher, European Nightjar and the Great White Throat.
He said, "Several birds I saw are in the list of 'Threatened Species'. With this documentation, we will certainly understand them better and they will remain in our memories."