Kanger Valley National Park Bird Survey – 2022 (KVNP Bird Survey-2022) was a 3 day birding event (25- 27 Nov, 2022) where birdwatchers from Chhattisgarh and across India came together to document the rich and unique avian diversity of Kanger Ghati National Park (Kanger Valley).
For the first time in Chhattisgarh, more than 70 birdwatchers from 11 states participated in this survey. More than 50 trails were covered by the participants. The participants split up into different groups to cover varied habitats such as woodland, wetland, riparian forest and scrubland.
During this survey, 9 species of Owls (including the magnificent Spot-bellied Eagle-Owl), 10 birds of prey, 11 species of Woodpeckers (including White-bellied Woodpecker – the largest woodpecker in peninsular India!), and many other species were documented. For rare and uncommon birds, participants not just took photographs but also recorded their sounds.
This survey revealed that the landscape of Kanger Ghati can potentially host species that are found in the Himalayas, North-east, Eastern and Western Ghats! For example: Malabar Trogon and White-bellied Woodpecker are thought to be birds of the Western Ghats. Many species of flycatchers and warblers from temperate Eurasia visit the region during the winter. Kanger Valley is a treasure trove that requires regular surveys by experienced birdwatchers to understand the complexity of the region.
In fact, after the survey was completed, visiting birders (Kalyani Kapdi, Rohit Jain, and Venus Joshi) moved to Raipur and even found a Pied Wheatear! And around the same time, two resident birders from Raipur (Jageshwar Verma and Dr. Dilip Verma) spotted a Northern Lapwing! Both of these birds- Pied Wheatear and Northern Lapwing are new birds for Chhattisgarh (Pied Wheatear has never before been observed in Central India), and these fantastic finds highlight the importance of bringing experienced birdwatchers together for a common cause.
“Kanger valley bird survey was a wonderful opportunity for birders across the country to come together to explore this region’s unique biodiversity. A lot of effort went into planning and executing the survey, and my kudos to the forest department and the team of volunteers who organised this initiative. I sincerely hope that the state will see many more such citizen science efforts which are already happening in different parts of the country with great success” – says Garima Bhatia from Bangalore, Program Manager of Early–Bird project under Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF).
“यह एक बहुत अच्छा बर्ड सर्वे था और मैंने श्री सोनू अरोरा (टीम लीडर) से बहुत कुछ सीखा। । हम साथ में पक्षियों को देखते थे, और हर पक्षी का नाम मुझे बताते थ। मुझे खुशी है कि मुझे इस सर्वे मैं भाग लेने और पक्षियों के बारे में और जानने का मौका मिला। मुझे उम्मीद है कि इस तरह का सर्वे दोबारा होगा।” (This was a very nice bird survey and I learnt a lot from Mr. Sonu Arora. We would watch birds together and he would tell the names of every bird we saw. I am glad that I got a chance to participate and learn more about birds. I hope this kind of survey happens again”) – says Raydhar Nag, a resident from Kanger and works as a Myna-Mitra- a project of KVNP, working towards the conservation of Bastar Hill Myna- state bird of Chhattisgarh.
“To be a part of KNVP bird survey was a proud moment. It was a wonderful experience with splendid bird species like Ruby-cheeked Sunbird, White-bellied Woodpecker. Though it was the first systematic bird survey happening at Chattisgarh, it was very well organized. The birding teams composed of Myna Mitra, Magar Mitra, volunteers from Gidhwa Village (Durg) were equally contributing to the survey along with more experienced birdwatchers. All the records were responsibly uploaded to eBird, which is being used across the world by millions of birdwatchers.”- says Deepali Watve, an engineer and nature educator from Pune.
This was Kanger Valley’s first such bird survey that involved forest personnel, bird guides and citizen birdwatchers of India. This survey was organised by the Chhattisgarh Forest Department with birders from the state in collaboration with Birds & Wildlife of Chhattisgarh and Bird Count India. The DFO/ Park Director – Mr. Dhammshil Ganvir led the effort.
“For us birders, the Kanger Valley National Park Bird Survey was a great opportunity to explore the fabled forests of Bastar. It was an opportunity to meet and interact with 70 like-minded birders and nature enthusiasts from all over the country, and observe species of birds that we have only dreamed of seeing. More importantly, it allowed us to experience the warmth, hospitality and commitment of the forest department officials and staff. They spared no effort to take care of us at remote locations in the forest. It was a celebration of sharing in many ways— of citizen science, diversity, culture and experiences. We return to our respective states with our hearts full of the richness of Bastar”– says Bijoy Venugopal, a communications professional and a birder based in Bangalore.
During the bird survey, participants also saw mammals like Malabar Giant Squirrel, Spotted Deer, Rhesus Macaque, Grey Langur, scat of Sloth Bear, pug-marks of Leopard, and also Indian Wolf- an endangered species!