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| Last Updated:: 10/02/2016

Thousands flock to Uttarakhand for four-day bird watching festival






Thousands of birding enthusiasts from across the country will flock to Dehradun for the four-day Spring Bird Festival starting Feb, 11 Thursday , attempting to spot avian species ranging from the common Himalayan cuckoo to the rare red-billed leiothrix.


Through walks, talks and trails spread over four days, the gathering of professional birdwatchers and amateurs will catch a glimpse of almost 700 bird species found in the Himalayan foothills around Dehradun which include rare birds such as the ruddy shelduck and red-crested pochard.


The festival will be inaugurated at Asan Conservation Reserve and will be held simultaneously at Forest Research Institute, Thano reserve forest and Rajaji Tiger Reserve.


Dhananjay Mohan, chief conservator of forests and bird expert told TOI, "The forest department is aiming to improve the profile of Uttarakhand as a crucial state in India for bird conservation and as a bird watching destination. Various NGOs and prestigious institutes such as Wildlife Institute of India, Bombay Natural History Society as well as local NGOs such as Titli Trust, Nature Science Initiative have been roped in for the event."


Mohan said that Uttarakhand is blessed with harbouring at least 693 listed bird species, representing more than half of all bird species found in the country. Bird tourism, thus, holds immense potential in the state in terms of both conservation of the species and livelihood generation in remote areas of the state. The festival will also provide a unique opportunity to a new generation of bird guides to practice their skills and learn.


The festival is expected to attract over 5,000 participants for various activities.


Kapil Joshi, director of eco-tourism department said, "We are inundated with offers from people who are willing to organize guided bird tours, heritage walks, butterfly walks, plant orientation and nature walks, lecture and seminar on bird tourism, book reading, quiz etc. A three-day bird fair held alongside will have scientific displays including demonstration of various equipment and activities. Local artisans and vendors will hold food stalls and sell their handicrafts and produce to the visitors. Photography and sound recording workshops will be part of the event. Guided bird tours and packages will be available through tourism department and tour operators."