Group organises bird-lovers’ day out in Rajkot

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ASHOK MASHRU, a senior birdwatcher who is member of executive committee of the Bird Conservation Society of Gujarat (BSCG), guided a motley group of bird-lovers on a birding trip to Nyara village on the outskirts of the city on Sunday.

The birding trip, organised by Karyashala, a forum which promotes arts and culture and activities in various fields, was the first organised trip in Rajkot in more than a decade and organisers said they plan to make such expeditions a regular feature.

Medical practitioners, software engineers, architects and homemakers were among 17 who assembled at Nyara for the birding trip in the morning. Mashru, a civil engineer who retired from the irrigation department in 2017, guided the bird-lovers.

Mashru and Jignesh Rathod, a bank clerk who has been birdwatching since 2014, showed the group birds of 62 species, including migratory northern shoveler, common teal, pintail, gadwalls and resident common coots.

“It was a bit difficult to wake up early on a Sunday morning but the trip made it worth the attempt. Having been born and brought up in the city, my knowledge of birds was next to nil… I never knew birdwatching can be so exciting and that birds of so many species are around us,” said Dr Varun Shukla (37), a gastroenterologist from the city.

The trip was organised free of cost by Karyashala, a forum run by Gaurav Vadher, an assistant professor at an architecture college in the city, and his colleague. The forum works for promoting arts, culture and activities in various fields asl well as organises virtual talk-show Manthan.

Architect Mahek Mandaviya (23) said she seeks to blend birding with her practice. “I like exploring new things and I got interested in birdwatching after listening to a talk of Mr Mashru on Manthan some time ago. After that, I read some books and when Karyashala organised this trip, I took the opportunity to do birding for the first time,” said Mandaviya.

“My knowledge of birds was limited… my aunt Urvashi Ravani, a homemaker loves birds and she asked me to join this trip… watching birds of so many species and photographing them was amazing,” said Dhruvin Mehta (28), a software engineer.

Mashru, who has been birdwatching for 35 years, said he was happy that young people showed interest. “Late ornithologist Lavkumar Khachar used to organise nature camps till late 1990s in and around Rajkot… the activity continued till around 2006 but they had to give it up later on as no one would register for such events… It is exciting that Karyashala has taken the initiative for organising such a trip as it is always a pleasure to talk to young people and share our knowledge,” Mashru told The Indian Express.

Vadher too said that he was happy with the response and would try to organise more such trips. “People live in a city for years but would know little about the biodiversity in and around their city… this trip was an attempt to bring about awareness. We are happy with the response and would organise more such trips.”

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