2nduttarakhandBFSitabani participantsbyAshishKothari

The 2nd Uttarakhand Spring Bird Festival was successfully conducted by the Uttarakhand Forest Department at Pawalgarh Conservation Reserve from the 4th o 8th February 2015. Birdwatching at Pawalgarh, Sitabani and Kyari, was the highlight of the Bird Festival.

Seasoned birders and beginners, school children, members of the local community, forest staff from across Uttarakhand and many others showed great enthusiasm on the birding trails and everyone wholeheartedly agreed that the birdwatching was rewarding. Birdwatching was conducted at eight different forest trails, and over the four days, 800 people went birdwatching not only from Uttarakhand, but also Punjab, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Nagaland, Karnataka, Delhi, Meghalaya, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and a few foreigners. The birdwatching was conducted by seasoned guides from various parts of Garhwal and Kumaon including those from rural communities.

The Checklist of Birds of Pawalgarh Conservation Reserve released by Honorable Forest Minister at the Inaugural Ceremony of the 2nd Uttarakhand Spring Bird Festival contains a list of 352 bird species. Not only were 210 bird species from thislist were seen at the Bird Festival, but another 10 new species were observed taking the list of birds at Pawalgarh Conservation Reserve to 362 species. Lesser Fish Eagle, Yellow-crowned Woodpecker, Brown Dipper, Taiga Flycatcher, Ashy-throated Warbler and Nepal Wren Babbler were just some of the new additions to the list.

At Kaladhungi, 450 school children from 36 local schools and 5 outstation schools from Gwalior, Dehradun, Nanital and Kashipur were taken for birdwatching along 3 forest trails. In addition to local schools from the landscape, children from 4 communities Gujjar, Macchwara, Sapera and Kanjar also participated. Differently abled children were also taken birdwatching. In addition, Jim Corbett Heritage Walks at Kaladhungi were hugely popular. About 215 students went on Jim Corbertt Heritage Walk. Two of these walks were conducted by Padma Shri Tom Alter. Tom Alter conducted book reading sessions from Jim Corbett’s books at Pawalgarh and Kaladhungi.

A rural tourism and craft mela was conducted at Chunakhan over all the four days, and numerous other workshops such as photography, bird identification and conservation, bird in arts enthralled visitors to the Festival.

The Bird Festival was sponsored by MoEFCC , CAMPA, UFDC, UTDB, NABARD, and UGVS. Fourteen organizations supported the event – Titli Trust, Corbett Gram Vikas Samiti, Rainbow Friends of Nature & Environment, WWF, NSI, Himal Prakriti, Gangotri, ONGC,GBPIHED, Welham Boy’s School, Kalpavriksh and Waste Warriors.

At the concluding ceremony, it was announced that the next Uttarakhand Spring Bird Festival will be organized at Asan Conservation Reserve from 11th to 14th February 2016. It was also decided that smaller nature festivals will be organized at Kausani, Munsiyari and at Kyari village in Kumaon region, during 2015. It is hoped that a number of such events will continue to be organized under the aegis of the Monal Foundation recently announced by the Honourable Forest Minister. This will help to achieve the aim of making Uttarakhand a major birding destination, and through this enhancing both bird conservation and local community livelihoods.