Birding Expedition 16th-17th March, 2019. Naturenomics™ School, Balipara Foundation.

Highlights of the Event:

> 74 individuals participated in the workshop to spot and discover drare and endemic birds of the Eastern Himalayas.

> The objective of the programme was to teach participants the basic concepts of birds, techniques of bird identification and the importance and benefits of birding as a leisure activity.

Birding (or bird-watching) is the observation of birds in their natural habitat, as a leisure activity and scientific sport. Not only does it help scientists in collecting information on various bird aspects and populations, but it also has health benefits to the observer. The Eastern Himalayan Naturenomics™ School had organised a birding expedition with students from Tezpur College and Tezpur University. On the first day, 20 students participated, whereas on the second day, there were a total of 54 participants including teaching faculty. The workshop was facilitated by  Dr. Jaydev Mandal and Mr. Pranjal Mahananda. After registration into the programme, the event started with a welcome address by programme executor, Darshana Borah at the Eastern Himalayan Botanic Ark. Following a brief introduction, Dr. Mandal had took participants out for birding at the Botanic Trail. 12 species of birds were encountered on the first day, which included 4 rare species. On the second day, the participants could spot 32 species of birds, out of which one was an undocumented species at the Eastern Himalayan Botanic Ark. After breakfast, Dr. Mandal gave a presentation on “Basics of birds and bird-watching”, during which he talked about the techniques of identifying birds, the threats that  avian species are facing world-wide, conservation case- studies and success stories. Mr. Mahananda took over to talk about a website known as “e-Bird”, which is also available in the form of a mobile app. It is a citizen science project which documents bird distribution, abundance, habitat usage, and trends through checklist data contributed by bird enthusiasts from all around the world. The participants were then guided on using the website/app and were encouraged to continue using the same. After a brief interactive session, the event ended with distribution of certificates for participation and lunch.

Impacts of the event:

> Participants learned about the basic concepts of birds, techniques of bird identification, the significant role that birds play and the need for their conservation

> The programme hopes to encourage participants to take up birding because of its health benefits in addition to other benefits

> Promotion of the ‘e-Bird’ app, which would serve as a small step towards contributing to the birding scientific community.