CBC 2018 in Manipal, Karnataka
This year’s CBC at Manipal Institute of Technology (MIT) was, as it was last year, a lot of fun. What made it more exciting for me this time was the fact that the students showed great interest and initiative! They were eagerly waiting for the proposed Sunday campus birding, especially after the surprise first-time sighting of the Blue-faced Malkoha on campus a few days prior and the discovery of new birding spots on the recently expanded parts of the campus which otherwise also hosts a mixture of urban, grasslands and plantation habitats in the 180 acres it encapsulates. This is compounded by the presence of other wooded patches which hug the campus at various locations.
The Sunday campus birding saw five of us starting from the main gate at 6:30 AM which started with an auspiciously welcoming note from an Indian Pitta just as we were starting up the eBird app. This set the tone for the remaining birding session. We saw many expected birds, and some special ones like the many Asian Brown Flycatchers found in several spots around the campus (last time we could spot only one), a Rosy Starling trying to blend in a flock of Chestnut-tailed Starlings, and an annoyed-looking pair of Spotted Owlets eyeing us suspiciously. Other sightings which garnered several oohs and aahs were the White-cheeked Barbet going back and forth to its nest in a tree trunk with fruits from a nearby Singapore cherry tree, the White Wagtails in the fields being a delight, a Purple Sunbird sitting against the sun showing off its iridescence, several House Sparrows being very industrious, and a Black-headed Cuckooshrike hopping from tree to tree.
The latter part of our birding session was starting to become slow owing to the rising heat and we decided that the area around food court would be a nice place to explore at that time. Just as we reached the oxidation pond near the food court, a flash of red caught our eyes which turned out to be an adult rufous male Indian Paradise Flycatcher with full streamers! As we were scurrying to get a better look at the bird, I spotted the white Indian Paradise Flycatcher sitting on the opposite side of the pond! To be able to spot both the morphs of this bird at the same time is something one scarcely believes can happen even in a forest! This greatly satisfied everyone’s birding aspirations for the day.
Just as we were thinking that our session could not get better, an Asian Openbill rose out of nowhere and covered our skyline and a Clamorous-reed Warbler sat out momentarily on some reeds in the pond. After basking in the glory of our sightings for a while and scarcely realizing the events that had just transpired, we decide to end our birding session with a high count of 57 species, which is a great step up from last year! I suspect the whiff of breakfast coming from the food court had something to do with their decision to end the birding session there as well. All in all, the sightings and the company I had made this GBBC was a very memorable event at least for me. I am positive it was a fun and informative experience for my students as well, especially when they compared this time’s checklist with the one from last years and seeing the change in the campus’s species composition. We now eagerly wait for the next CBC!
– Rahul Narlanka, Assistant Professor at Manipal Institute of Technology