So, when the Bird Race came up and it was necessary to have four people on a team, I quickly organized three teams...in alphabetical order, Black Stork (I was the captain, and the members were Kannan, Poornima and Saandip), Crimson Sunbird (Rohan was the captain, and the members were Chandu, Keshav and Vasuki, as Jayashree dropped out at the last moment), and Flowerpecker (Sanjeev was the captain, and the members were Chandu, Deepu and Vaibhav). When Yash came back from his Rajasthan trip, I wrote to the organizers that I would be including him, too.
We had a wonderful day of "birding" instead of our usual "nature trail"...and quite unexpectedly, at the end of the day, our tallies placed Flowerpecker first in the race, with Black Stork coming a very close second! Crimson Sunbird's tally of bird species was a little lower (we were scrupulously honest about ticking only species which one of the members of each team had seen).
Everyone was very happy, and my friends say that I deserve the credit.
Here's my response:
"It's great fun to take credit for a lot of things that others do...three people drive tirelessly throughout the day, two with rather severe back problems....other people identify Little Brown Jobs and Never-Seen-Before-Raptors...youngsters who have learnt birding in the last few months up our count.... people leave their families on a festival day and come along...everyone does most of the spotting...and I get the credit! Very good arrangement, I like it!
"Though, of course, I wish we'd also gone to Lalbagh and sighted those two extra birds (Sanjeev, you should have told us, I would have kept Kannan in your car for that leg, also, and we could have shared the first prize! :D ) ...I am actually far happier that a team comprising of Apoorva, Chandu and Deepu got the first prize. It is great the youngsters get recognition and this kind of motivation!
"I did think that we had a good chance of getting "Bird of the Day"...the Eurasian Sparrow-hawk is quite a rare sighting. The last time I sighted it, the BULBs pooh-poohed me though I said that in spite of the accipiter shape, it was much larger than a Shikra (now I am thumbing my nose at them, ha, ha!)...but this is the way things happen...a record sighting of the Western Reef Egret is, was, of course, the prime choice.
"I too agree that our regular birding is far better than this "tick-and-run" kind of thing (imagine, yesterday we ignored all the butterflies and other interesting stuff! )....but once a year, it allows us to spend a lovely day outdoors, all together, without guilt! And I think, yesterday, our rushing about was very productive...even the abortive trip to Manchanabele produced that wonderful lifer (for me at least)...the Pallid Harrier. And the confirmation that what I had seen (on another occasion) was, indeed, a Eurasian Sparrow-hawk and not a Shikra as I was told, felt nice. I will learn from this, to stick by my id and not get swayed by more "experienced" birders.
"Kannan, very thoughtful email about what we are, and should be, doing to preserve the habitats.....if each of us does our own small bit, I think we can make a difference!
"I am really proud to call all of you my friends...and it's not about birding. It's the kind of people you are...so good-hearted, generous and affectionate. My birdwatching and wildlifing is also about the specimens of Homo sapiens who give me such excellent (and often very erudite) company. I am a very lucky person!
"The spoiler yesterday was Vaibhav losing his camera bag, some cables, and a lens. Vaibhav, which lens was it? Neither Yash nor Saandip have found it in their cars. Anirudh says that he saw one of the boys with the bag at a location later than Bannerghatta. I would agree with this, as when we left Bannerghatta parking, there was certainly nothing left behind. I also got in touch with both JLR and they also checked with the Forest Dept, no bag has been found or handed in. Can you all please once again think about where you saw the bag last? With Sanjeev-the-lost-and-found miracle worker in our midst, I feel we may yet get it back! What an irony that I forgot my camera twice and my scarf fell on the track at Ramnagara (Saandip it still has your tire tracks on it!) and my phone also fell...and every time it was retrieved by my vigilant friends....and then the careful Vaibhav loses the bag!
"Even though yesterday was "quantity" and not "quality" in terms of bird-watching, it was a very memorable day for many reasons, the results being just a small part of them. Thank you, Usual Gang of Suspects...`you make watching every bird, tree, and insect so much fun!"