Birding: Birders from Bhutan participated in the Global Big Day for the first time on May 14 listing 165 bird species in a span of a daylong birdwatching.

The checklists of the participants and the list of species have been submitted to eBird, an online checklist programme. On the big day, birders counted the number of birds seen or heard and submitted a checklist of the day’s observations to eBird, which is based in Ithaca, New York in the USA. eBird was introduced to revolutionise the way the birding community reports and accesses basic information about birds, their abundance and distribution.

“Total of 20 birders across the country, covering 12 dzongkhags participated in the Global Big Day,” a keen birder, Tshering Tobgay, who is also a teacher in Bajo said.

Initiated in 2015, the event is observed on May 14 every year. The first Global Big Day recorded 6,085 species from 44,173 checklists submitted by 13,664 participants across 135 countries.

This year Bhutan entered the global contest for the first time. While Thimphu had the maximum number of birders, 11 other dzongkhags like Gasa, Punakha, Paro, Chukha, Wangdue, Bumthang Lhuentse in the east and Sarpang in the south were also covered by the birdwatchers.

As of yesterday, 11 participants from different parts of the country have submitted 165 bird species from 30 checklists. Some individuals like Tshering Tobgay started birding alone from Punakha to Goenshari in Gasa. A senior forester from Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park, Kado Rinchen also ventured alone from Langthel to Bumthang.

Another team also drove from Paro to Gedu in Chukha to participate in Global Big Day. “We have listed 195 bird species ranging from coniferous in Paro to cool broadleaved forests in Gedu under Chukha,” Yeejay, a forest ranger from Thimphu, said.

But Yeejay’s team has not been able to submit their list to eBird since the team did not have time to compile the list. “I still have not received the list yet from Yeejay,” Tshering Tobgay said.

Once eBird receives the checklist with the number of species, the results would be declared online on its website.

As of yesterday, 11,494 participants from across the world have submitted 28,946 checklists recording 5,328 bird species from around the globe.

The Asia region has submitted a record of 1,334 species of birds  spotted by 394 birders from countries such as Nepal, India and China, among others.

“They would give us the ranking based on the checklist and number of species we have submitted,” Tshering Tobgay said.

The winner, which will be selected electronically using computer will be awarded a pair of binoculars.

But the event was also organised as a national competition in Bhutan. “The results will be declared in a week’s time and prizes will be awarded to local birders,” Tshering Tobgay said.

As per the checklist uploaded on the Birds of Bhutan facebook page, livestock extension agent from Thimphu, Kelzang Dorji listed the highest number of birds with 47 and followed by Tshering Tobgay with 44. Forest ranger from Lhamoizingkha Kumar Limbu and Kado Rinchen recorded 41 birds each. Yeejay and his team recorded 195 species while Druk Birders listed 80 birds between Thimphu to Punakha.

“We did roadside birding from Thimphu to Punakha and the Satyr Trogopan was the bird of the day for our team,” Phub Dorji, a forester, said.

While only a handful of birders participated this year, birders plan to continue taking part in such international events. “We would like to continue participating in the event,” Tshering Tobgay said.

Some of the bird species submitted by the Bhutanese birders were the warbler, babbler, treepie, minla, woodpecker, barbet, minivet, shrike, laughing-thrush, tit, sunbird, Fantail, flycatcher, dove flowerpecker, bulbul, drongo and oriole.

Water birds like Black-headed Gull and Ruddy Shelduck were also recorded in the species list.

Tempa Wangdi