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The first-ever bird count at Karnala Bird Sanctuary
organized by Green Works Trust in association
with Maharashtra Forest Department.

19th and 20th December 2020


To birders, Karnala Bird Sanctuary needs no introduction. It is indeed a very promising place for birding with a handsome checklist of species. Flocks of birders visit the sanctuary and record various species during their birding. But, birding-beyond-documenting-just-the-species is more important. An overall study of birds is necessary. Not just the number of species, but also their population, their preferred micro habitats, their migration patterns and many other factors are important aspects that need to get documented. Scientific study of birds and bird population on a continuous basis is necessary to gather such data which will help researchers use bird activity as reliable indicators of climate change.

Green Works Trust (GWT) strongly believes that along with scientific study, it is necessary to sensitize people about the importance of biodiversity. This will prove to be a powerful tool to conserve the habitat. Involving common people in such scientific activities can change their vision to look towards conservation.

Thus, the ‘Karnala Bird Count (KBC)’ event was conceptualized by Green Works Trust (GWT) with a two-fold benefit — Scientific study and Citizen Awareness. It was organized with the strong support of Maharashtra Forest Department.


Aim of KBC

Monitoring bird species & population of Karnala Bird Sanctuary through a ‘Citizen Science’ initiative

Objectives of KBC

  1. To sensitize people about this initiative and receive their participation in this survey
  2. To collect data of bird diversity at Karnala Bird Sanctuary
  3. To collect data of bird population at Karnala Bird Sanctuary
  4. To maintain and analyze collected data

This event was originally scheduled in March 2020. For this event, GWT had invited common citizens to participate in a scientific study under the guidance of experts. The announcements were made and we got responses from various States of India- Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Maharashtra. But, due to the pandemic situation and the following lockdown, this event had to be postponed. After the ‘Unlock India’ was announced, Green Works Trust and Maharashtra Forest Department decided to conduct this long-awaited event on 19th and 20th December 2020. However, the entry of participants was restricted only to Maharashtra residents.

The Survey Area

10 routes/trails were identified to cover four distinct habitat types of Karnala — Hill Forests, Open Forest, Grassland & Water Bodies. Some of these trails already had names and a few trails were named as per convenience for the event.


The Methodology

The 2-day survey was conducted using 2 scientific methods of collecting data— Line Transect method and Point Count method. 9 transects were identified on 9 trails (shown on the map) and 5 point count locations were defined on 1 trail (Taadamba-Hariyal).

The Teams

27 participants were selected for the event and 9 teams were carefully configured such that there was 1 bird expert, 1 photographer and 1 e-Bird user in every team. Each team was led by a GWT representative and a Forest guard.


Team ‘Garmaal-Ransai’


Team ‘Nageshkind-Karnalafort’


Team ‘Hariyal-Taadamba’


Team ‘Lower Mortaka’


Team ‘Upper Mortaka’


Team ‘Gherawadi Tower’


Team ‘Gherawadi Well’


Team ‘Turaade Waterfall’


Team ‘Turaade Hill’

The Event
Citizens from various walks of life — doctors, students, lecturers, businessmen, artists gathered at the Karnala Bird Sanctuary for this birding event.

Registrations desk and welcoming of participants with registration kits

The ‘Karnala Bird Count’ event was inaugurated by honorable APCCF Shri Sunil Limaye along with other senior officials DCF Dr. Pingle, ACF Shri Kupte and RFO Shri Chavan.

This was followed by an in-depth briefing session by Shri Nikhil Bhopale (Founder, Green Works Trust) to all participants regarding conducting the bird count using scientific methodologies. Prathamesh Desai conducted another session to guide participants
on how to document the observations using eBird app effectively and efficiently


Nikhil Bhopale briefing participants


Prathamesh Desai’s hands-on
eBird training to participants


On-field Activity

Nine teams visited various trails in the sanctuary. Species and their population were documented by participants on the field. Each team submitted their checklists after which all records (sighted or heard) were meticulously ratified by experts Nikhil Bhopale and Prathamesh Desai to ensure accuracy and authenticity of the data collected.

Total of 103 species* of birds were documented during the count. Highlights of the sightings were species like Alpine Swift, Indian Scops Owl, Indian Eagle Owl, Brown Wood Owl, Indian Pitta, Common Hawk Cuckoo. A thrilling sighting of a Peregrine Falcon carrying a Parakeet and feeding on it was documented by Team ‘Nagesh Khind’ who trekked right up till the Karnala fort.

Bonus sightings: Various species of snakes — Bamboo Pit Viper, Common Wolf Snake, Travancore Wolf Snake, Beddome’s Cat Snake, Common Cat Snake and Vine snake were seen during the survey. Several species of spiders, frogs, geckos, butterflies and other insects were spotted by the participants during their birding trails.

New learning for participants: During the 2-day bird count, the participants got hands-on experience of how scientific surveys are done. They were very happy to learn these methods as it gave them a completely new perspective for birding.


Learning for forest guards: This event was an opportunity for the on-ground staff to observe and interact with serious birders on the field, thus improving their understanding and identification of birds. They expressed their gratitude towards the participants and experts for the experience and guidance during the event.

Improved awareness amongst participants: GWT emphasized on ethical practices to be used while birding. Strict precautions were taken to conduct the Bird Count without using playbacks or any other unethical methods like flushing out birds.

The Concluding Session

The event concluded with a session chaired by DCF Dr. Pingale. Nikhil Bhopale summarized the observations and listing of the Bird Count. All the participants were given certificates which were distributed by DCF Dr. Pingale. The event was well-appreciated by DCF Dr. Pingale and RFO Shri Chavan. Participants and forest guards also shared their on-field experiences and learnings.


Shri Bhopale sharing the highlights


DCF Pingle’s concluding speech


RFO Chavan’s speech


Participants receiving their certificates from DCF Dr. Pingle

The Highlight

The entire event was successfully completed without using any unethical birding methods (like using playback calls) to lure out birds. Ethical birding was given paramount importance throughout the event. GWT who strongly supports the #noplaybackpolicy had put up boards for awareness. GWT also created a special photo frame for participants to click their photos. But this was not just a ‘selfie point’; it was a tool to spread the message of ‘no playback policy’.


Participants clicking photos in support of the #noplaybackpolicy

The Participants Team


Proud birders of the first-ever Bird Count at Karnala pose with the team of Green Works Trust and
Maharashtra Forest Department

The Forest Department Team

We extend our thanks to Maharashtra Forest Department for their strong and thoughtful support to this initiative.

  • Special thanks to APCCF Sunil Limaye, DFC Dr. Pingle, ACF Shri Kupte for their esteemed presence and guidance at the inauguration of the event.
  • hanks to Forest Guards — Balu Pardhe, Gulab Katkari, Devidas Kelanje, Pravin Shetye, Vrushali Goyji, Namdev Ambaaje, Manoj Waghmare, Bhagwan Jadhav, Gurunath Veer, Sunil Bhagat and Yuvraj Marathe for accompanying the teams through the forest trails.
  • Thanks to the on-ground Forest Department staff for arranging a comfortable stay at Karnala, Aapta and Akulwadi. Special thanks for the tasty food which participants relished.
  • And… last but definitely not the least, sincere and heart-felt thanks to RFO Shri Chavan for the amazing support and guidance given from time-to-time throughout the planning, preparations and execution of this event.
  • Nikhil Bhopale (Founder and Managing Trustee)
  • Krupa Thakur-Patil (Founder member and Trustee)
  • Sagar Satpute (Head-Projects)
  • ­Dipali Bhopale (Project Manager)
  • Vaibhav Patwardhan (Volunteer)
  • Sarvesh Abhyankar (Volunteer)
  • Gargi Geedh (Volunteer)
  • Kishor Shirkande (Volunteer)
  • Pranav Bagwe (Volunteer)
  • Prathamesh Desai (Volunteer)
  • Hema Sagare (Volunteer)
  • Samrat Godambe (Volunteer)
  • Sarthak Awhad (Volunteer)

GWT’s vision

GWT aims at conducting the Bird Count event in 3 different seasons of the year for at least next
5 consecutive years in order to collect meaningful data. We are thankful to the Maharashtra Forest Department for assuring their continued support in this initiative.

GWT also aims at conducting similar events for snakes, spiders, butterflies etc. at various protected areas. We believe that bringing together citizens and the Forest Department for such activities will help in building substantial data about biodiversity and also spread awareness.


*Checklist of species recorded on 19th and 20th December 2020

Sr. No. English name Scientific name
1 Indian Scimitar-babbler Pomatorhinus horsfieldii
2 Jungle Babbler Turdoides striata
3 Puff-throated Babbler Pellorneum ruficeps
4 Brown-headed Barbet Psilopogon zeylanicus
5 Coppersmith Barbet Psilopogon haemacephalus
6 Green Bee-eater Merops orientalis
7 Red-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus cafer
8 Red-whiskered Bulbul Pycnonotus jocosus
9 White-browed Bulbul Pycnonotus luteolus
10 White-eyed Buzzard Butastur teesa
11 Little Cormorant Microcarbo niger
12 Greater Coucal Centropus sinensis
13 House Crow Corvus splendens
14 Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos
15 Common Hawk-cuckoo Hierococcyx varius
16 Large Cuckooshrike Coracina javensis
17 Laughing Dove Spilopelia senegalensis
18 Spotted Dove Spilopelia chinensis
19 Ashy Drongo Dicrurus leucophaeus
20 Black Drongo Dicrurus macrocercus
21 Bronzed Drongo Dicrurus aeneus
22 Greater Racket-tailed Drongo Dicrurus paradiseus
23 White-bellied Drongo Dicrurus caerulescens
24 Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus
25 Crested Hawk Eagle Nisaetus cirrhatus
26 Crested Serpent-eagle Spilornis cheela
27 Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
28 Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus
29 Spot-breasted Fantail Rhipidura albogularis
30 Black-rumped Flameback Dinopium benghalense
31 Pale-billed Flowerpecker Dicaeum erythrorhynchos
32 Thick-billed Flowerpecker Dicaeum agile
33 Grey-headed Canary-flycatcher Culicicapa ceylonensis
34 Red-breasted Flycatcher Ficedula parva
35 Tickell’s Blue-flycatcher Cyornis tickelliae
36 Verditer Flycatcher Eumyias thalassinus
37 Brown-cheeked Fulvetta Alcippe poioicephala
38 Indian Pond-heron Ardeola grayii
39 Oriental Honey-buzzard Pernis ptilorhynchus
40 Common Iora Aegithina tiphia
41 Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus
42 White-throated Kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis
43 Black Kite Milvus migrans
44 Golden-fronted Leafbird Chloropsis aurifrons
45 Jerdon’s Leafbird Chloropsis jerdoni
46 Asian Koel Eudynamys scolopaceus
47 Dusky Crag Martin Ptyonoprogne concolor
48 Eurasian Crag Martin Ptyonoprogne rupestris
49 Small Minivet Pericrocotus cinnamomeus
50 Black-naped Monarch Hypothymis azurea
51 Scaly-breasted Munia Lonchura punctulata
52 White-rumped Munia Lonchura striata
53 Jerdon’s Nightjar Caprimulgus atripennis
54 Black-hooded Oriole Oriolus xanthornus
55 Indian Golden Oriole Oriolus kundoo
56 Jungle Owlet Glaucidium radiatum
57 Indian Paradise-flycatcher Terpsiphone paradisi
58 Plum-headed Parakeet Himalayapsitta cyanocephala
59 Rose-ringed Parakeet Alexandrinus krameri
60 Vernal Hanging-parrot Loriculus vernalis
61 Chestnut Shouldered Petronia Gymnoris xanthocollis
62 Grey-fronted Green-pigeon Treron affinis
63 Yellow-footed Green-pigeon Treron phoenicopterus
64 Indian Pitta Pitta brachyura
65 Ashy Prinia Prinia socialis
66 Indian Robin Saxicoloides fulicatus
67 Oriental Magpie-robin Copsychus saularis
68 White-rumped Shama Kittacincla malabarica
69 Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach
70 Crimson-backed Sunbird Leptocoma minima
71 Purple Sunbird Cinnyris asiaticus
72 Purple-rumped Sunbird Leptocoma zeylonica
73 Vigor’s Sunbird Aethopyga vigorsii
74 Loten’s Sunbird Cinnyris lotenius
75 Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica
77 Asian Palm-swift Cypsiurus balasiensis
78 Little Swift Apus affinis
79 Common Tailorbird Orthotomus sutorius
80 Blue Rock-thrush Monticola solitarius
81 Malabar Whistling-thrush Myophonus horsfieldii
82 Rufous Treepie Dendrocitta vagabunda
83 Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea
85 Blyth’s Reed-warbler Acrocephalus dumetorum
86 Sulphur-bellied Warbler Phylloscopus griseolus
87 Green Warbler Phylloscopus nitidus
88 Greenish Warbler Phylloscopus trochiloides
89 Western Crowned Leaf-warbler Phylloscopus occipitalis
90 Indian Pygmy Woodpecker Picoides nanus
91 Rufous Woodpecker Micropternus brachyurus
92 White-naped Woodpecker Chrysocolaptes festivus
93 Yellow-crowned Woodpecker Leiopicus mahrattensis
94 Common Woodshrike Tephrodornis pondicerianus
95 Alpine Swift Tachymarptis melba
96 Grey Junglefowl Gallus sonneratii
98 Brown Wood-owl Strix leptogrammica
99 Red-wattled Lapwing Vanellus indicus
100 Indian Scops-owl Otus bakkamoena
101 Common Hoopoe Upupa epops
102 Jungle Nightjar Caprimulgus indicus
103 Indian Eagle Owl Bubo bengalensis