Buzzing for the BEES

Sunday, 24th February, was celebrated at National Bee Day, with an interesting programme held at Maharashtra Nature Park, Mumbai. Well, while most people may not be particularly fond by bees and would in fact like to keep a safe distance from them, their importance to us human beings should definitely not be underestimated. An often quoted saying, attributed to Albert Einstein, declares:  "If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man." Although it is not certain if these are indeed the words of Einstein (he was a physicist not an apiologist), it is a warning we need to heed.  

 Bees are among the most important pollinators and their absence would cause the productivity of agriculture to fall dramatically. According to a U.N. report published in 2011, of the 100 crop species that provide 90 per cent of the world’s food, over 70 are pollinated by bees. Unfortunately, bee populations across the world are facing a drastic decline. In U.K. the present bee population is half of what it was 25 years ago. In India, the population of the native Indian honey bee, Apis dorsata, has declined by more than 20 percent in the last 10 years. 

Several factors are responsible for this unfortunate decline of bee populations, chief among them being the widespread use of chemical pesticides and herbicides, habitat loss and climate change. Air pollution, which interferes with the ability of the bees to find flowering plants, is another factor to blame. Some research studies have also been suggesting that the recent increase in atmospheric electromagnetic radiation as a result of growing usage of cell phones and wireless communication towers probably interferes with the bees’ ability to navigate.

 Avoiding the use of insecticides, growing bee-friendly flower plants and supporting local beekeepers are a few small but significant steps that we can take to help bees flourish again.  



A Bird Watcher's Conference in The Greater Rann of Kutch

The Global Bird Watcher's Conference (GBWC) is an initiative by the Gujarat Government to put the state of Gujarat on the the Global map as an important bird area. Bird Watchers, Photographers, Biologists and nature buffs from all over the world attend the GBWC each year. This year saw people from Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan, Finland, UK, USA, South America; plus many people form India as well. 

Birders and Birds.

Gujarat has an excellent bird life. I guess this is the reason why we eagerly look for a  chance to go there.  So when the 3rd Edition of the Global Bird Watchers Conference was announced in the Greater Rann of Kutch, we wasted no time to register. 

The Greater Rann of Kutch is a seasonal marshland in the Kutch district of Gujarat, and is the largest salt desert in the world. The word 'Rann' means 'Desert' in the native language. 
A Painted Stork stalking the camera!

Dhordo is the gateway to the Greater Rann of Kutch which is approximately 86 Kms from the city of Bhuj.

Dhordo is a Bird Watcher's paradise.The Greater Rann boasts of more than 200 bird species. This area is a major nesting site for Pelicans and Flamingos. There are 11 Globally Threatened birds found in this area. Some of them are: The Black Necked Stork, Macqueen's Bustard, The Great Indian Bustard, Bengal Florican, Demoiselle Crane, Common Crane and so on.

So many birds!

Since it had rained a week before our arrival at Dhordo, the salt was sticky and the Desert was slightly marshy, but that didn't stop us from seeing some amazing birds like the Desert Wheatear, Variable Wheatear, Great White Pelicans (more than 1000 Pelicans together!), Marsh Harrier, Greater Hoopoe Lark and the Eurasian Wryneck. 

Apart from the birds, Dhordo is famous for its White or Salt Desert which shines like silver on a full moon night- A breathtaking sight that we managed to see.Its even amazing to visit the desert in the morning  to see the first rays of the sun dance across the horizon, painting a colorful picture in the sky and flocks of birds in complicated flight patterns, weaving a brilliant design as they forage for food. 

We had an amazing time at Kutch. And if you've been to any such place with amazing wildlife, do write in to us and tell us all about it. Till we meet again... Keep Birding! 

Desert Wheatear
A Crested Lark looks for a snack!