Bird Watching

World Environment Day-2015

June 5th is World Environment Day!
Here are four things you can do without moving out of your seat- just by using your mobile phone

June 5th is celebrated as World Environment Day worldwide.  At IndianWildlifeclub, we have decided to make a connection to our environment through birds.   So what are theFOUR things you can do without leaving your seat and as you read this mail?

Number 1.
We have three interesting quizzes on birds which can be attempted online (any number of times, till you get them right!)

Number 2

Download free mobile apps relating to Indian birds from our store by clicking on  
All these apps are extremely user-friendly, simple and targeted at the amateur.   Next time you step out of your home, be sure your mobile has these apps in them.

Number 3
Watch a 20 minute documentary on our National Bird at the link 

Next time you see the dancing peacock, you will appreciate this bird of the pheasant family even more.    If there is one bird which is so much part of our folklore and music, it is Sarang-The Peacock.

Number 4
 Bird watching is a hobby which grows on you.  It helps you to spend time outdoors, network with others and opens out a whole new world of nature!   Observing birds is now a science called "Ornithology".   
Enroll for an online Ornithology Program conducted by BNHS (Bombay Natural History Society).  This one year course will earn you a valuable certificate which students can use to explain a gap year when they go for admissions/jobs.  With soft skills getting more and more important while interviewing for jobs,   this is a certificate every young man and woman must possess.

A must have certificate for bird guides in Parks and sanctuaries (Get your organization to fund/subsidize the fees!)

Last date of applying 20th June, 2015
Course fee Rs 9990/-
IndianWildlifeclub members get a 5% discount on the fees when they apply and pay online.

Click on the link below to apply

Happy Environment Day
Team IWC

Sesame flowers in a field in Madhya Pradesh

Citizen Science

Candid camera spies on nature

Candid camera spies on nature
The concealed camera is giving us a whole new view of wild-life, says S.Ananthanarayanan.
Observing animals in the truly wild presents many challenges. It is nearly impossible at night and even in the day animals do not wait to be observed. Sightings, except for rare closeups, thus need to be from a distance and we know very little about how animals behave when they are really alone. For the same reason, we do not even know all the kinds of animals there are in an area, nor even nearly correct numbers of many of them.
Alexandra Swanson, Margaret Kosmala1, Chris Lintott, Robert Simpson, Arfon Smithand Craig Packer, from the universities of Minnesota, Harvard, Oxford and the Adler Planetarium at Chicago describe in the journal Scientific Data, a trial with 225 concealed cameras, in the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania, over a period of four years. The results of the trial are the first of their kind in terms of the discretion of observation, the quality, the statistical importance and also the quantity of information collected.

We could say that first to systematically catch animals unawares were the trappers. They set traps, concealed pits, nets or clamps that closed when an animal stepped on them, and the purpose was to physically capture the animals, usually for their fur. Now, the idea of the trap has been turned over, using cameras instead of nets or clamps, to capture images of animals while they move in the forest, undisturbed and unaware, and continuously, for months on end. The way the camera trap is sprung is either by a sensor of heat or movement, or both, and the camera takes a series of pictures, hopefully to capture images of an animal, a group of animals, animals with their young, a predator, an animal in flight, and so on.
Camera traps have been in use for some twenty years, the Scientific Data paper says, generally to document rare species in understudied areas or to estimate numbers of species whose individuals could be identified. The second use of camera traps is in fact something like the tracking that is done by fixing a metal or radio tag on an animal or even DNA analysis of droppings, etc. But, with the advances in high resolution, automatic cameras as well as the computer processing of images, it is now possible to carry out more intensive surveys, of multiple ‘unmarked’ species, the paper says.
Snapshot Serengeti
Snapshot Serengeti, as the survey was called, stationed 225 cameras in a 1,125 square km grid within the protected National Park that lies in the 25,000 square km Savannah ecosystem straddling the Kenya-Tanzania border in East Africa. The region has large numbers of the wildebeest and zebra, which migrate along with the seasonal rains to the plains. There are also great many other species and the present survey was to understand where and when predators and their prey moved in the forest, and and to add to an on-going survey of the lion population since 1960 and also surveys of the herbivore population, the paper says.The camera-trap grid spanned a rainfall and vegetation gradient, which would create a direction of movement and was arranged so that it covered the whole area being studied, with at least two cameras to cover the home range of each major animal species.

The arrangement was first set up in Nov 2010 and has been working continuously since Feb 2011. By the year 2013, each of camera had been in action for 440 days and a total of 1.2 million image sets, each set consisting of one to three pictures taken together, were created. The cameras were distributed, as shown in the picture, each within a five square km cell, so that they covered the whole trial area. The cameras were mounted, within steel cages, on conveniently located trees, or posts, and 50 cm from the ground, to get pictures of large animals. The grass was trimmed to less than 30 cm and branches were also trimmed to avoid obstruction or false firing of cameras.
The cameras fired at night mostly with a normal flash, rather than an Infra Red flash, which had been used at first, as the latter was found to yield poor images. But the sensor, which set off the camera, was an IR sensor, which responded to body heat of the animal, and there were sensors that responded to movement. At first, the sensors were set to ‘high’ sensitivity, but this produced much false triggering, and the setting was fixed at ‘low’. Each time the camera was triggered, the IR flash cameras took three pictures, but the others took only one picture, as the flash consumes more power. There was also a delay of one minute built in between picture events, to prevent continuous operation if there was a herd of animals!

The data

Dealing with 1.2 million picture sets presents a huge challenge. The pictures were first technically sorted by computers, but further inspection and classification had to be by humans. The pictures were loaded on a website of Zooniverse, the ‘citizen science’ platform, and the work of dealing with the million-odd pictures was carried out by 28,000 volunteers who came from the general public. Novice participants who registered for the task on the website were given guidelines for identifying 48 possible species and the software provided for simultaneous and successive viewing of sets of pictures. There was also a faster track for knowledgeable participants. 322,653 pictures were identified as those of of the 48 species of animals, including rare species like the aardwolf and the zorilla.


Each picture was also inspected by many viewers and the findings were analysed on computer, to discard identification that was not ratified by others. And finally, a sample of  a little over 4,000 pictures was viewed by a panel of ‘experts’ and the results were used to validate the finding of the citizen viewers. As many as 96.6% of the pictures were found to have been correctly identified.


The data collected represents an unprecedented set of observation of animals, both from the viewpoint that the animals suspected no outsider, like a cameraman, as well as of the number of close pictures of animals in action. Apart from obvious value for the study of wild-life, the authors of the paper point out that the method of data acquisition is also without precedent. “The consensus classifications and raw imagery provide an unparalleled opportunity to investigate multi-species dynamics in an intact ecosystem…….We anticipate broad interdisciplinary re-use of these data sets with applications that span basic and applied ecology, citizen-science research, machine learning, and computer vision,” they say in the paper
[the writer can be contacted at].

More pics at the link

Environment Education

Start date extended to 1st August; You can apply in July too!

Procedure for registration:
You can fill in the application, attach a passport size photograph and pay  the fees online, all from your desk!
Here is how:
As you are aware, we give 5% discount to IWC members.   To facilitate this, we have made the application available only to those who log in with the user name (email id) and  password for

Step I
In case you are not a member of IndianWildlifeClub, register at

 Step II

Click on the link for "Registration form for Basic Course in Ornithology – BCO 100"  at the link

You will be prompted to login with the user name (email id) and  password for

Step III

Once you log in, the application form is visible.  Fill in the details online.   Do not leave any of the answer boxes blank.
Attach a passport size photo by uploading the photo at the appropriate answer box.

Step IV

Now that the application form is filled in, you are ready to pay the fees.  Once you click on the submit button after filling the application form, you will be directed to the payment gateway.  You can pay by debit/credit card, Internet banking, mobile banking etc of almost all the banks in India.   Choose your payment option and make the payment.  You will receive an immediate acknowledgement once the payment is made.  Acknowledgement from will be received within a day or two.  Acknowledgement from BNHS with further course details can be expected in about ten days time from the date of payment.

Important Dates

Start Date: 1st August, 2015
Inaugural Camp: 29 and 30 August, 2015

The inaugural camp will be conducted at BNHS Centre in Mumbai 29-30
August 2015. Following is the address

BNHS Conservation Education Centre
General A K Vaidya Marg
Inside Filmcity
Goregaon (East)
Mumbai: 400065

The accommodation and food will be taken care by BNHS during the camp.
However please note that it will be a dormitory kind of stay with the
basic facilities.  Please note that participants will have to bring their sleeping bags
during the Inaugural Camp.

Film Reviews

Living With the Park

Living with The Park-Ranthambhore National Park
-Susan Sharma
Many of us have been following the struggles of Ranthambhore National Park, Rajasthan, India,  in saving its precious population of tigers.  Most of us in the North have visited the Park at least once.  All of us have watched HD movies of the magnificent tigers of Ranthambhore on National Geographic and Discovery.  Recently the Park was in news when 'T24' killed a guard and the tiger was shifted out of the Park.

Can we consider the National Park as an island and protect it?  This question will come to us often as we watch "Living With the Park-Ranthambhore National Park".   Please watch our documentary in English or Hindi and express your opinion on the you tube channel of IndianWildlifeClub,   Needless to say, the opinions expressed in the documentary are those of the protagonists and have to be received as such. 

Here are the links. 
Living with the Park in Hindi- Part II

Living with the Park in Hindi - Part I

Living With the Park-Part II 

Living with the park-Part I

We look forward to see your valuable opinions expressed on the you tube channel.  To post a comment on you tube, you need to open an account with  you tube, if you do not have one already.  Having an account on you tube will also enable you to subscribe to our channel  If you do so, you will get notified whenever a new video is uploaded by us on

Please watch the videos on your mobile, if possible.  The videos can be easily downloaded for offline viewing on phone.  Yes, you can view our YouTube videos even without an Internet connection.  Our videos come with an Add to Offline icon (an arrow pointing downwards placed just below the video).  Click on it, the video will be saved on the phone or tablet's storage and you can view it later with even with poor or no connectivity.  You can specify that the download happens only over a Wi-Fi connection to save your data plan.  It is available only for Android and iOS apps at the moment.  

IndianwildlifeClub You Tube channel

Press this week

Read details at 

Our choice from Flickr this month

Indian Pitta

Indian pitta in our flickr group

IndianWildlifeClub Flickr page started in 2005.  Over the years it has got 1124 members who have contributed 16.9k photographs.  This is a veritable pool of information for a citizen scientist.  We would welcome analysis of these photographs from a conservation angle by our members.

This month we searched for photographs of Indian Pitta and came up with a random list.   Following the photographs from 2007 till date, we found that this bird is a photographer's delight whether in a jungle or in home gardens.   Just go to and search the photos.  Start asking questions? why?, where?  when?  

The Indian Pitta (Pitta brachyura) is a medium-sized passerine bird. It breeds mainly in the sub-Himalayas and winters in southern India and Sri Lanka. These birds are found in thick undergrowth and are often more easily detected by their calls.

It is an extremely colorful bird with 9 colors on its body (all visible when it spreads its wings). It is found in the undergrowth during the day hopping about.   

See below a list of random photographs taken over the years

Hardik Pala  August 8, 2014   Hingolgadh, Gujarat, India

Abhijit Joshi June 2, 2014  Tadoba (Maharashtra)

amish patel    February 13, 2014  hingolgadh    Rajkot District, Gujarat

Mic Clark    March 17, 2013   Mullur, Kerala
Shivashankar April 6, 2013 in home garden
Nagesh Kamath December 24, 2012  Joladalu, Karnataka
Yogesh Rane   June 3, 2012   Bandhavgarh, M.P
Nagesh Kamath  October 30, 2011  Keerampara, Kerala 
B.N Singh   June 25, 2011    Ranthambhore N.P, Rajasthan

Tarique Sani  May 12, 2011  Moharli, Maharashtra

Maneesh Goal  May 31, 2010  Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve
Santanu Banik    July 10, 2009  Tadoba Andheri Tiger Reserve, India
Amit Mishra  May 12, 2009  Corbett National Park , Uttrakhand
Arpit Deomurari    June 18, 2008  Kutch Gujarat
Amit Mishra     June 2007   Dudhwa National Park -

Though the photographs in our flickr group are mostly from National Parks, the Indian pitta is seen in mini forest areas around Karnataka and Kerala often.  Instances of migrating pittas hitting glass doors of houses and falling dead have also been reported in bird groups.   

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