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Fastest bird in a frame

Published : Mar 5, 2020, 1:05 am IST
Updated : Mar 5, 2020, 1:05 am IST

Hyderabad birdwatchers had the opportunity of watching the world’s fastest bird, Peregrine Falcon’s hunting dive.

Photo credit: Rajeev Khandelwal
 Photo credit: Rajeev Khandelwal

What started as a drive to clean up for safeguarding birds’ nesting, turned out to be a treasure trove of experience for a community of birdwatchers in the city.

The Hyderabad Birding Pals (HBP) — a birding group — in association with Animal Warriors Conservation Society (AWCS) and Deccan Birders, recently conducted a clean-up drive at Osman Sagar Lake on Sunday.

While on the drive, the birdwatchers spotted the Peregrine Falcon (scientific name, Falco peregrine) — from a distance of mere 20m, no less! Known as the fastest bird in the world, the peregrine can reach over 320 km/hr during its high-speed dive, which is its characteristic hunting stoop. Incidentally, its speed also makes it the fastest member of the animal kingdom. In fact, as per Wikipedia, this bird of prey has the fastest visual processing speed of any animal tested so far, with an ability to register discrete changes up to 129 Hz or cycles per second.

Birdwatchers flock for the show

This is not the first instance that people have spotted the peregrine at the lake, but its proximity to the birdwatchers — from as close as 20 m — is indeed a big deal. In fact, birdwatchers and animal photographers from Mumbai, Bengaluru and other cities in the country have been flocking to capture the peregrine at the lake.

“Then again, it is not only about that the proximity at which we spotted the bird, but also that some of us could capture this magnificent creature in its hunting dive. To begin with, the dive is a rare spectacle for bird watchers, but to capture it on camera is an even rarer phenomenon,” explains Fawaz Syed, an HBP member. Fawaz was one of the lucky birdwatchers who could capture the fastest animal on earth on his lens. “We have shot birds such as lesser kestrel, kestrel, etc., but normally, any bird gets scared and flies away when we get close to it. Surprisingly, this peregrine was unmoved, and the opportunity of clicking the peregrine from just 20m away is an experience beyond words. And that I could capture the bird in my lens will remain an experience I’ll cherish for a long time,” says Fawaz.

Divers’ club

While the city is home to a wide range of bird species, both residents and migrants, Osman Sagar is one of the best hotspots for birds, with over 278 species reported till today.

“Because of the open land adjacent to the lake and trees and bushes, winter migrant birds such as peregrine, which come from Europe, find their feeding here,” explains Rajeev Khandelwal, another HBP member, who claims to have been lucky enough to witness the peregrine’s hunt. “Peregrine is a raptor (bird of prey), which, like other such birds, is attracted by vast open lands. Peregrine typically feeds on bats, parrots, pigeons, etc.”

Then talking about its diving speed — recorded at even 389 per hour — Rajeev tells us how it is not an easy bird to click especially in city limits. “Generally, birdwatchers have to travel to far-off places to click the peregrine, so also it was heaven sent that we could spot it at Osman Sagar. It is almost like a photographers’ trophy,” says Rajeev.

Tags: rajeev khandelwal, animal warriors conservation society