As many as 130 species of birds were spotted by teams of bird lovers in a day-long ‘race’ held in Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam.

The exercise was held as part of the HSBC India Bird Race organised by KeralaBirder, a bird lovers group on the Internet. In Thiruvananthapuram, the race was organised by the green groups ‘Warblers and Waders’ and ‘Thanal.’ The race was also held in Kottayam, Thrissur, Malappuram and Kozhikode on Sunday.

The highest number of bird species — 92 — were spotted from the wetlands of Punchakkari and Vellayani near Thiruvananthapuram. The ‘bird of the day’ — the greater spotted eagle, a migratory bird — was sighted in this area as was the Black-crested Baza (Karimthoppi Parunthu). While 68 species of birds were spotted in Kakkamoola, 62 species were spotted in Arippa in the Kollam-Thiruvananthapuram border area.

Fifty-four species of birds were spotted in and around the Museum complex in the city. C. Susanth of Warblers and Waders told The Hindu here that the sighting of so many birds in wetlands underlined the need to conserve these areas. “It is not common to sight the greater spotted eagle in Thiruvananthapuram. Many migratory birds were spotted during the race today. This shows that wetlands are crucial to the survival of a large number of birds,” he said. The lower-than-expected number of sightings in the Kallar-Ponmudi belt needs to be investigated further. This could be due to some climatic change or damage to the environment, he added.

After the race, the bird lovers — about 80 of them, grouped into a dozen teams — got together at a city hotel to share their experiences. The prize for the best team was given to the group that went to the Vellayani-Punchakari areas. The chief guest on the occasion was poet Sugathakumari.