BY AUGUSTO RODRIGUES
Plenty of signage; ten kiosks selling paraphernalia related to bird watching; some medicinal plants available for sale; a huge temperature-controlled makeshift auditorium; a mini-kitchen; two parrots on top of a birdcage; and around thirty-odd birdwatchers was the postcard view of the 6th Bird Festival of Goa 2023, organised by the Department of Forest on Saturday.
“I bring my son to Bondla sometimes, but since they were having the bird festival here, I thought it would be something special. And hence we came, but our visit has ended as just another visit to the zoo with nothing special,” stated Manoj from Mardol.
“Since they advertised it was a bird festival, we thought there would be something special related to birds happening that would be new for our son and us,” added Manoj’s wife Shweta.
Apart from the thirty-odd bird watchers strolling from the top of the sanctuary to the bottom, trying to sight and record birds – GT Media could not ascertain whether the group was linked to the festival – the birds caged in the sanctuary could well have been more disturbed with the noise generated by the traffic through the sanctuary and the power generators.
“We didn’t know what to expect, but surely didn’t come here to see nothing. The birds caged in the sanctuary were all the kids could see. We thought there would have been some slideshows or some movies of birds or something relating to birds that would inform us,” said Katie, who came along with her three kids and husband.
“Since we are on our first visit to India, we were hoping to learn something about birds and expected to pick up some information that we could share with our colleagues at home,” added Katie, as she got her daughter ready for a picture amidst the flowers.
The first five editions of the Bird Festival were held in areas in the vicinity of the Western Ghats, with visitors being able to access information through pictures and films created. Birds were crafted, and forest officials used them as models while providing information on their habitat, breeding, eating habits, etc.
“Had this festival not been held in the Bondla zoo, this would have been a waste of money and time. This mess was not expected. Not that the previous Bird Festivals were of a high calibre, but at least there were things for the children to see and learn. There was a workshop for children in one of the exhibitions. Here we can see only kiosks and these flags,” stated Andrew from Raia, who claimed to have attended festivals in the past with the children from his neighbourhood.
“A lot of people have been coming from the day of the opening. They usually go around the zoo. I do not know whether the increase in the number of people is because of the Bird Festival,” stated an attendant of Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary, on condition of anonymity.
Birds could be heard chirping in the enclosures around the sanctuary as they always do.
But as the sun was beginning to set and the sanctuary was being closed, except for the area enclosing the 6th Bird Festival, thoughts ran to the noise the animals and birds would have to put up with as the evening awoke for the musical festival planned at 7 pm, for the guests of the Forest Department.