The Perumbakkam-Sholinganallur marsh is thriving — as is evident from the presence of birds such as the comb duck

The comb duck is found across India. Its wide distribution is evident from the fact that almost every Indian language has a name for this large-sized bird — it is ‘nakta' in Hindi, ‘juttu chiluwa' in Telugu, and ‘mookan thara' in Tamil, which refers to the protrusion on the male's bill.

Found in marshes that have plenty of water and are rich in reeds and floating vegetation, this squat bird is considered a barometer of a marsh's health. Naturalist K.V.R.K. Thirunaranan, who studies the small spit of wetland in Perumbakkam-Sholinganallur due to its proximity and importance to the Pallikaranai marsh, was excited to discover a couple of comb ducks there.

“Their presence proves the quality of the rain-fed Perumbakkam-Sholinganallur marsh. Such discoveries are a call to protect this wetland, through which freshwater flows into the Pallikaranai marsh.

“Just imagine the biodiversity of the Pallikaranai marsh, which is fed with seawater through the Okkiyam-Thoraipakkam canal and with freshwater through sources such as this small-sized wetland,” says Thirunaranan.

A feeding habitat

Rainwater from the Perumbakkam hill flow into this marsh, which is located opposite the Sholinganallur IT/ITES Special Economic Zone. “With a profusion of floating vegetation, this marsh serves as a feeding habitat for numerous birds of the Pallikaranai marsh. Around 60 per cent of the birds of Pallikaranai are found foraging for food in this wetland,” he explains.

“The health of the Pallikaranai marsh is contingent on the status of the wetlands — such as this one — found in its vicinity.”

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MetroplusJune 28, 2012