Technopark and its surrounding areas are a haven for birds

Spread over a few hundred green acres near Kazhakuttom on the outskirts of the city, Technopark has a reputation for being one of the greenest IT parks in India. No wonder that the park and its surrounding areas, especially in the adjacent Karyavattom campus of the University of Kerala and nearby Akkulam lake, are a haven for birds and birders (bird watchers). Currently, its migratory season and the woods, wetlands and lakes in the vicinity are teaming with avifauna.

“Technopark has never been just another concrete jungle. It was conceptualised to look more like a park than an IT park per se and built with the understanding there would be as minimal as possible a disturbance to the local flora and fauna as possible. Even now, approximately 10 per cent of the total acreage has been maintained as green cover. For example, the wooded areas near the Nila building and near the guest house have been left undisturbed. Over the years, wherever it was possible, we have undertaken re-forestry measures too – planting local trees such as mango, jackfruit, cashew and coconut. So I wouldn’t be surprised if there is quite a significant population of flora and fauna in Technopark, although no definitive surveys have been taken,” says K.C. Chandrasekharan Nair, chief financial officer, Technopark.

Kalesh S., a plastic surgeon at the Medical College, and a member of the Travancore Nature History Society, a prominent nature club in the city, that has conducted several bird surveys in the area, opines: “In and around Technopark there are still small but significant relics of ancient coastal forests that are home to a variety of flora and fauna.” Ramesh M., a keen birder since his college days at Christian College, Kattakada, who was until recently working with Geotrans Technologies in Technopark, recalls many pleasurable hours spent spotting birds in and around the area. “There are a number of forested hills on Technopark campus from where you can spot a variety of birds. Looking out from my office in Tejaswini building or walking around campus, I’ve spotted birds such as Chestnut-headed bee eater, Brown flycatcher, Blue-tailed bee eater, Brown shirke, Blue tailed bee eater, and so on,” says Ramesh.

Techie Vignesh Menon, who works at Satmetrix Systems in Technopark is also a keen birder and wildlife enthusiast who “enjoys spotting and documenting with photographs” birds and butterflies of the area. “I’ve found Technopark to be a reasonably good place to spot birds, though the bird population there is not as extensive or varied as in nearby Akkulam. I live barely a kilometre from Akkulam, so I get plenty of opportunity to indulge in my passion for bird watching in the area at different times of the day. A few days ago I saw an airborne painted stork through the windows of Tejaswini building. Recently, I also spotted and was able to photograph a Booted eagle over the skies of Technopark. It’s a migratory bird, which is fairly uncommon in the area. At first I mistook it for a common Black kite. I’ve come across Purple sunbirds too,” says Vignesh.

The birders say that the best time to spot migratory birds is from September to the end of February. “At this time, in the marshes and wetlands around Technopark and Akkulam and Veli lakes, one can spot avifauna such as Western marsh-harrier, Osprey, Little ringed plover, Bronze wing jacana, Common redshank, Marsh sandpiper, Common Greenshank, Forest wagtail, Rosy starling, Whiskered tern, Indian pitta, Orange-headed ground thrush, Asian paradise flycatcher, to name a few,” says Kalesh. “The best time is in the morning from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m.,” says Vignesh.

However, all the birders lament that the numbers of both resident birds and migratory birds have “seriously declined”, mostly due to the massive construction activities in the area. “Expansion of Technopark is reportedly on reclaimed paddy fields, which even if they reforest, is a loss of original habitat,” muses Ramesh. Some companies on campus do plant trees and maintain gardens. “The problem then is that landscaped gardens and exotic plants such as euphorbias, pines and cactuses are not native and therefore not friendly to birds and butterflies,” says Kalesh.