As many as 149 species of birds were spotted from seven sites by 78 birders at the seventh Kerala Bird Race held in Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday.
The annual event was held from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. in wetlands, forests, and villages in and around Thiruvananthapuram. The total count (149) was lower than the 2012 figure of 157. The count from each site also fell, with a variation of around 10.
The team from Arippa forests sighted 73 species and
the Kallar–Ponmudi team got 70 species which were the highest. As many as 59 species were spotted at Bonacaud, 54 from Kottoor, 48 from Punchakkari, 42 from Akkulam-Veli, and 35 from the city including the zoo premises. The major reason for the fall in the number of birds was due to habitat loss and climate change, Bird Race Coordinator & Senior Education Officer, WWF-India, A.K. Sivakumar said.
The extended rain and hard fluctuations in the temperature may be one of the main reasons for the reduction in the number of migratory birds such as red shank, green shank, golden plover, and black winged stilt, he said.
The reason for decline of waterbirds at the Punchakkari-Vellayani wetlands was habitat loss due to the absence of paddy cultivation which had earlier provided vast areas of mudflat for feeding, birders said. The pollution of the Akkulam and Veli lakes also resulted in less sighting of waterbirds. Poaching was also a major issue at Punchakkari. The team spotted the skinned carcass of an oriental darter, an endangered bird included in the IUCN red list.
The sighting of three black bazas in Kallar forests and tickles blue flycatcher from Kottur forests are very positive, Mr. Sivakumar said.
The zoo compound remains home to birds such as booted eagle and paradise flycatcher, a beautiful migratory bird. The Akkulam-Veli beach was rich with sanderling, lesser sand plover, and watercock. The presence of peacock in Kallar and Bonacaud, birders said, was interesting as it indicated a rise in atmospheric temperature.
Actor Kollam Thulasi inaugurated the valedictory session in the evening where the team members narrated and shared their experiences. Kallarum Kadannu, a travelogue by Serah Mariyam Binny, based on the last bird race and monthly bird walks, was also released at the function. Renjan Mathew Varghese, State Director, WWF-India, attended.
The book Keralathile Sadharana Pakshikal by C. Susanth was given to every participant as a memento.