Considerable variation in the number, species and frequency of sighting of birds were noted in almost all the observation sites during the Thiruvananthapuram leg of the Kerala Bird Race 2009.
Climate change, loss of preferred tree species, food availability, habitat degradation, general disturbances, atmospheric pollution… and so on are the reasons for this, according to Coordinator of the Bird Race 2009 & Education Officer, WWF-India, A. K. Sivakumar.
The activity report has pointed out that an in-depth survey and site specific and species specific studies are required to protect the bird population. Potential bird areas need to be protected and the quality of living environment should be ensured for all living beings.
Coordinated by WWF-India, Warblers & Waders and Kerala Birders, the programme was held in six sites in and around the city with the help of 54 birdwatchers ranging from 10 to 70 years.
Peroorkada, Akkulam wetlands, Punchakari paddyfields-Vellayani Lake and surrounding areas, Arippa, Museum-Zoo compound and Kallar-Ponmudy were the bird race sites.
Thirty-four species of birds were reported from Peroorkada and the most surprising element was that the common House Sparrow was not seen. The sightings of Barred Jungle Owlet and Brown Hawk Owl indicate the density of trees. The sightings of four species of water birds shows that the wetland habitat of the area.
It was found that the green lung of the capital —The Museum and Zoo — had considerable bird diversity with 39 species including migratory birds like Forest Wagtail, Little grebe and Brown Fly catcher. Though the area is a typical habitat for House Sparrow, no one was sighted. This shows the decline of this species due to its food availability in city. Oriental Darter, the endangered and red listed snake bird also had a good population.
Akkulam had a good number of birds with 61 species and the sighting of Water cock is significant there. Grey Heron, Black napped oriole and Black Bittern were the important sighting. The reclamation of the lake and pollution brought out serious decline in the number of water birds like cormorants, darters and ducks.
Common Kestrel, Orange Headed thrush and Common Pea fowl were the important sightings from Kallar-Ponmudi. Pea Fowl had been sighted for the first time in Ponmudi and this shows the climate change due to global warming as it is a dry habituate bird.
Vellayani and the paddy fields of Punchakkari had given another new bird to the list of Kerala birds. The Black headed bunting which is quite new to the state has reported from here. This sparrow sized bird is graminivorous and only four were seen. Marsh Harrier, Osprey, Water cock, Pied Crested Cuckoo,
Indian Coot and Common Stone Chat are the other important sightings.
Arippa on the Thiruvananthapuram-Kollam border has come out with important birds like Black Baza, Heart spotted woodpecker, Malabar trogon and Blue throated Fly catcher. The Black headed Bunting from Punchakkari was selected as the Bird of the Day.
Though the sighting of Common Pea fowl, Pied crested cuckoo, Stone chat and Buntings are new to the bird lists and good news for birdwatchers, it clearly indicates the ecological degradation and rising temperature. The increasing temperature and pollution drives certain bird species from here and invites the new ones.
The team Black Baza who had surveyed the area Arippa Forests won the first prize with a sighting of 87 species, the team Osprey who surveyed Punchakkary paddyfields and Vellayani Lake won the second prize with 80 species and the team Honey Buzzard who visited Kallar-Ponmudi area won the third prize with 66 species.
The entire team reported 145 species of birds. The efforts of Unus Kunju, the eldest among the participants, and Kevin. S. Biju, the youngest birdwatcher, had been commended by the jury comprising C. Sushanthkumar and S. Rajeevan of Warblers and Waders.