Asian Waterfowl Census conducted in December, January and February
Kolleru Lake (Wildlife Sanctuary) hosts the largest number of nearly 4,000 Pelicans when compared to different lakes and wetlands in the State. The drinking water tank of Uppalapadu village ranked second with 3,000 pelicans in the Asian Waterfowl Census (AWC) conducted during December, January and February. The enumeration is done by Forest Department personnel, ornithologists and amateur birdwatchers and is consolidated by experts of the Birdwatcher’s Association of Andhra Pradesh.
According to the census, Pulicat Lake, a brackish water lake, registered the largest population of water birds, in the State. While the total population of waterfowls in the State was put at 2,53,917 by the census, the population of water birds in Pulicat Lake was 1,15,966 and at Kolleru it was 67,486. The population of waterfowls at Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary was just 28,943. While Pulicat had a larger number of unidentified ducks and Waders or Shorebirds, Kolleru was visited by large numbers of the migratory waders identified as Blacktailed Godwit and Glossy Ibis. The waterfowl enumerators recorded 45,025 birds that fall under the ducks and geese category at Pulicat. But most of them (45,000) were put under the category of “unidentified ducks” by the enumerators. The number of ducks enumerated at Kolleru this year was just 722 compared to thousands that visit the lake usually. The poor monsoon is being given as the reason for the poor turnout of ducks.
The waders and shorebirds, however, turned up in large numbers in Kolleru. While no Pacific Golden Plovers was recorded at the time of the census done on January 25 and 26, thousands of them descended on Kolleru towards in the first week of March. Birdwatcher’s Association of Andhra Pradesh member and noted ornithologist Humayun Taher said the Golden Plovers that breed in the Tundra need abundant amount of food before they begin the return journey. Though the birds are found more in the water bodies and wetlands near the shore they come to water bodies that are inland, like Kolleru in search of food. “Migratory birds usually gather at a place before undertaking long flights. They may feed in smaller groups, but migrate in large groups,” Mr Taher said.