Comprehensive bird survey held after seven years

A bird survey held in the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary (WWS) has recorded 189 species of birds, including 13 species new to the region.

The survey was organised by the Forest and Wildlife Department after an interval of seven years. The WWS is one of the bird-rich habitats in the entire Western Ghats.

“We recorded nearly 30 individual sightings of White-backed Vultures, four sightings of Red-headed Vultures and two Long-billed Vultures during the survey in the forest ranges of the sanctuary, C. Sasikumar and C.K. Vishnudas, ornithologists who led the survey, told The Hindu on Sunday.

All three are critically endangered birds and the sighting of Long-billed Vulture here was recorded after 20 years, they said. The breeding of White-backed Vulture was found in the Kurichyat forest range of the sanctuary. There were nearly 12 sightings of White-backed Vultures and two of Red-headed Vultures in the last survey held in 2007. The survey this year also recorded 13 species of birds, including five species of eagles and eight wet-land birds that were new to the sanctuary.

A Lesser Grey-headed Fish Eagle seen at Tholpetty was another new sighting, Mr. Vishnudas said.

The survey also recorded 16 species of birds of prey, 11 species of woodpeckers, seven species of pigeons, five species of bulbuls, six species of owls, and seven species of cuckoos.

Nearly 55 birdwatchers from three south Indian states and 55 forest personnel had participated in the three-day survey. The Forest and Wildlife Department had set up 15 camps inside the four forest ranges such as Muthanga, Kurichyat, Bathery, and Tholpetty under the WWS.

Roy P. Thomas, wildlife warden, WWS, coordinated the survey and Ajith K. Raman, A.K. Gopalan, P.P. Valsan, and V. Rajan, Forest Range Officers, assisted.