The secluded islet on the Kabani River at Panamaram near Mananthavadi in Wayanad district once again draws the attention of the ornithologists and bird watchers in the State after the islet has been identified as the first breeding centre of the cattle egret ( Bubulcus ibis) in the State after 62 years .
The breeding of the cattle egret in the State had been reported earlier in 1948 by a notable ornithologist Induchoodan (Prof. K.K. Neelakandan) at Kunissery in Pakklakkad district, but after that the breeding of the bird in the State was not reported so far, C.K.Vishnudas, a bird watcher told The Hindu on Sunday .
A team of bird watchers including P.K Uthaman, C.K Vishnudas, N.R.Anoop, Mr. Ratnakar, P.A Vinayan and Mr. Jose Mathew had visited the heronry recently and observed the breeding of cattle egrets.
Mr. Jose Mathew said that he observed the six nests of cattle egret a few days ago, including three cattle egret with their nestlings and some other birds of the same species were incubating on the nests.
Mr. Vishnu said that though they had observed two cattle egrets in its breeding plumage in the heronry during their annual heronry count last two years, no active breeding was observed in those years.
Cattle egret, the name derived from its behaviour of following cattle to feed on the insects and small vertebrate prey on and around cattle, is one of the most common and abundant heron( Family Ardedae) of south India. It has a wide spread global distribution, span over tropics, subtropics and warm temperate zones.
This beautiful white bird adorned with golden buff plumes during breeding season appearing in a totally different look. In many parts of India its breeding starts with the onset of monsoon. Mr. Vishnudas said.
It breeds along with other members of the heron family, Pond heron (Ardeola grayii), Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax), Purple Heron(Ardea purpurea) and Egrets such as Little Egret(Egretta garzetta) and Median egret(Ardea intermedia)in the heronry .
Apart form the cattle egret nests the team observed as many as 50 nests of pond heron, 30 nests of night heron as well as median egrets and four nests of purple heron. More than 200 white ibises(Threskiornis aethiopica), have also been arrived in the heronry and its surroundings for roost . Last two years, nearly 20 nests of white Ibises, a globally threatened species, had also been sighted here.
The breeding centre of white ibis in the heronry was first identified by Manoj Balakrishnan, wildlife assistant, Parambikkulam Wildlife Sanctuary, in 2003.