The census of wetland birds began at the Vellode bird sanctuary in Erode, and lakes/tanks in Coimbatore district on Friday.

The exercise is part of the Asian Water Bird Census conducted by Wetlands International in South Asia from January 14 to 29. It is being coordinated by Bombay Natural History Society in India.

In Coimbatore, Conservator of Forests – Coimbatore Circle, V.T. Kandasamy, and District Forest Officer V. Thirunavukkarasu, have entrusted the work of coordination to Osai, a non-governmental organisation involved in the conservation of nature.

According to K. Kalidasan, president of OSAI, the wetland bird census is on at Ukkadam big tank, Valankulam, Singanallur, Kurichi, Sulur big tank, small tank and Ramachandra tank, Pallapalayam, Kannampalayam, Irugur, Vellalore, Putuvikki, Perur big and small tank, Vedapatti, Narasampathy, Krishnampathy, Sengulam, Muthannankulam, and Selvampathy, from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m.

Mr. Kalidasan said that by ascertaining the types and number of birds, one would be able to know the condition of a waterbody. This would help in planning the conservation strategies for the wetlands.

Organisations involved in the drive are ECO Club of the PSG Group of Educational Institutions, Save Coimbatore Wetlands, Salim Ali Naturalist Forum, Eco Conservation Group, and Wild Wing Society.

C.R. Jayaprakash, a nature enthusiast from the Eco Club of PSG Institutions said: “As a part of the census, I went for a bird count at the Irugur tank. Nearly 75 per cent of the tank surface was covered with water hyacinth and I could spot only very few birds. When I checked the outlet, I was shocked to see the water white in colour and that too covered with foam.”

Egrets, little cormorant, darters or snakebirds were some of the species of birds spotted in large numbers at the Vellode bird sanctuary on Saturday.

Teams of forest personnel watched a significant number of night heron, painted stork, common coot, white breasted kingfisher, common sandpiper, Indian roller and common teal inside the sanctuary which is spread over 77.18 hectares.

“In the previous census, we found 93 species of birds in the sanctuary. Some of them, including painted stork, are migratory birds, while a majority are resident,” Conservator of Forests, Erode circle, D. Arun told The Hindu.

“We will be carrying out the same process on January 22 to ascertain the accuracy of the data collected today,” Mr. Arun said.