Migratory birds extend their stay

G. Venkataramana Rao
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Black-Tailed Godwit has overstayed for three months in Kolleru Lake

Extended visa: The Black-Tailed Godwit, a wader, that breeds in Iceland at the Kolleru Lake in Krishna District.
Extended visa: The Black-Tailed Godwit, a wader, that breeds in Iceland at the Kolleru Lake in Krishna District.

Disappearing for over a decade the Grey Pelican that was the main attraction of Kolleru Lake reappeared at Atapaka, on the outskirts of this town in 2005. The Forest Department officials recorded 350 Grey Pelican nests that year. After the breeding seasons of six months the birds left for staging (feeding, resting) up-country. The Forest Department Officials were worried about their return the following season.

Following heavy flooding of areas surrounding the lake in 2003-04 the State Government took a decision to demolish fish tanks that had mushroomed in the lake to make channels for the water to drain out into the sea during rainy season in a drive that was given the catchy name “Operation Kolleru”.

As if they got a cue from some source the Pelicans returned to the lake the season after Operation Kolleru was taken up.

The Lake is a notified Sanctuary and a Ramsar site. Every year the Pelicans have been returning in the season. But in the past couple of years there has been a subtle change in the behaviour of the birds.

While a lot of them are going away at the end of the breeding season an equal number of them are staying back. Now, Pelicans can be seen in the Lake all through the year, says P. Gracious, an authority on the birds of Kolleru and former Assistant Conservator of Forests.

Pittala dondi

The birds have made a 30-acre stretch of the Lake between Atapaka in Krishna District and Komatilanka in West Godavari Districts called the “pittala dondi” their home. While a third of the lake is in Krishna district the larger part of it is in West Godavari.

The Black-Tailed Godwit, a wader, that breeds in Iceland and eastern part of Russia and Central Asia also visits the Lake in November to feed and rest and leaves without fail in February.

This year, however, the Godwits overstayed for three months. Mr Gracious said that he photographed a flock of them on May 13.

The Kolleru Lake is an important wetland of the Central Asian Flyway. As many as 257 water birds have been recorded in the country and 81 of them are migratory.

  • Pelicans can now be seen all through the year
  • The lake is a notified sanctuary and a Ramsar site

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