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Migratory birds find a haven at Panamaram

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Temporary home: Some migratory birds at an islet in Kabani
Temporary home: Some migratory birds at an islet in Kabani

E.M. Manoj

KALPETTA: Migratory birds have found a haven in a secluded islet on the Kabani and adjacent ponds at Panamaram in Wayanad district.

At the onset of monsoon, flocks of birds reach the bamboo grove on the islet and the riverbanks. It is an exciting scene, especially at dawn and dusk when exquisite birds of varied plumage frolic there.

Among them are white ibises, little cormorants and little and median egrets. White ibises and painted storks, a new arrival, are the centre of attraction now.

Usually, median egrets are the first visitors, says Jose Mathew, teacher at St. Catherine’s Higher Secondary School, Payyampally, and wildlife videographer.

Little and large egrets, purple moorhens, whistling teels, night and pond herons, little and large cormorants and finally the white ibises follow, he says.

The beautiful purple moorhens are seen throughout the year in the nearby shallow waters, P.A. Vinayan, birdwatcher, says.

The birds lay eggs on the bamboo groves. They return with the chicks in October, but this year, most newly hatched white ibises have not returned with their parents as usual, Mr. Mathew says.

He said Manoj Balakrishnan, wildlife assistant, Parambikkulam Wildlife Sanctuary, first identified this breeding centre of white ibises (Threskiornis aethiopica) in 2004.

Seventeen nests were sighted that year, but in the following year, there were no sightings. Again in 2006, six nests were spotted. Nineteen nests were seen in 2007 and 36 this year, Mr. Mathew says.

Breeding of white ibises was recorded at Kumarakom recently, Mr. Balakrishnan told The Hindu on Monday. The breeding centre at Panamaram is a favourite habitat of very rare birds in South India and it must be protected, he added.

Mr. Mathew says the Forest Department has not identified the sensitivity of this breeding centre.

The sand-mining mafia hunts the birds with country guns and catapults, birdwatchers in the locality say. The excessive use of pesticides in plantain farms nearby is another threat.

Year after year, new species of birds arrive here. The Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary near Mysore in Karnataka and the natural habitat are believed to be the reasons for these birds to fly in here.

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