In Tirunelveli and Tuticorin districts by Department of Forests and ATREE

: Here is good news for students and others, particularly those who are very much interested in watching the birds, as a bird census in large scale is going to be conducted in Tirunelveli and Tuticorin districts for the first time during the third week of January.

The Bangalore-based Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE) in association with the Department of Forest's Tirunelveli Division made extensive arrangements for launching a waterfowl count in Tirunelveli and Tuticorin districts on January 21 and 22.

The districts of Tirunelveli and Tuticorin lie in a semi-arid landscape.However, the perennial river of Tamirabharani and its tributaries flowing from the Agasthyamalai Hills and traverses for about 175 km made these two districts the ‘Rice Bowl' of southern Tamil Nadu and being an important shelter for birds, especially waterfowls, in the entire country.

The perpetual river not only supports human population and culture but also a large number of wetland birds as its water is being diverted to hundreds of systemised irrigation tanks in both the districts.

The popular Koonthankulam birds' sanctuary too gets water from the Tamirabharani.

The downstream wetlands support over 60 species of water birds, several of them are migratory while many others are found in large numbers in the southern districts.

The Forest Department has been conducting bird census in selective tanks, which are declared as wetlands but this is not enough given the large number of tanks in the districts as Tirunelveli district alone has 2,449 irrigation tanks, including 921 systemised and 1,528 non-systemised tanks.

ATREE researchers have monitored about 200 tanks and it showed that there are good number of unexplored heronry, like Vaagaikulam, is in the district, which needs to be protected.

Selected volunteers will undergo an orientation programme on January 19 or 20. They may bring their cameras and binoculars for the waterfowl count.

People who are willing to participate may contact Dr. Patrick David (email: Mobile phone: 918144769484) to register their names.