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Waterfowl census begins

Special Correspondent
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Tirunelveli and Tuticorin gear up for the three-day event

Numbering the flock:Migratory birds at Korampallam near Tuticorin. — Photo: N. Rajesh
Numbering the flock:Migratory birds at Korampallam near Tuticorin. — Photo: N. Rajesh

There is good news for bird watchers as work begins on conducting a bird census in the wetlands of Tirunelveli and Tuticorin districts during the last week of January. The Agasthyamalai Community-based Conservation Centre (ACCC) of Bangalore-based Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE) , along with Pearl City Nature Society (PCNS), have made extensive arrangements for launching a waterfowl count in these districts, situated in a semi-arid region, for three days from January 26.

Tamirabharani, a perennial river, and its tributaries flowing from Agasthyamalai Hills, traverse the two districts for about 175 km making the region not only the ‘rice bowl’ of southern Tamil Nadu but also a prime habitat for waterfowl.

The river is a major source of irrigation in both the districts and the popular Koonthankulam birds’ sanctuary too gets water from the Tamirabharani’s tributary.

According to ACCC’s Coordinator A. Mathivanan, the downstream wetlands support over 60 species of water birds, many of them migratory, while others are found in large numbers in the southern districts. ATREE researchers have monitored about 200 tanks and it was found that there are a number of unexplored heronry in Vaagaikulam, in the district, which needs to be protected.

“Our previous annual waterfowl census in 2011 recorded more than 32,000 birds belonging to 69 species and in 2012, we recorded 36,303 birds belonging to 57 species. The 2011 survey was done for two days in 42 tanks and 2012 survey was done for 4 days in 51 tanks with the help of volunteers including many bird experts. People aged between 18 to 50 years can participate in this census and people not familiar with birds can learn about identification of birds, conservation of wetlands and also have an opportunity to visit these sites,” said Mr. Mathivanan.

Interested people may contact Mr. Mathivanan or his associate Manimutharu at 94880 63750 or 90251 32414 or through mathi@atree.org before January 23.

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