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Ducking it

If you are a bird lover and are concerned with the dwindling numbers of our feathered friends in the city, here's some good news! Birders in Bangalore have sighted flocks of Garganey ducks, which have come in from Europe to winter in Bangalore.

“To my utter surprise, I sighted a small flock of Garganeys (Anas querquedula ) this morning at Puttenahalli lake, JP Nagar 7th Phase, near my home. This is the first time I've ever seen Garganeys here. This is good news for the Puttenahalli Neighbourhood Lake Improvement Trust, the local citizen's body that has put in so much effort and personal money into reviving this endangered water body,” said S.K. Srinivas a vendor of scientific instruments and avid birder who first alerted the birding community in the city.

The Puttenahalli lake was on the verge of extinction when a group of concerned citizens got together to revive it.

Arathi Manay, who is the managing trustee of the Puttenahalli Neighbourhood Lake Improvement Trust (PNLIT) along with Usha Rajagopalan, Prasanna Vymathya and O.P. Ramaswamy have worked tirelessly towards its restoration. The Puttenahalli Lake lies between the Brigade Millenium and South City apartment blocks in JP Nagar.

“I am thrilled to see the Garganey ducks on our lake. The first sighting was on November 17 and at last our vision of reviving the lake and making it into a bird sanctuary is coming true,” says Usha Rajagopalan, one of the trustees with great excitement.

“It is keen photographers like S.K. Srinivas, who come here and alert us about the birds which have arrived from foreign shores. Srinivas saw five birds and I saw 14 of them.”

Striking plumage

The Garganey duck is a small bird which is one of the species which come under the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) conservation act. This species is migratory and their breeding habitat is grassland adjacent to shallow marshes and steppe lakes.

The adult male has striking plumage with a dark head, a white crescent over his eyes and a reddish brown face. The rest of the duck is a nondescript grey, but in flight his underbelly is pale with a white border. The male has a distinctive mating call and strangely the female is rather silent, but can manage a feeble quack. The Garganey feeds on aquatic plants, seeds and invertebrates, is secretive about breeding and live to be around 20 to 30 years.

It is in their winter quarters that pair-formation occurs and they lay a clutch of about eight eggs, which take around 25 days to incubate in nests hidden among dense grassy vegetation close to water.

J.M. Garg, a photographer, says: “It was really difficult to get my pictures as these ducks generally don't come near the edge. It's difficult to find the birds and even if you do, capturing them on camera is really difficult.”

“All ducks are difficult to photograph because of their acute eye sight and habitat selection, which is in the centre of a large lake.

“During the day when they sleep in flocks, if even one bird spots us, all of them take to flight,” says Raju Khokle who is a city-based wildlife and nature photographer.


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Printable version | Sep 28, 2021 4:13:45 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/ducking-it/article2674839.ece

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