Coimbatore

Dwindling number of migratory birds at Nanjarayan tank worries birders

Bar-headed geese, migratory birds from Russia and Mongolian regions, at the Nanjarayan tank in Tiruppur.

Bar-headed geese, migratory birds from Russia and Mongolian regions, at the Nanjarayan tank in Tiruppur.  

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Some of these birds that visit the tank cannot be found anywhere else in Tiruppur, Coimbatore and Erode districts

As Nanjarayan tank sees the annual visit of migratory birds, nature enthusiasts and bird watchers express concern over the apparent reduction in the number of species of birds over the years.

According to K. Ravindran, president of Nature Society of Tiruppur, a total of 79 species were recorded as on December 31, 2019. “The maximum number of species we have recorded is 147,” he said. Some of these birds that visit the tank, including Bar-headed geese from Russia and Mongolian regions, cannot be found anywhere else in Tiruppur, Coimbatore and Erode districts, Mr. Ravindran claimed.

The 440-acre Nanjarayan tank, which is also known as Sarkar Periyapalayam reservoir, is located in the outskirts of Tiruppur city near Koolipalayam. Mr. Ravindran said that the Public Works Department (PWD) officials carried out desilting works in the tank in 2015 and set up a sewage treatment plant to treat polluted water from River Nallar. These developmental activities led to the depletion of mudflats (sediment deposits) and water pollution in the tank, making it less conducive for the migratory birds. “The Nanjarayan tank is at least 800 years old,” he said, noting that birds have been visiting this tank for centuries.

Duck varieties such as Northern Shovelers, Garganey, Northern Pintails and Common Teal were spotted in December. Other birds spotted at the tank include Marsh Sandpiper, Common Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Kentish Plover, Temminck’s Stints and Black-tailed Godwits, Mr. Ravindran said. The period of visit for the migratory birds is between October and March, with the ‘peak season’ being December to February.

Environmentalist and coordinator of NGO ‘Plastic-Free Tiruppur’ R. Nanthakumar said that the lack of adequate trees around the tank might also be a reason for the dip in the number of migratory birds. “The seemai karuvelam (Prosopis juliflora) trees around the tank were removed before other trees that were planted could grow,” he said.

When contacted, an official from the Forest Department said that a proposal to convert Nanjarayan tank into a bird conservation reserve was sent to the State government. “We are awaiting the consideration and allocation of funds from the government,” the official said. The forest official added that the Forest Department will officially enumerate the number of birds in Nanjarayan tank by the end of January.

Regarding the sewage treatment plant, a PWD official said that the plant has a capacity of 1.5 MLD (millions of litre per day) and it is yet to become operational. “We have written to the State government asking for funds for its operation,” the PWD official said.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2020 1:05:14 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Coimbatore/dwindling-number-of-migratory-birds-at-nanjarayan-tank-worries-birders/article30527390.ece

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