Over 39,000 birds spotted during census

For the first time, flamingos were seen in Gangaikondan tank

Published - February 06, 2019 08:23 am IST - Tirunelveli

 The Greater Flamingoes at Vijayanarayanam Tank in Tirunelveli District.

The Greater Flamingoes at Vijayanarayanam Tank in Tirunelveli District.

Over 39,000 birds belonging to 75 species have been recorded during the recently concluded Tamirabhrani Waterbird Count (TWC).

Since 2011, the TWC is being organised by Bangalore-based Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE) with the participation of local citizen groups in the Tamirabharani river basin to conserve wetlands and waterbirds coming to waterbodies.

The 9th edition of TWC, that concluded on January 29, was organised by ATREE’s Agasthyamalai Community Conservation Centre, Manimutharu, District Science Centre, Tirunelveli, Pearl City Nature Society, Thoothukudi and Nellai Nature Club, Tirunelveli with the coordination of Tamil Nadu Forest Department, Tirunelveli division.

Over 120 volunteers from different backgrounds like students, businessmen, farmers, and teachers participated in the TWC 2019. The census was conducted in 44 irrigation tanks in Tamirabharani river basin - 32 in Tirunelveli district and 12 tanks in Thoothukudi district.

A total of 39,231 birds belonging to 75 species were counted during the census. Of this, 26,465 birds were spotted in tanks of Thoothukudi district and 12,766 birds spotted in tanks of Tirunelveli district. The duck species dominated the census with 20,142 ducks followed by waterhens (4,549) and egrets (3,791) and cormorants (3,142). More number of birds were spotted in Vellur tank 4,433 birds followed by Thenkarai tank (3,420), Caspa (3,410) and Kadambaakulam (3,065).

In terms of bird species richness, Kadambaakulam leads the table with 52 species followed by Arumugamangalam tank with 45 species and Vellur tank with 40 species.

The Northern Pintail Duck which migrates from Northern Europe was the most abundant duck species with 7,340 followed by Lesser Whistling Duck (3,642) and Garganey (3,525). Over 1,500 pintail ducks and 90 Flamingos were seen in the Gangaikondan tank in Tirunelveli district and this is first ever spotting of flamingo recorded in the tank during TWC.

Migratory birds like Northern Pintail, Garganey, Northern Shovellers, Common Teal, Flamingo, Bar-headed Geese, Pintail Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Caspian Tern and Wooly Necked Stork were also spotted during the census.

In all these years, 70% of bird abundance was accounted by tanks in Srivaikundam region namely Kadambaakulam, Vellur, Arumugamangalam, Caspa, ThenkaraiKulam, Perungulam and Puthukkudi Sunai.

“The districts of Tirunelveli and Thoothukudi attract large number of birds because of the perennial river Tamirabharani. These tanks are really important habitat for waterbirds and there is a scope for conserving these wetlands under the provisions of Wildlife and Biological Diversity Acts. More importantly, conservation of these spots or biodiversity heritage sites is more important. We request people around the tank to safeguard their tanks from pollution and encroachment,” said M. Mathivanan, coordinator, TWC 2019.

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