Andhra Pradesh

Thanks to ‘Gaja’, avians back in their paradise!

Welcome sight: But for the weather system, the number of birds visiting Pulicat lake would have been far less this year, says official.

Welcome sight: But for the weather system, the number of birds visiting Pulicat lake would have been far less this year, says official.   | Photo Credit: K_Ravikumar

Forest Department ropes in SACON to study and suggest ways to improve the ecosystem in Pulicat lake

The cyclonic storm, ‘Gaja,’ which had caused havoc in the neighbouring Tamil Nadu, has proved to be a boon for the migratory birds, which have made it to the Pulicat lake, the second largest brackish water lagoon in the country.

Thanks to the prolonged dry spell, the lake did not attract many winged visitors till last month, disappointing avid bird watchers.

But the cyclone-induced rains in the district, including in the catchment areas of the Kalangi, the Swarnamukhi and the Arani, have brought inflows to the lake near Sullurupeta. As a result, the migratory birds are back in the water body.

But for the weather system, the number of migratory birds visiting the brackish water ecosystem would have been far less this year, says Sullurupeta Divisional Forest Officer (Wildlife Management) D. Ravindranth Reddy in a conversation with The Hindu.

Deficit rainfall

There has been a decline in the arrival of migratory birds at the lake of late due to climate change.

This year, the district, on an average, received only 429.8 mm rainfall against the normal of 810.6 mm, leaving a deficit of 47% and delaying the arrival of the avians, which usually starts in the month of September.

Over 1,500 birds, including flamingos, storks and pelicans, have arrived so far this year against more than 8,000 during the last season as the south-west monsoon played truant, he says. The last time the migratory birds arrived in good strength was when Vardha cyclone struck the coast in 2016.

Meanwhile, the Forest Department has roped in Coimbatore-based Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History (SACON) for a detailed study to protect the brackish water ecosystem in the wake of the demands for opening of the sea mouth into the Pulicat Bird Sanctuary by the because of dwindling catch.

The terms of reference include study of the likely impact of the opening of the sea mouth on habitat dynamics, documentation of environment parameters of the lake, assessing bird habitation, bird diversity and bird population trends during the migratory season.

SACON, named after noted ornithologist and located in Annaikatti, has also been asked to study the lake’s catchment areas and come out with recommendations to improve them. The Fisheries Department has released ₹31.45 lakh for the study.

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Printable version | Feb 19, 2020 11:11:18 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/thanks-to-gaja-avians-back-in-their-paradise/article25644394.ece

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