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Bird survey bares issues of concern

Annual waterfowl census held in six wetlands in Kollam district

February 01, 2015 12:00 am | Updated 05:50 am IST - KOLLAM:

Green shank and (right) northern pintail spotted during the survey in Kollam wetlands.

Green shank and (right) northern pintail spotted during the survey in Kollam wetlands.

The annual Asian Waterfowl Census (AWC) held in six select wetlands last Saturday in Kollam has revealed matters of concern and elation for birdwatchers.

While the waterbird population was a cause for excitement, questions have been raised about the conservation of the traditional wetland habitats of such birds.

The census was carried out in association with the WWF-India and the Social Forestry Division of the Forest Department.

The wetlands covered are Kandachira - Sakthikulangara harbour, Pallikkodi -Neendakara harbour, Thodiyur - Vattakkayal - Vellanathuruthu, Chittumala - Karali marshes, Polachira, and Kappil beach. The highest count was from Polachira, near Chathannur, from where around 3,500 birds were counted. Among them were five types of wild ducks, namely lesser whistling ducks, pigmy cotton goose, garganey ducks, spot billed ducks, and northern pintails, the latter three being migratory. The Neendakara harbour and Pallikkodi wetlands stood second with a count of around 1,500 birds, of which the majority were little egrets. Migratory birds such as painted stork, greater sand plover, lesser sand plover, grey plover, green shank, green sandpiper, brown headed gulls, and whiskered terns were sighted at Thodiyur - Vattakkayal and on the Vellanathuruthu beach.

Though Kandachira is a habitat for a number of black-tailed godwits, this year only one bird was sighted. But plenty of other migratory birds were observed there. The count of swimming birds preferring deeper waters such as ducks and cormorants was high. But the count at the Karali marshes, once a haven for water birds, was a disappointment. The wetlands, which used to shelter more than 5,000 purple swamphens, is now home to only few. What used to be a shallow wetland is now a deep lake due to sand-mining. The Polachira wetlands seem comparatively less disturbed. 

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