126 and counting...

Black-headed Ibis

Black-headed Ibis   | Photo Credit: Kishore Kumaran S

The Coimbatore Nature Society recorded 126 bird species in 22 wetlands during the Asian Waterfowl Census

The recently concluded Asian Waterfowl Census (AWC) in Coimbatore has revealed that one of the major threats facing wetlands and the birds in and around it, is unscientific de-silting methods. The Coimbatore Nature Society team led by its founder Selvaraj PR, along with Prakash G, Balaji PB, Sravan Kumar K, Kishore Kumaran S, Chetan H Joshi, Satish K, Sahithya Selvaraj and Pavendhan participated in the AWC in 22 wetlands. They recorded 126 bird species and a total bird count of 6620. After the Census, CNS members also took part in a synchronised wetland census conducted by the Tamil Nadu Forest Department in February that covered 29 wetlands.

Selvaraj says the number of birds have come down over the years. (CNS has been a part of the AWC for the last five years). He says what is urgently required is a scientific approach to de-silting the tanks combined with traditional wisdom. Ukkulam and Semmedu recorded a decline in bird population. “Indiscriminate use of earth-movers have wiped out native vegetation in a number wetlands like Sottaiyandikuttai (Perur Puttuvikki), Perur Sundakamuthur and Vedapatti, Kolarampathy. Raised bunds affected the inflow and outflow of water and lakes like Singanallur showed an increase in water level that also affected bird life,” he explains.

Rapid urbanisation, poaching activities, rampant fishing activities and invasive vegetation (for example parthenium) add to the problem. “Native shrubs must be protected. They provide a green cover around the wetlands and this saves water,”says Prakash. G of CNS. “The butterfly population has come down drastically in Vedapatti Lake because of indiscriminate clearing of vegetation around it. There is also a fall in the number of migratory waders. Birds like Sandpipers and Plovers have almost vanished,” says Prakash. Achankulam, Perur and Krishnampathy and Kannampalayam are facing these threats in no small measure.

Hotspot of birds

Ukkadam Lake

Eurasian Spoonbill and Black-winged Stilt

Eurasian Spoonbill and Black-winged Stilt   | Photo Credit: Kishore Kumaran S

The rarely spotted shorebird, the Green-winged Teal, showed up and surprised the birders. They spotted the Black-tailed Godwit, Black-winged Stilts (over 500 individuals), and Northern Shovellers (over 500)

The contaminated water in the lake attracts waders. The garbage thrown by households nearby breeds worms which attracts the birds.

This year, Ukkadam Lake attracted hundreds of Little Stints (waders) and Barn Swallows, besides a number of resident birds. The threat comes from plastic litter and liquor bottles.


Greater Spotted Eagle

Greater Spotted Eagle   | Photo Credit: Kishore Kumaran S

Achankulam located near Sulur has recorded 35 species (the highest). The lake surrounded by farm lands attracts migratory birds. The CNS team spotted the rarely seen Woolly-necked Stork and migratory birds of prey like Greater Spotted Eagle that comes all the way from Mongolia, and the Western Marsh Harrier from Eurasia.


Yellow Bittern

Yellow Bittern   | Photo Credit: Balaji P B

Located near TNAU’s Sugarcane Breeding Institute, this lake is covered with bamboo thickets on one side. It shelters the lake and also attracts birds. Most part of the lake is covered with water hyacinths and the lake is not easily accessible. The local migrant, the Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher, a beautiful bird in pink, yellow and blue colours is often spotted here. An ideal habitat for the bird is running water, mostly in the jungles. The elusive Cinnamon Bittern have also been seen here. The Yellow Bittern, the Citrin Wagtail, (a rare visitor from Europe) and the Water Cock are some of the other rarely-spotted winged visitors here.

Walayar Lake

Small Pranticole

Small Pranticole   | Photo Credit: Kishore Kumaran S

The Bar-headed Goose, a non-stop flyer from Europe to The Himalayas, stopped by. Birders spotted two individual birds there. It is the only bird that can fly over The Himalayas. It lands on the foothill of the Himalayas and disperses across India.

Hundreds of Small Pranticole were also spotted here along with the Siberian Stonechat, a migratory, ground-dwelling bird from Siberia. The Walayar Lake is less polluted and more mindfully looked after by the people living around it.

A rare treat

Eurasian Wigeon, Temmink’s Stint, Bar-headed Goose, Northern Shoveller, Small Pratincole, Citrine Wagtail, White Wagtail, Greater Spotted Eagle, Western Marsh Harrier, Woolly-necked Stork, Black-tailed Godwit, Geen-winged Teal, Siberian Stonechat, Short-toed Lark, Lesser Sand Plover, Cinnamon Bittern and Yellow Bittern.

The Asian Waterbird Census

The Asian Waterbird Census (AWC) is an international programme that was started in the year 1987 monitors the status of waterbirds and wetlands. The census is carried out in January (the non-breeding period of most species) as a voluntary activity at the national and local level. The main objective is to obtain annual information of waterbird populations at wetlands in the region, the status of wetlands, and encourage interest in waterbirds and wetlands among the public and thereby promote conservation.

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Printable version | Feb 19, 2020 10:01:13 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/the-coimbatore-nature-society-recorded-126-bird-species-in-22-wetlands-during-the-asian-waterfowl-census/article22797680.ece

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