Enumeration Reveals Sharp Fall In Numbers.
Nagapattinam: There has been a sharp decline in the number of migratory birds visting Point Calimere Wildlife and Bird Scantuary. Much to the shock of ornithologists, not one flamingo, a key attraction for tourists, was spotted during the day-long enumeration conducted on January 12 this year.
Ornithologists as well as forest department officials attribute the fall in the number of birds visting the 17.26 sq km sanctuary to flooding of the swamps. While the data collected during the state-wide enumeration excercise is being consolidated, the census at Point Calimere has revealed that just around 60,000 birds wew spotted during the day. Last year, the number of birds spotted during the census was around 95,000. The number of species spotted was only 73 while the sanctuary has been a feeding ground for over 234 species. Among the birds sighted were northern pintail ducks, gulls, terns, and the bar-headed goose.
“We guess that the reason for the decline in bird arrival is the flooded swamps. Water level is the key for the stay of migratory birds,” said S. Balachandran, noted ornithologist and assistant director of Bombay Natural History Society. The Society has a bird study centre in Point Calimere.
District forest officer K Soundarapandian too shared the same view. “Shallow water is ideal for migratory birds to thrive. But we will still investigate if there are other reasons for the decline in the number of birds,” he said.
The stretch of saline swamps and dry evergreen forests along the Palk Strait on the south-eatern tip of Nagapattinam district was declared a sanctuary in 1967, primarily for the conservation of Blackbuck antelope, an endangered species. The abundant availability of shrmps and fish and favourable climatic conditions would attract a large number of birds from Europe, Russia, countries in the middle East, Sri Lanka, Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh between October and March.
“We hope the birds may visit in the next few days. We can wait for another month,” Balachandran said. He pointed out that flamingoes were spotted a month back, though in far lesser number than the previous years. “There were 200-300 flamingoes,” he said.
Point Calimere usually attracts nearly 15,000 flamingoes every season. However, Balachandran said there has been a sharp falll in bird arrivals even in Chilika Lake in Orissa, another heaven for migratory birds, this year.
Courtesy: V Mayilvaganan | Tnn | Times of India