Punchakkari wetlands playing host to 62 bird species
By Aparna Unni - THIRUVANANTHAPURAM
29th October 2012 10:47 AM
Sixty-two species of birds, including migrants, were spotted by a group of 13 bird-watchers, comprising both freshers and experts, at the Punchakkari wetlands during the Sunday Bird Walk conducted by WWF-India.
Among the migrants spotted were Blue-Tailed Bee-eater, Brown Shrike, Western Marsh Harrier, Green Shank, Pheasant-Tailed Jacana and Ashy Drongo. The point of concern was the marked absence of regulars like the Eurasian Golden Plover, Rosy Ringed Plover and Wood Sandpiper.
“These plovers and sandpipers are migratory water birds which used to come in their thousands to this region a few years ago at the time of paddy harvest to feed on the insects,” said A K Sivakumar, Senior Education Officer at WWF-India. “The paddy fields are being replaced by vegetable cultivation or are being filled in which is causing a great habitat loss.”
As opposed to the “thousands that landed before,” only a lone Spotted Sandpiper was spotted by the group in a small area that had been freshly tilled.
Bird-watcher C Sushant, who heads the city-based Warblers and Waders group, attributes the decrease in number of water birds this year to the reduced rainfall received as well.
“These waders prefer shallow water-logged muddy areas that make it easy for them to wade through for food,” he said, adding that a clear picture of this year’s avian migratory pattern to the Punchakkari wetlands can only be got after the peak season, by January.
However, there was no remarkable decrease in terms of number of bird species sighted so far, according to Sivakumar. Another phenomenon observed by the bird-watchers on Sunday was the increased presence of Common Coots.
“These birds are usually found in dry wetlands, that is wetlands with hot conditions, which Kerala’s wetlands are not,” said Sivakumar. The sighting of a Black-Capped Kingfisher also caused excitement among the group.
“This is a rare bird, which, although having a fairly wide range in Asia, has small numbers,” said Sivakumar. Egrets, Purple Swamphen, Pied Kingfisher, Common Blue Kingfisher, Green Bee-Eater, Little Grebe and Pigmy Cotton Goose were some of the residents spotted.
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