Birds throng Vaduvur, Udhayamarthandam and Point Calimere

This year, the season has started well in advance and 11 species of migratory birds have been spotted in these sanctuaries

After a two-year lull in the wake of Cyclone Gaja that ravaged the Cauvery delta districts, birds have, in good numbers, visited the Vaduvur, Udhayamarthandam and Point Calimere sanctuaries in Tiruvarur and Nagapattinam districts.

“This time the season started well in advance, and we have a lot of birds in Vaduvur, Udhayamarthandam and Point Calimere. The climate is ideal for the birds to congregate for nesting and breeding,” said K. Arivoli, District Forest Officer, Tiruvarur. He said the district witnessed a sharp decrease in the arrival of birds in 2018 and 2019; now the situation had become somewhat normal with the arrival of migratory — from the country and abroad — and local birds.

Mr. Arivoli said 11 species of migratory birds — including Eurasian coot, Eurasian spoonbill, Greater flamingo, Eurasian wigeon, White ibis, Glossy Ibis, Pheasant-tailed jacana, Asian openbill stork, Bar-headed goose and Lesser flamingo — were spotted in these sanctuaries. Besides, there are 33 local species. “The Forest Department is regularly patrolling the areas to prevent poaching. We have also ensured that the birds get adequate prey as it is important for raising their chicks,” he explained.

S. Balachandran, Deputy Director, Bombay Natural History Society, said that unlike Vaduvur and Udhyamarthandam, 90% of the birds that had arrived at Point Calimere were foreign species. “Vaduvur is the place where local birds, including Intermediate egret, White Ibis and Darters, nest in good numbers. Ducks such as Garganey and Northern shoveller, which migrate from the Arctic and subarctic regions, have started arriving at Vaduvur,” he said.

Two waves

The ornithologist, who has been staying at Point Calimere, said there would be two waves of migration; the first wave would normally begin in early October. “But only 25% of the birds of the first wave will stay back, while the rest will leave for other places. For the second wave, Point Calimere is the final destination. But again their stay will depend on the water level in the sanctuary,” Mr. Balachandran said.

About 40 types of shovellers, two types of flamingos, gulls, terns and ducks have arrived at Point Calimere.

Mr. Balachandran said that since there was rain, the mixing of seawater and freshwater would result in a proliferation of prey, and it was an ideal condition for the birds.

Recalling the days when the sky was covered with migratory birds, he said local conditions brought on by climatic changes contributed to the decline in the number.

“When other natural habitats dried up after January, the only habitat for the birds will be a reservoir of salt industry. We must find some way, maybe diverting seawater to the other parts of the swamp, to make it wet throughout the year,” Mr. Balachandran said. “Swamps dried up because they are at the end of the Cauvery delta. We should also revive the old tributaries that brought water to the Vedaranyam swamp. It will be very helpful to restore the habitat,” he said.

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