Drought drives birds to take flight

DECCAN CHRONICLE , Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Correspondent :

Chennai: Ornithologists and bird trackers foresee severe drought for Tamil Nadu in the coming months, as there are visible changes in the migratory pattern of birds visiting Tamil Nadu. A section of migratory ducks has left Tamil Nadu earlier this year and painted stork has not nested in wetlands in Tirunelveli.

Migratory ducks including Shovellers and Pintails have also started leaving wetlands in northern and southern Tamil Nadu that are now dry. The sighting of big predator birds like eagle, falcon and kite has gone up this season in Tirunelveli, said Bal Pandi, a seasoned bird tracker in the Koonthankulam bird sanctuary. Due to water paucity, the paddy yield has reduced and this has also affected the migration of small birds and even the long distance migrant bar-headed goose arrival has decreased this season with less than 4,000 birds being counted, he said.

Due to the current drought, there is a congregation of migratory birds even in puddles of water pointing out that the sprawling water bodies in TN are now dry by the mid of February.

The migratory pattern of ducks and waders has also slumped this season due to deficit monsoon, admits biologist P. Jeganathan, who nurtures budding bird watchers in TN through online E-bird portal.

Bird migration and the climate change go hand in hand and there is a need for more long-term research and documentations, he said. When asked about the sighting of more predatory birds this year, he said bird trackers look up to the sky when there are no birds in wetlands and lakes and now with the onset of monsoon, the clear blue sky increases the sightings of these raptors, he explained.

However, bird watchers are still amazed and enthused as migratory wetland birds are now replaced by the predatory birds like a falcon, harrier, black shouldered and brahminy kites.

“Koonthankulam has never let a bird watcher down and despite all the water bodies turning dry the sanctuary is now engaging raptors and we are able to record close to 120 and the adjacent Vijayanarayana lake is now a transitional home for 150 Amur falcon”, beams K. V. R. K. Thirunaranan, founder, The Nature Trust.

“I have heard of raptor specialists talking about how a dry river bed will be a hunting ground for big birds and this is now happening across dry wetlands”, he said adding grey-necked bunting was another new pleasant surprise this year in Koonthankulam.

SOURCE : http://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/in-other-news/220217/drought-drives-birds-to-take-flight.html

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