The return of the wings - The New Indian Express

The return of the wings

Published: 02nd October 2013 08:14 AM

Last Updated: 02nd October 2013 08:48 AM

A cluster of seven eggs in a nest. And the delight that it has brought to residents of JP Nagar is inexplicable. For them, it is the joy of maintaining a water body. Fixing bamboo perches here and there for them to coo happily. And their efforts have paid dividends.

Slushy lake beds. Floating and blooming water lilies. The release of 3,000 fingerlings. Lush growth.

Is this the miracle of restoring a lake in Bangalore and then seeing it thrive? The success of local communities in bringing back a variety of winged visitors in its natural ambiance to Puttenahalli Lake at JP Nagar, VII Phase, highlights the necessity and importance of involving people in saving the lakes and tanks of Bangalore.

The Puttenahalli Neighborhood Lake Improvement Trust (PNLIT) has been in the forefront of reviving the Puttenahalli Lake for the last three years along with BBMP, donors and volunteers from their area which houses Brigade Millennium and the L&T South City residential complexes.

For Usha Rajgopalan, PNLIT trustee, it has been joie de vivre seeing the return of the birds, building their nests twig by twig and then laying eggs amidst brimming water and lush growth. "Maintaining our Puttenahalli lake has really been so full of challenges which has taxed, vexed and worried us at times. But it has also sprung many a surprise that has made our hearts sing with joy! Recently, right in the middle of a lush growth we found a nest. The men slowly guided the fibre glass coracle around to give us a glimpse of the contents. The nest contained not one or two but a clutch of seven eggs. This sight alone was enough to encourage us that we were on the right path in making this little lake in our neighbourhood a secure habitat for birds."

The filling up of the lake bed, the hordes of Water Striders skimming the lake waters followed by the frequent sighting of nests with a few eggs has enthused the PNLIT so much that a few days back, they released more than 3000 fingerlings of Glass Carp (which nibbles aquatic weed), Rohu and Katla to attract more number of bird species.

Elaborating on this rejuvenation exercise, Usha added, "We have been cleaning the lake regularly and also removed the alligator weed a few weeks ago. In fact, last week, bamboo poles have been placed at different depths for providing a natural perch for different birds that have been inhabiting our lake recently. The longest pole which was over 11 feet was still not long enough for any of the three deepest places at the lake. We therefore got them planted at shallower points. Now the perches are ready for many species."

Says regular bird watcher, Vishnupriya Hatawar, "Due to the recent rains, the lake has filled up quite a bit, leaving only smaller islands for the birds. I have personally never seen a young one of a Pond Heron up so close... happened to see one meek little heron with its drab mottles and blotches of dirty brown hiding in the weeds between the gate and the island. The purple swamp hens and the dabchicks are not far behind in reproductive success! Some of them have chicks as well! I have managed to see the Pheasant tailed Jacana as well, a beauty of a bird I would say."

Within a span of three years, the PNLIT has managed to bring back not only bird species but also a variety of flora and fauna like butterflies and dragonflies to this small 13.25 acre water body. Taking professional help from different areas like hydraulic experts, bird watchers, butterfly experts, Usha Rajagopalan says their involvement was needed to tackle the problems scientifically and they are now aiming to turn this lake into a bird sanctuary.

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