Fewer migratory birds spotted in TN as water levels in wetlands rise

Phase 2 of synchronised bird census ends; 339 wetlands in 25 districts identified, surveyed

Published: 15th February 2022 07:12 AM  |   Last Updated: 15th February 2022 07:12 AM   |  A+A-

(From left) Thousands of migratory birds at Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary in Kancheepuram district;

Express News Service

CHENNAI: The second phase of the Tamil Nadu synchronised bird census has concluded and a general observation from the field teams is that the number of migratory waterbirds recorded was far fewer than anticipated due to high water levels in most of the wetlands. 

A total of 339 wetlands in 25 districts were identified and surveyed. This comprised of 14 inland waterbird sanctuaries, including the historical Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary. Salem hosts 97 inland wetlands, which is the highest in the State, followed by Chennai with 28 wetlands. 

“The synchronised survey was done to get a roughly accurate estimate on the population of both resident and migratory waterbirds. Due to heavy rains this year, all resident and migratory birds seem to have scattered,” said Chief Wildlife Warden Shekhar Kumar Niraj. 

However, several near-threatened and vulnerable species, recorded under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) categorisation, like Oriental darter were seen in their maximum numbers at Koonthankulam, Vedanthangal and Vaduvoor bird sanctuaries. 

About 20 common pochards, listed under IUCN’s vulnerable category, were seen at a satellite wetland of Koonthankulam. Earlier, this species was seen at Karaivetti bird sanctuary in small numbers. River tern, which is also under the vulnerable category, were spotted at the Anamalai Tiger Reserve, forest officials said. 

Among all the districts, Tirunelveli recorded the highest population of waterbirds with numbers exceeding 33,000 of 41 waterbird species. The other highlights include the sighting of red-headed bunting, a rare passerine migratory species from Central Asia, at Anamalai Tiger Reserve. Distant waders like Pacific golden plover, common redshank, wood sandpiper and marsh sandpiper were recorded in Coimbatore and Tirunelveli districts.


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