CHENNAI: The first phase of Tamil Nadu State Synchronised Bird Census got underway on Friday with over 600 volunteers assisting the forest department in the estimation of coastal and migratory birds.
The two-day exercise is being conducted simultaneously in 14 coastal wetlands, bird sanctuaries and important bird areas, including Pulicat bird sanctuary and Pallikaranai marshland. The newly-declared Kaliveli bird sanctuary and the contiguous Edayanthattu and Thaenpaakam saltpans are also among the areas where the census is being conducted.
The mudflats, swamp and saltpans in Point Calimere Birds Sanctuary in Nagapattinam are expected to throw some staggering numbers, field experts say. Chief Wildlife Warden Shekhar Kumar Niraj, who is headed to Point Calimere to join the census on Saturday, told TNIE the objective of synchronised census was to obtain baseline data on the approximate waterbird population of TN. This will help in comparing population trends of over the years.
After the first phase, focus would shift to inland wetlands, which will be conducted a week later. The third and the final phase will focus on census of terrestrial birds in inland conservation areas, such as the five tiger reserves, national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.
Migratory birds from the Arctic breeding grounds and other temperate regions of northern high latitudes migrate southward to wetlands located in tropical countries including India, to escape the northern winter. These birds annually spent only 25 per cent of their time at their place of origin and 40 per cent at their wintering sites (where they spend the winter).
Niraj said as January is the peak wintering month when most of the migratory birds settle at their wintering destination, the waterbird counts are carried out worldwide. The Asian waterfowl census is held every year during the second-to-third week of January all over Asia. “Hence, the bird population estimation was planned in TN to synchronise with the waterfowl census,” he said.