KARAIKAL: Unseasonal rains this year brought much pain to farmers, wreaking havoc on crops. However, they have brought about a welcome increase in arrival of birds at Kodiyakarai.
After the conclusion of the two-day annual bird census at Point Calimere Wildlife and Birds Sanctuary in Kodiyakarai on Thursday, experts said the recorded number of birds this year was nine times the count last year. Around 56,800 birds in 118 species were recorded this year compared to 6,243 birds in 91 species in 2020.
"The main reason for this huge jump is the availability of water in and around the sanctuary due to the extended monsoon. Soil fertility and nutrition have increased over the past couple of years. The pH, temperature and salinity have become favourable for attracting birds. Water birds wander in constant search for waterbodies to locate prey," said assistant professor J Pandiyan, a wildlife biologist from AVC Autonomous College in Mayiladuthurai.
Around 5,993 water birds in 56 species and 250 terrestrial birds in 35 species were recorded at the end of the census in Kodiyakarai in 2020. Making a huge difference, as many as 54,647 water birds across 79 species and 2,153 terrestrial birds across 39 species were recorded in 2021.
The most counted species -- Little Stint -- stood at 800 in 2020. The count in 2021 stood at 19,960, which is nearly 25 times higher than last year. Northern Pintail count was 508 in 2020 and 7,094 in 2021. Dunlin count stood at 5,456, and Painted Stork, 3,851. The rise in arrival of terrestrial birds at the sanctuary is not as significant. But, there were some good sightings of rare visitors in December and January.
"We had sightings of Himalayan Griffon Vulture, Amur Falcon and Black-naped Oriole which are very rare," said S Balachandran, ornithologist and Deputy Director of Bombay Natural History Society Centre in Kodiyakarai.
"We have booked over a hundred people for attempting to poach birds, including migratory birds, for meat in the past few months. Half of the cases are under trial. Forest officials and workers have kept a watch on poachers," said S Kalanithi, District Forest Officer in Nagapattinam.