DEHRADUN: The effects of global warming on weather patterns are becoming increasingly apparent in both human and avian populations. Changes in climate has also exerted a significant influence on the migratory habits of birds. This could account for the early arrival of the painted stork at the Conservation Reserve Asan Wetland in the Dehradun district of Uttarakhand, where it traditionally establishes a temporary habitat.
According to wildlife sources in Dakpathar, thousands of migratory birds, including Painted Stork, travel to Uttarakhand’s first Ramsar site, Asan Wetland, from various countries in Europe, as well as Iran, Afghanistan, Russia, Siberia, and the high Himalayan regions of India. This year, the painted stork arrived here earlier than usual. Bird experts attribute this early arrival to the changing weather patterns.
Pradeep Saxena, a forester and bird expert with the Uttarakhand Forest Department, shared the remarkable phenomenon of migratory birds gathering at the Asan Wetland long before the arrival of the Painted Stork.
Saxena explained, “Thousands of migratory birds from different countries and the high Himalayan regions of India visit Uttarakhand’s first Ramsar site, Asan Wetland. Their migration typically commences in October, and they return to their native habitats by the end of March.”
Saxena told this newspaper, “This time, a group of 20 to 25 Painted Storks has been spotted at Asan Wetland since November.” The Painted Stork is a species of heron found in the plains of India. This bird resides in areas near rivers, lakes, and shallow waters and migrates for some time for changes in weather, food availability, and breeding.
The migration of the Painted Storks has come as a surprise to wildlife expert Dr. Soumya Prasad and veteran wildlife photographer Satpal Singh Gandhi, who boasts 35 years of experience in the field. Gandhi says, “Weather changes may be responsible for this phenomenon, but it is a matter of serious concern.”
Gandhi, a wildlife photographer, told this daily, “Previous surveys of the bird population and migration patterns in Asan Wetland revealed that painted storks, Pallas’s Fish Eagles, and Rudy Shelducks are regular visitors to the area.” As a result of these findings, Asan Wetland was designated as an Important Bird Area in 2005 and is now part of the protected ‘Asan Conservation Reserve.”
Divisional Forest Officer Mayank Shekhar Jha of Chakrata Forest Division, told, “Painted storks come early. Initially, the possible cause is attributed to the weather, but a comprehensive study will be conducted to understand the reasons behind this.”
‘Study to decide’
The possible cause of the migratory birds arriving sooner than usual is attributed to the weather, but a comprehensive study would be conducted to understand the reasons behind these frequent changes