ONGOLE: Two remote villages in Prakasam district have become nesting grounds for migratory birds for the past few years. Villagers of Goutavaram and Madhavaram in Racharla and Tallur mandals have ensured the safety of winged visitors. Come summer, the sky over the two villages and nearby water bodies wear a colourful look with flocks of migratory birds, including painted storks and other stork species and red legged cranes flying from their nesting grounds to water bodies to prey on fish.
The migratory birds go around 30 km radius of Goutavaram to pluck fish in the Cumbum tank and other water bodies and return to their nests by evening. Another flock of the migratory birds, which visits Madhavaram, goes to the Gundlakamma reservoir to hunt fish. Locals call the migratory birds ‘Siberia Kongalu’ and ‘Yerra Kalla Kongalu’.
“Though the migratory birds have been visiting our village for several years, no government official has visited the place to take measures to protect them from poachers. Our village took over the responsibility of protecting the birds,” said S Sivaramakrishna, a local. It is high time the government takes note of the village, which has all attractions to be developed as a tourist spot that birdwatchers can visit, he added. The storks generally arrive in December and stay till July and during this period, they nest and breed. Once the younglings are ready to fly, they go back to Siberia.
Will take steps to protect habitat of birds: DFO
Goutavaram has a large number of big tamarind trees in and around the village. The Siberian birds prefer to build nests on the trees. Villagers consider the arrival of the birds as a good omen. They believe that the birds visit will enhance their harvest.
“We think we are very fortunate having these intercontinental birds come and stay in our village for six months every year. We believe they bring fortune to our village. If they do not come in any year, we face trouble in getting good crop yield. They are like our kids who come every year to wish us well,” S Chinna Ramakotaiah, former sarpanch of Goutavaram told TNIE.
“The birds are our guests and lucky charms. So it is our responsibility to protect them,” said Lakshmi Devi, sarpanch of Goutavaram. In fact, the number of the avian visitors was more a few decades ago, but deforestation over a period of time has reduced the green cover and shrunk the water bodies. If not for the efforts of the villagers, the visit of migratory birds would have been a thing of the past.
When contacted, Markapur DFO Viginesh said he is not aware of the visit of migratory birds to the two Prakasam villages. The DFO said he will get a report on the birds visit and take steps to protect the habitat of the avian guests.