KOTTAYAM: In what appears to be a propitious report for the bird lovers, a bird survey conducted in Vembanad Lake region has recorded the highest ever number of birds in the region. In the two day survey, ‘Vembanad Water Bird count-2015’, being conducted under the aegis of Department of Forest and Wildlife and Kottayam Nature Society, spotted a total of 57,828 individual birds of wetland and wetland-dependent varieties belonging to 54 species and 16 families were counted from 10 sites surveyed.
According to Dr. B Sreekumar, coordinator, ‘Vembanad Waterbird Count-2015’, this is for the first time such huge number of birds were being recorded in a survey. “This kind of increase is due to the presence of a huge number of migratory ducks at the Kaippuzha Muttu region, largest being 31232 Northern Pintail Ducks and second largest being 16501 Lesser Whistling Ducks. The prosperous farming in the region has attracted migratory birds to the region, which are predominatly from Siberia, North India and the Himalayas,” he added.
Among the recorded birds, species such as Oriental Darter, Black-headed Ibis are classified ‘near-threatened’ and the raptor, Greater Spotted Eagle is ‘vulnerable’ as per the IUCN Red List. Maximum number of birds were recorded from Kaippuzha Muttu (41185 birds) followed by Nedumudy-Bhoothappandy Kayal (4376) and the lowest count (182 birds) was from KTDC complex. Maximum number of species (excluding unidentified ones) were also recorded from Kaippuzha Muttu (34 species) and the lowest number of species were recorded from Pathiramanal Island.
The survey also stressed the need for regular monitoring in the area especially during the migration season as thousands of birds assemble in the paddy fields and poaching incidents are rampant in the area. The Forest officials destroyed traps set by the poachers from various paddy fields as well. The participants of the survey also sought incentives for the informants about poaching and poachers and on the death of birds.
More than 150 people from various walks of life along with forest department officers participated in the survey that started from the base camp organised at Regional Agricultural Research Station (RARS) Kumarakom. Amith Mallik , field director of Project Tiger, Periyar Tiger Reserve inaugurated the programme. Kottayam Nature Society president Dr. Sreekumar presided over the programme.
Periyar Tiger Reserve deputy director C Babu, Kottayam DFO M S Jayaraman, KTDC Waterscapes DGM K B Selvan and Coconut Lagoon general manager Jeje Aravindan were present. Vembanad Conservation Award 2015 was given to Tree Authority committee member, K Binu, considering his efforts to save a large number of trees at public places. Inauguration was followed by a presentation on the water birds by Prasanth Narayanan and on e-bird programme by Dr. Jinesh.
After a briefing on methodology of bird count, participants were divided into ten groups with a senior bird watcher as the leader to conduct the survey.