This year, the season started well in advance and 11 species of migratory birds have been spotted in these sanctuaries.
After a two-year lull following Cyclone Gaja which ravaged districts of the Cauvery Delta, birds in large numbers visited the sanctuaries of Vaduvur, Udhayamarthandam and Point Calimere in the districts of Tiruvarur and Nagapattinam.
“This time the season started well in advance, and we have a lot of birds in Vaduvur, Udhayamarthandam and Point Calimere. The climate is ideal for the birds to congregate for nesting and breeding, ”said K. Arivoli, district forestry officer, Tiruvarur. He said the district experienced a sharp decrease in bird arrivals in 2018 and 2019; now the situation has become somewhat normal with the arrival of migratory birds – domestic and foreign – and local.
Mr Arivoli said 11 species of migratory birds – including Eurasian coot, white spoonbill, flamingo, American duck, white ibis, shining ibis, pheasant-tailed jacana, the Asian open-billed stork, the round-headed goose and the small flamingo sanctuaries. In addition, there are 33 local species. “The Forestry Department regularly patrols the areas to prevent poaching. We also made sure that the birds had adequate prey as this is important for raising their chicks, ”he explained.
S. Balachandran, deputy director of the Bombay Natural History Society, said that unlike Vaduvur and Udhyamarthandam, 90% of the birds arriving at Point Calimere were alien species. “Vaduvur is where local birds, including intermediate egret, white ibis and darts, nest in good numbers. Ducks like Garganey and Northern Shoveller, which migrate from arctic and subarctic regions, have started arriving in Vaduvur, ”he said.
The ornithologist, who stayed at Point Calimere, said there would be two waves of migration; the first wave would normally start in early October. “But only 25% of the birds from the first wave will stay behind, while the rest will leave for other places. For the second wave, Point Calimere is the final destination. But again, their stay will depend on the level of the water in the sanctuary, ”Mr. Balachandran said.
About 40 types of backhoes, two types of flamingos, gulls, terns and ducks arrived at Point Calimere.
Mr Balachandran said that since there was rain, the mixing of sea water and fresh water would lead to an overgrowth of prey, and this was an ideal condition for the birds.
Recalling the days when the skies were covered with migrating birds, he said local conditions caused by climate change had contributed to the decline in numbers.
“When other natural habitats dry up after January, the only habitat for birds will be a salt industry reservoir. We have to find a way, maybe divert the seawater to other parts of the swamp, to make it wet all year round, ”Balachandran said. “The marshes have dried up because they are at the end of the Cauvery delta. We should also revive the ancient tributaries that brought water to the Vedaranyam swamp. It will be very helpful to restore the habitat, ”he said.