Unseasonable rain does not augur well for birds: expert

The annual midwinter enumeration of wetland birds in Mysore, Mandya and Chamarajanagar districts will commence next week. This will be the 20th annual census of birds and their habitats in the region, making it one of the longest running voluntary initiatives. It is being conducted by Mysore Amateur Naturalists (MAN), a group of ornithologists and bird lovers who have been monitoring the state of the winged beauties in the region for about two decades.

K. Manu of MAN told The Hindu that the results of the census could be expected in February. The data collected would be analysed for factors such as emerging dangers (manmade or natural), degradation of the habitat, encroachment or destruction of water bodies.

In all, 110 to 160 lakes or wetlands in the three districts would be covered. The physical enumeration and field visits may be completed in two weeks. The data tabulation and analysis would start soon after that, said Mr. Manu. Major lakes in the region, including Kaggalipura, Narasambudhi, Kuttur, Kallur, Kesthur, Yellandur, Kukkarhalli, Dalvoy, Karanji and Lingambudhi, would be covered.

“We have been monitoring 160 lakes for the last 20 years, of which 40 have either disappeared, completely dried up or become degraded due to human interference,” said Mr. Manu, who is the recipient of the Santuary-ABN Amro Wildlife Award for his work in the field of environment conservation.

“We had heavy rain in the last week of November and also during December in some parts of the region, as a result of which most lakes have filled up,” according to Mr. Manu. However, the MAN dispelled the notion that unseasonable rain was good, and noted that they did not augur well for all species. Birds were among the worst affected, it said.

A case in point is Varuna lake, which has filled to the brim, as a result of which the waders — long-legged birds such as storks and cranes that live in shallow waters — would find the habitat unsuitable. The waders, in the absence of slush, would migrate in search of more suitable habitats. Similar was the case with Ahalya lake in H.D. Kote, Mr. Manu noted.

He said that unseasonable rain would also affect winter migration of winged beauties to the region. Last year had witnessed a new low in the number of migratory birds coming to Mysore due to heavy and unseasonable rain that lashed the region.

“Only the fish-eating birds may arrive this winter,” Mr. Manu noted.

The winter migratory birds are reckoned to fly across the Himalayas after a brief sojourn en route before entering Karnataka. The region also attracts colourful and exotic birds such as sandpipers, coot, garganey and pin-tailed ducks.



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