Green Defenders

Arrival of avian friends

Prajakta Hushangabadkar

In  winter season we sight a few uncommon birds around us -Black-Red Start,  green bee eater ,ashy crown sparrow, lark and water birds like wagtail, Bar headed Goose,Comb Duck, Black Stork, Demoiselle Crane, Common Crane, Spot bill duck,Mallard, Shoveller,  Red crested Pochard,Common Pochard, Cotton teal ,Gulls, Pintail, Spoonbill, and many more. Thesebirds are not seen throughout the year as they come from different parts of the world like Russia, Mongolia, or they do migrate from within country from high altitude area like Leh - Ladakh .  The best place to see the migratory water birds  is certain water bodies  and grassland near to the riverine  areas. Ducks and geese come in large flocks.There are certain places close to Amravati where avian friends do visit in  winter every year and it’s a  feast for birders to observe the activity of migratory birds.

Black Stork

This year also the beautifulwinter visitors have  arrived;  few of them are local winter migratory  like wagtail and ruddy shelduck.  Ruddy shelduck do breed in Ladakh .  Few others have come from across  Russia and Mongolia, for example, bar headedgeese do come from Mongolia.  Researchstudy on migratory birds shows some amazing facts, bar headed geese (“raajhans“in Marathi) come from Mongolia. They were first sighted in 2009 by Mr.TarunBalpande  near to Nagpur.  Bar headed geese had been collared in Mongoliato understand   the migration of these species by the WildlifeConservation Society of Mongolia –by a team led by  Martin Gilbert.   Theycollared adult females with yellow collard “NU”.  These  yellow collared bar headed geese adult femaleswere first sighted by the team of Mr.Tarun Balpande .  They sighted this same adult female withcollar every year on the same place of first sighting.  This is the fourth year when they sighted thisfemale at same place. It almost   covers 4800 km distance to reach this placefrom Mongolia .   It shows that migratorybirds can  visit same place for manyyears regularly.

Black winged Stilts

Bird migration still remains a mystery,there are so many amazing facts related to migration of birds.  Just before the migration,  birds start deposition of fat in their body.  When this fat reaches to  certain level ,  birds begins  to migrate, this phase is called  zugunrunhe in biological term.  Ducks do fly in “v” shape formation to save energy.  They use some flying zones as they know where to migrate, when to migrate, how to migrate.  Few of them cross Himalayas as well.  Global warming  also affect the numbers of migratory visitors.  This year the birds reached  Amravati a  little late .

Painted Stork

Water bodies and surroundinghabitat is lifeline for this birds.  Itis sad that they are being polluted due to many reasons.  Not only water bodies but surrounding habitatgrassland, marsh etc, are being affected. All migratory water birds are not dependent  on water bodies for their food, few of themalso  feed on grass seeds, insects etc.there are any number of  reasons  responsible for the destruction of theirnatural habitat viz. Fishing, idol immersion during durga puja and ganeshpujan, illegal grazing on grassland nearer to riverine areas are some ofthem.   Also Poisonous traps used for fishing and hunting.   

Poison crystals and a dead fish 

We just sighted poisonous trap at a lake near to Amravati, we saw some fish covered with the poisonous crystals; we collected  all the dead fish we could find,  but unknowingly  few of them were left and one great egret died due to eating  poisoned fish.  We again saw net bird traps near to same lake after few days.  There is need to protect certain places by forest department.  Disturbance by the so called nature lover, tourist who often visit those places for entertainment and throw garbage and waste in to water bodies, also needs to be mentioned here.

Dead egret

Due to loss of habitat, pink headed duck become extinct. ThePink-headed Duck (Rhodonessacaryophyllacea)  that was once foundi n parts of the Gangetic plains of India, Bangladesh and in the riverine swamps of Myanmar is feared to have gone extinct since the 1950s.   Numerous searches have failed to provide any proof of continued existence.   It has been suggested that it may have happened due to continuous destruction of habitat.   It also suggests the need for conservation of water birds species.

The Migration of birds to a certain place signifies the health of the habitat and it improves the richness i  biodiversity too.  For the c onservation of biodiversity of this area we need to pay attention to the conservation of these water bodies. After that we have very common quote in Hindi“ atithi devo bhav “ which means  “try to give comfort to guests”-please include your avian guests too in the term.  We wish these beautiful avian friends do visit us every year and make that habitat more graceful with their presence.

(Text and photographs by Prajakta Hushangabadkar)

Green Defenders

Rescue of Barn Owl

Prajakta Hushangabdkar

Barn Owl rescue at Amravati- camp road, lateevening 7.15pm, on date of 3rd February 2012.   Team member Adwait Keole of ANT program, founda Barn Owl on the road side and the Owl was not able to fly. He took the owl toa veterinary hospital for treatment.  Afterthe primary observations doctors said it was suffering from an internal injury.The owlflew away after treatment ofits wound.

The Barn Owl is a large and powerful bird.  The Barn Owl has a wingspan of 107centimetres                     (42 inches).  It is a pale, long-winged, long-legged owlwith a short squarish tail. Tail shape is a way of distinguishing the Barn Owl  when seen in flight, as are the waveringmotions and the open dangling feathered legs. The light face with its heartshape and the black eyes give the flying bird an odd and startling appearance,like a flat mask with oversized oblique black eye slits, the ridge of feathersabove the bill somewhat resembling a nose. It mainly feeds on small mammals rat,mice and hares.Mostly sighted nearold constructions and grain storage areas. Protected in the Indian wildlifeprotection act 1972.

Major threats:  

1.     People used to hunt them for feathers. 

2.     They have huge demand in black market since some orthodox people believethat they show hidden gold.

Like most animals that were in abundance in theirnatural habitat, man has through irresponsible hunting and careless use oftheir environment been responsible for placing this species, like so manyothers onto the endangered list.


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