Winged winter guests flock to Deccan Plateau, Western Ghats

Jan 04, 2012, 07:16 IST | Adnan Attarwala
Migratory birds from Siberia, Europe arrive in large numbers, but environmentalists report 80% fall in arrival of wader birds like dam demoiselle cranes, bar-headed geese

As the winter's chill has presided over the city, winged visitors from Central Asia, West Asia, Siberia, Himalayas and some parts of Europe have arrived in large numbers across the Western Ghats and Deccan Plateau to set up their temporary habitats. 

Annual arrival: Flamingoes have been spotted in the Western Ghats

As the journey of the winter migratory birds usually starts in November and lasts till March, lots of birds have arrived in the city's two main surrounding regions -- Deccan Plateau and Western Ghats. Birds, including pipits, larks and sparrow hawk, are being spotted in Deccan Plateau's grasslands, whereas rosy busters, goshawk, peregrine falcon, pied and yellow wagtails, lesser sand plover, blue-throated warblers have arrived in agricultural fields in the plateau. 

In the Western Ghats, the verditer fly catchers, red breasted canaries, swallows, flamingoes and local migratory birds like painted stork, grey heron and white gloss ibis among others have been spotted by the environmentalists. 

Even though the habitats of several other species, mainly the bar-headed geese and dam demoiselle cranes have been suffering as reported by the experts, the number of other smaller birds arriving in the city has been increasing despite the degrading environmental conditions. "The winter season is harsh in the northern region and since its gets difficult for these birds to find food they come here," said ornithologist Dr Satish Pande. 

Loss of habitat
But on the other hand, the latest findings by the experts have revealed that illegal sand mining activities, wrong crop plantations and other factors across the Deccan Plateau is resulting into the loss of habitat of the two main wader birds -- dam demoiselle cranes and bar-headed geese. 

As per their latest reports there has been almost 80 percent reduction in the numbers of these birds arriving in the city, which is being mainly attributed to changed plantation of crops. Experts say since lentils are being replaced with sugarcane plantation in most parts of the plateau, the birds are changing their direction and flying South-ward. 

Also rampant sand mining activity near the ghats is destroying the habitats of the Bar headed geese that feed on shoots and grass. "Number of trucks and people entering the area is increasing and that is resulting in the destruction of the natural habitat of these birds. The problem needs to be identified, development is burgeoning in the plateau and areas around it and also the water bodies are being contaminated," Pande said.

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