Disappearing wetlands and polluted lakes cited as main reasons

Where have the birds that once flocked Mysuru in abundance gone?

This question has been worrying naturalists and avian enthusiasts of Mysuru who used to take up bird count in as many as 250 lakes around the city.

With waterbodies and wetlands disappearing fast or the lakes getting contaminated, the number of birds migrating to Mysuru has seen a drastic fall. Drop in water quality (entry of sewage) is another reason cited for the drop in bird count.

“In the last 10 years, the bird count has declined by at least 70 per cent. The congregation seen in the past is a rare sight now. If the trend continues, migratory birds may turn away even from the last remaining water bodies,” warns K .Manu of Mysore Amateur Naturalists (MAN).

He told The Hindu that he and his friends and other agencies used to take up bird census in over 250 lakes in the Mysuru region during 1990-91. Within a short span of time, many lakes disappeared or have become cesspool, thereby threatening the sustenance of bird life.

“We sometimes see less than ten birds in a lake that once supported plentiful birds of varied species,” he said, adding that ducks were the first to migrate to the city followed by wading birds.

Pin tailed duck, Cotton Pygmy Goose or Cotton Teal, Eurasian Teal or Common Teal, Shovelers, Common Coots were among the ducks sighted in lakes of Mysuru. Painted storks, Sandpipers, Godwits, Pelicans were the other migrant birds spotted here.

At least 210 bird species used to seen in the Karanji lake ecosystem during bird watching sessions about eight to nine years ago. Not more than 48 species could be located now, some naturalists say.

People who have been engaged in bird watching sessions since many years said the development works in and around the lakes also caused the drop in bird count. “Disturbance of any kind threatens the birds that are sensitive enough to foresee danger to their habitat,” they said.

The lakes have to be in good health (without contamination) from sewage to support food for the winged beauties which breed on the tree top abutting the lakes.

Though the lakes under the care of Forest Department were more or less protected for birds, the remaining ones need to be maintained properly for attracting more winged beauties.

“Some wetlands were looked after by some government agencies. These bodies remain dry at the time of migration of birds but will be brimming with water by drawing it from nearby canals. The slight variation in water availability could affect the habitat and results in permanent loss of habitat,” they warn.

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