Wild ducks make a comeback to Wayanad

Wetland bird count records over 1,200 birds belonging to 110 species

The Wayanad wetland bird count that concluded here on Sunday recorded more than 1,200 birds belonging to 110 species, including 43 wetland exclusive birds.

The citizen science initiative tried to enumerate the resident and migratory waterfowl associated with the major wetland ecosystems of Wayanad such as the Banasura and Karapuzha reservoirs, Panamaram and Arattuthara paddy fields, as well as the Ammavayal and Golur waterbodies in the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary.

Census

The two-day programme, held as a part of the Asian Waterbird Census, was organised jointly by the Social Forestry Department, Wayanad, Hume Centre for Ecology and Wildlife Biology, and the Ratufa Nature Club of the College of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (CVAS), Pookode.

Key species that were recorded during the count included spot-billed ducks, common teals, whistling teals, river terns, and garganey, C.K.Vishnudas, conservation biologist, Hume Centre for Ecology, said.

Sighting of a red-crested pochard female in Karapuzha, a pair of oriental turtle dove, and pallid harrier at Panamaram were the highlights of the survey. Breeding of great cormorants was observed in the Banasura reservoir.

“Though small in numbers, the water bird count shows a trend of many wild ducks establishing gradually in the wetlands of Wayanad. Spot-billed ducks, common teals were rare in Wayanad some ten years back,” Mr. Vishnudas, who coordinated the survey, said.

“When the Karapuzha reservoir was commissioned, the shallow waterbodies close to the hills created an ideal habitat for waterbirds to thrive and breed. The population of swamp hens and jacana is showing an increasing trend along with common teals and whistling teals,” Mr. Vishnudas added.

Wetland ecosystems play a major role in maintaining water resources of a region and lifeline of agriculture production systems. The data generated from the event contribute to the global efforts to understand the changes in avian population in response to climate and ecosystem changes, he added.

C. Balusami, Dean, CVAS, Pookode, inaugurated the programme. A.Harilal, Divisional Forest Officer, Social Forestry, Wayanad, supervised.

Ornithologists R.L. Rathish and Roshnath Ramesh handled technical sessions on the importance of wetland birds, identification of birds, and bird evolution in the Western Ghats prior to the survey.

As many as 56 participants, including students from CVAS and Government Engineering College, Mananthavady, and citizen birders of Wayanad, took part in the programme.

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