Visakhapatnam: migratory birds begin to arrive in biodiversity hotspots

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The winter migratory season has started. Join Visakhapatnam bird watchers as they document the action at our biodiversity hotspots, now teeming with newcomers

The first bird watching tour of the season at Lake Podugupalem brought up quite a few surprises.

Bird watchers recorded 54 species of birds during the two-hour session, which was held about a month ago. “This lake is popular with raptors such as the red-necked falcon, the marsh harrier and the short-toed eagle. Last winter we spotted migratory species like the great crested grebe and the great crested duck, which was a welcome sight and indicates that the ecosystem is well suited to migratory species, ”says V. Bhagyasree, an avian biologist working with Wildlife Conservation Through Research and Education (WCTRE) on conservation projects.

November through February is the season when migratory species arrive and the city’s birders and birding groups are ready to document the year’s sightings.

Winged visitors A northern pintail, black-winged stilts, flamingos and among the migratory birds that delight bird watchers in Vizag

Winged Visitors A northern pintail, black-winged stilts, flamingos and among the migratory birds that delight bird watchers in Vizag | Photo credit: DEEPAK KR

Visakhapatnam and its surrounding areas have many water bodies where migratory bird species are recorded. “Araku and Lambasingi are promising places with over 100 species,” says Janardhan Uppada of the Vizag Birdwatchers Society. Tagarapuvalasa Cheruvu is now home to snipe and wading birds.

Meghadrigedda Reservoir, surrounded on all sides by ranges of Eastern Ghats hills, with steep slopes and deep ravines, is a wintering ground for many migratory birds, especially of the Central Asian flyway . V Bhagyasree who co-wrote an article with Vivek Rathod on habitat lists the birds that have been recorded in the area: “Ten species of the family of Anatidae (ducks, goose). Followed by other important families such as Motacillidae (pipits, wagtails) with nine species, Ardeidae (herons, bitterns) with eight species, Charadriidae (plovers) and Accipitridae (harriers and kites) with seven species, Cuculidae (cuckoo clocks and koel) and Scolopacidae (snipe and sandpiper) having six species.

Of the 146 species recorded in this hotspot, the common pochard is listed as “vulnerable” according to the Red List of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), while the black-headed ibis, the eastern darter, the painted stork and the Alexandrian parakeet are “almost threatened”. ‘. “Some of the notable migratory species include the great crested grebe, Eurasian duck, rufous crested duck, pintail and chipeau duck,” adds Bhagyasree.

Winter migratory winged visitors begin to arrive in Visakhapatnam

The last season of birding saw some unusual sightings, including two female Eastern Pied Hornbills in Kailasagiri Hill in the heart of town. “It was the first such record of this hill and opened more opportunities for further explorations for bird watchers,” said Vikram Penmetsa, member of the Vizag Birdwatchers Society. “The NTPC ash basin is another hub for plovers and diggers. Interestingly, bird watchers also recorded a flamingo here about two years ago, ”he adds.

For the past few years, the Vizag Birdwatchers Society has been monitoring residents and migratory bird species in the area. The society has over 150 members including 20 active members and has documented many rare and important species. Important finds include the flamingo, red-necked falcon, and peregrine raptor, among others. The company has digitally documented the bird species on the eBird India platform.

However, habitats like Kondakarla Ava Lake, Andhra Pradesh’s second largest freshwater lake, which was once a popular birding site, have seen a drastic drop in winter migrants. “Winter migrants have three main criteria for habitat selection: food availability, space availability and protection from predators. If any of these things are affected, it will lead to a drop in the number of avian visitors, ”says Bhagyasree. According to bird watchers, an increase in fishing activity could be one of the reasons for the decline.

For first-timers, places like Indira Gandhi Zoological Park provide a good way to start the birding trip. “There are a number of resident species here. We also spotted the Asian brown flycatcher, a migratory species, ”says Bhagyasree. WCTRE and Indira Gandhi Zoological Park regularly organize birding walks here every weekend. Currently, the team is also documenting the list of species in the region.

However, the recent wave of rain has worried bird watchers in the area. “The backwaters are flooded and the waders that were along the fringes are moved. Ducks settle in the center of the reservoir due to poaching, which is another major concern here. Thus observations become difficult; you need binoculars, ”says Janardhan.

There is also concern about the gradual degradation of habitat due to anthropogenic causes.

“The destruction of habitat, the industrialization of neighboring lands all contribute to the decrease in the number of birds in the reservoir,” Bhagyasree explains, adding: “Efficient desalination and declaring it equivalent to a wetland are some ways of protect this habitat for our feathered friends. “


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