Inland water bodies now see coastal birds Ecosystem
Inland water bodies now see coastal birds
The Whimbrel, which usually migrates to the coast, was spotted at Saykheda in Yavatmal recently; experts believe such spots are used as stopover sites
November and December see many winter migratory birds visiting various waterbodies across the state. However, sightings of coastal birds using inland water bodies have also indicated how these bodies are important as stopover spots for migrating coastal birds. In one such recent sighting, the Whimbrel, a bird which migrates to the coastal areas of the country, was spotted at Saykheda, a water body in Yavatmal. In fact, experts in that area have earlier spotted other coastal birds which are extremely rare in freshwater bodies at Saykheda.
"The Whimbrel migrates from Siberia, Europe, Russia, Canada etc, and comes mostly to the coast. It is not that commonly found in freshwater bodies in the central land. But, the bird was seen at this water body earlier this week. Also, a Broad-billed Sandpiper and a Dunlin, again extremely rare in the central land, were spotted here three and two years ago, respectively," said Dr Ramzan Virani, a wildlife biologist in the area.
He added that these birds have used this water body for stopovers during their migrations and that these observations suggest that such inland water bodies are not only important to support the wetland eco-system, but also as a migratory support system for coastal birds.
The Whimbrel is fully migratory. It breeds from May to August either in well-dispersed solitary pairs or in loose groups depending on the topography of the land. The autumn migration occurs from July onwards with return passage to breeding grounds occurring chiefly between March and May. When it comes to the Broad-billed Sandpiper, the adults breeding in Fennoscandia (geographical peninsula comprising areas like the Scandinavian Peninsula, Finland, Karelia and Kola Peninsula) leave the breeding ground in July, while juveniles depart in August and stop over in substantial numbers in Sivash, Southern Ukraine, on the Middle Eastern coasts, the Caspian Sea and Bulgarian seaboard before arriving in wintering grounds in Africa, Pakistan and South India between August and early October. Dunlins, on the other hand, arrive on their wintering grounds from late June, returning again between March and early April. They move along the coastal mud-flats and their diet on nesting grounds includes molluscs, worms and crustaceans. Although none of the birds are in the International Union of Conservation of Nature's threatened list, their occurrence in freshwater bodies in the country's inland is uncommon.
"Whimbrels might still be spotted occasionally, but Dunlins and Broadbilled Sandpipers are extremely rare. This proves the importance of wetland eco-systems and that they are sometimes used by coastal migratory birds as stopover points. We have also started a programme to protect the wetlands which are outside of presently protected areas," said Dr Girish Jathar, a researcher with Bombay Natural History Society.
Dr Satish Pande, another ornithologist from the city, said, "These birds are seen after the Ganesh festival while in their travelling passage. They rest for acouple of days before arriving at the final wintering ground."