CITIES

City welcomes winged visitors from foreign lands

 

The migratory season is here and winged visitors from foreign lands have started making the green landscapes and waterbodies around the city their home. Among the land birds, birding enthusiasts can spot various species such as greenish leaf warblers and bright reed warblers, flycatchers and golden orioles.

“Though the number of land birds has declined drastically in the past years owing to loss of greenery, these species are not hard to spot in the city. One can spot them in thick wooded patches in the city, but in smaller numbers,” says M.B. Krishna, an ornithologist.

According to him, the best places to spot land birds are Valley School, Nandi Hills, Bannerghatta National Park, and Lalbagh.

Some of the city’s cleaner lakes are also home to many migratory species from October to March. Many species of ducks, including spot-billed duck, garganey duck and pintail duck, can be spotted along with species of sandpipers, black-winged stilts, herons and egrets through the season. The revived Jakkur, Saul Kere, Yelahanaka, Kaikondrahalli and Madiwala lakes are some of the places to head to this birding season.

Deepa Mohan, 64, who has been a birder for over 12 years, says the season has started on a good note, with a lot of migratory birds already coming to the wooded patches and waterbodies in and around the city. “Last year, the number of migratory ducks was quite dismal. But, with the city and its surroundings receiving decent rainfall this time, we are expecting a good number of species to visit,” said the blogger and writer, who has been birdwatching every weekend.

According to the e-bird India website — a portal where birders post their latest bird spotting experiences — 290 species of birds have been spotted across the city this year. Valley School remains the biggest hotspot for birding, with 193 species being spotted here. Hessaraghatta Lake and GKVK campus are the other two spots from where birders have been reporting a large number of sightings — 184 and 160 species, respectively.

Lake design

While increasing green cover can bring in more land birds, simple changes to the design of reclaimed lakes can encourage more birds to visit these waterbodies, says Ulhas P. Anand, who has been a birder for over 29 years.

“The soup bowl construction around the lakes, where all sides are of same height, does not encourage birds to come. The original lake structure, with sloping margins, meant more vegetation along the banks, and hence more oxygen in the water. Birds can easily walk into these lakes. The present design of reclaimed lakes is only conducive to deepwater birds,” he says. He adds that whether the number of migrant birds has gone up or down can only be gauged towards the end of December, when all the birds come in.

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