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Migratory birds bring delight, but drop in numbers worrying

AURANGABAD: Bird lovers in Marathwada are having a good time spotting several feathered friends at the water bodies in Marathwada, though there has been a drop in the Greater Flamingo numbers this year.

The Jayakwadi reservoir, 
Tembapuri project, Dheku dam, Sukhana dam, Songthana medium project, Majalgaon dam, Ghanewadi project andVishnupuri project draw hundreds of migratory birds every year from across the globe.

Along with flamingos, other birds like the Grey-headed Canery Fly, Black Red Start, Rose Flinch, Comb Duck and Sterling have been spotted by nature enthusiasts.

"The number of these migratory birds has reduced in the last few years. However, the visible presence of these birds despite the shrinking lake brings cheers to bird lovers. Rapid urbanization and encroachments into the lakes has led to severe degradation of the habitat," said bird lover Pankaj Shakkarwar.

The Salim Ali Lake, which used to witness about 20-25 birds about 20 years back, is now home to only 4-5 flamingos.

"Marathwada, which was home to thousands of Greater Flamingos about five years back, is now attracting only about 500 of them. These pink feathered beauties are migratory birds that come from Siberia to Marathwada via the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat. But from the last few years, due to poor monsoon and shrinking lakes, the number of the flamingoes have reduced to almost half," said ornithologist Kishor Pathak.

Pathak said, "Marathwada is home to one type of flamingos from a total of 6 recognized around the world - the Greater Flamingo. This species can be seen at various sites in Marathwada such as Jayakwadi reservoir, Tembapuri project, Dheku dam, Sukhana dam, Songthana medium project, Majalgaon dam, Ghanewadi project and Vishnupuri project during the migratory season."

"Flamingos don't like urbanization and so they will soon stop coming here because of the developmental projects compromising on nature. Flamingos mostly thrive in mud flats which work to their advantage. It also keeps predators at bay. They generally roam in large groups and their most captivating moments are their synchronized flight," said Pathak.

Another bird lover Milind Girdhari said that there are larger concerns, "Many farmers indulge in illegal extraction of water from lakes and reservoirs. They directly install motor pumps in the vicinity and add to the air pollution."

Home away from home

While on one side the population of the migratory flamingos is depleting but on other hand the region has a reason to cheer since it is been observed by the city ornothologists that about 30-40 Flamingos have made their homes in the region from last two years.

Pathak said that few have been spotted at 
Jayakwadi reservoir and some at Sukhana dam. "Typically, the Flamingos used to (and still do) migrate to the Rann of Kutch in Gujrat every year for breeding and feeding. But since a few years, they have started to patronise a few spots in Marathwada as well

"However, the visible presence of these birds despite the shrinking lake has brought cheers to bird lovers. It would add to the beauty of the site if they start breeding at these places," Girdhari.

The Times of India (03-03-2014)