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Visitors fly in, 8 weeks late

- Birds delay arrival in Bokaro in tune with climate changes

Better late than not at all is probably what avid Coal Belt bird watchers are saying now as winged guests from thousands of miles away are flocking all the water bodies in the region, their arrival about eight weeks past their scheduled visit time.

Thousands of migratory birds from Siberia, central Asia and the Himalayas have arrived, making Maithon dam, Tenughat dam, Garga river, Chandrapura, Damodar and Konar basins, Bokaro cooling pond and other reservoirs of the twin districts a visual treat.

The red crested pochards and the combed ducks were the first to fly in, followed by starling, ruff, black-winged stilt, common teal, gadwal, brown headed and black headed gulls, spoon bill, greenshank, white and yellow wagtail, northern pintail, gargney, common coot, mallard and Pygmy goose. The birds, which usually arrive by early November, were delayed by more than eight weeks this time.

According to zoology professor Navita Gupta, also principal investigator of UGC’s minor project on wetland birds in Bokaro district, because of the change in climatic conditions, migratory birds had also changed their timing.

“Earlier, we use to shiver in late November and early December and it would be even colder in January. The same cannot be said now. It also affects migratory birds who used to arrive earlier but now have changed their schedule. However, this is also a temporary phase because if temperatures start falling from November, the migratory birds will also arrive early,” said Gupta.

Bokaro district forest officer Arvind Manish also admitted that change in climate pattern and rising pollution had kept away the birds for long.

The number of water bodies in the region has also shrunk. They have either dried up or have been filled to make land available for cultivation. The water levels of rivers like Damodar, Konar and Garga have fallen and extreme pollution due to direct discharge of industrial and domestic sewage through canals and drains into the river has depleted oxygen levels in the water.

“Flying at high altitude, the birds acclimatise themselves with the changing weather. These migratory birds arrive from colder climates in search of food and safety and they will stay in Jharkhand for at least the next four months,” stated Manish.