|A bevy of Asian open-bill storks on a tree at Angina. Picture by Mithun Roy
When the bird sanctuaries in North Bengal, such as Kulik in Raiganj and Fulbari in Siliguri, are worried about migratory birds not turning up in enough numbers, Angina, a small village in Balurghat, has emerged as a safe destination for the avian species, although this year they came in quite late.
This time the birds started coming to Angina, about 35km from Balurghat, in July, two months after their the usual time of arrival.
It is the preferred destination as the villagers are extremely supportive towards their winged friends, contrary to some other places.
The migratory birds that were a regular visitor to Angina since 1997, night herons, Asian open-bill storks, spoonbills and other varieties from different parts of Asia, Europe and Africa did not come here till July, worrying the birdwatchers.
These species arrive in large numbers at Angina in May every year.
“The average temperature in the district was 38 degrees Celsius in June this year. The migratory birds avoid high temperature at this time because they lay their eggs soon after,” said Biswajit Basak, secretary of Angina Bird Environment Protection Samity.
According to the forest department, the migratory birds perch on different trees at Angina.
First, they come and inhabit a banyan tree of Angina.
After some time, they scatter among other trees within a range of 1km radius and stay there up to October or mid-November. Then they fly off.
“Since 1997, these birds have been flocking here from different parts of the world like Congo, Siberia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Myanmar and other countries. Around 40 species used to come here in the past. Now it’s about 15,” said Basak.
“The main reason behind their arriving here is the security they get from the local people. In other places, the birds’ eggs and fledglings are stolen. Many times they are killed. But the villagers of Angina constantly guard the birds. There is no hunting of birds here,” he added.
He said that almost 30,000 migratory birds came to Angina every year.
“Another factor that attracts these birds here is the availability of food. Because of heavy rainfall, the areas around Angina get flooded in the middle of the rainy season. At that time insects and fishes become plentiful,” Basak said.
|Cormorants on the bank of a waterbody in
Kulik Bird Sanctuary
“The place has not been considered as a bird sanctuary at the government level. Had the initiative been taken in the past, this place could have thrived and become a tourist destination.”
Abdur Rejjak, an officer at the Balurghat forest range office, agreed with Basak.
“Angina is emerging as a safe destination for migratory birds mainly because of the villagers. They protect the birds. Steps will be taken to announce this place as a bird sanctuary,” Rejjak said.