The Telegraph
Tuesday , January 7 , 2014
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Coal Belt all chirpy with foreign visitors

When winter is knocking in late, it’s normal that migratory birds from Siberia, the Mediterranean and Central Asia would forget their mid-November date with Bokaro-Dhanbad. But the good news is that the winged explorers are finally here.

Since one week now, many varieties of migratory birds have been sighted at many water bodies and woods of the Coal Belt.

Watch out for red-crested pochard, combed duck, starling, ruff, black-winged stilt, common teal, brown-headed and black-headed gulls, spoonbill, greenshank, white and yellow wagtail, northern pintail, gadwalls and garganeys (both small species of dabbling ducks), common coot, mallard and pygmy goose.

These rare birds are flocking to Maithon Dam (Dhanbad) and Tenughat Dam (Bokaro) as well as riverbanks of Garga (near Bokaro Steel City), Chandrapura (near Bokaro Thermal), Damodar (both Bokaro and Dhanbad) and Konar (Bokaro).

Some are also seen at Bokaro Cooling Pond and other reservoirs of the twin districts, including borders of Purulia and Asansol in Bengal.

Bokaro district forest officer (DFO) K. Arvind Manish, who called up The Telegraph to say that the birds have reached, said: “Though they are some six weeks late, they are at least here and will hopefully stay for the next four months. I managed to click pictures at Tenughat Dam.”

Nimita Gupta, an assistant professor of zoology of PKRM College, Dhanbad, as well as the principal investigator of a UGC minor project on wetland birds of Bokaro district, pinned the blame for the delay of the birds on climate change.

“Winter has been coming very late since the past couple of years. Migratory birds have felt the change. That’s why their delay. It’s our good fortune that they still come,” she said.

Bokaro DFO Manish agreed climatic change and rising pollution levels have led to the birds changing their routine.

“They fly at high altitudes to acclimatise themselves with changes in atmosphere, so they feel the highs and lows of temperature keenly,” he said.

In the Coal Belt, changes in topography are detrimental to avian sightings.

Around 100sqkm region — from Bermo (Bokaro) to Maithon (Dhanbad), touching Bengal — is witnessing a dearth of greenery. Rivers such as Damodar, Konar and Garga are becoming slugging and shallow.

“We do not know the ecological needs of all varieties of migratory birds, but we can improve the pattern of bird arrivals by regulating human intervention and see to the heath of the water bodies. Also, the migratory birds need to be protected from poaching,” said bird lover and sociologist B.N. Jha.

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