The Telegraph
Thursday , January 9 , 2014
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Forest babus to take up bird-watching
- Officials of Ranchi division directed to survey water bodies and submit report on winged guests

Forest babus of Ranchi division will soon be seen visiting water bodies in the capital to brush up their skills at identifying migratory birds and prepare a dossier of this season’s winged visitors for future reference.

Territorial conservator of forests, Ranchi, A.T. Mishra, on Wednesday shot a maiden directive in this regard, asking officials to conduct a survey and submit a report of the winged guests at all water bodies within the city limits in a week’s time.

Mishra said the move was aimed at inculcating a healthy trend among forest officials so that they do not give migratory birds a miss when they come calling in winters. Also, the exercise will enable officials to recognise the visiting birds better.

“It is unfortunate and embarrassing when the department fails to furnish information regarding migratory birds to students, researches or bird-watchers, who come inquiring,” said Mishra, himself an enthusiast of birds.

“This exercise is aimed at gathering data about migratory birds, like how many of them visit a specific water body, their colour, shapes, size, and names, among others. Depending upon the outcome, we can moot a proposal to make such studies mandatory for forest officers across the state,” he added.

Mishra said during his recent visit to Dhurwa dam, he spotted flocks of shelduck, cormorant, red crested pochard and small ringed plovers. “This is the first time I saw a shelduck, but I am not sure if it has visited earlier,” he said.

Ironically, ever since Jharkhand came into existence, the forest department never bothered to track migratory birds. Only handful of officials did piecemeal work at individual levels, largely out of personal interest.

“As a department, all-round ecological conservation is our mandate, but seldom did anyone bother to gather sufficient information regarding the winged visitors. Extensive studies will give an idea of the birds’ behaviour. If they stop visiting, we shall need to analyse the reasons and take corrective measures,” said another official with a keen interest in birds, not willing to be named.

According to Satya Prakash, state co-ordinator of Indian Bird Conservation Network, an independent agency promoting avian conservation, the number of migratory guests visiting this year and other details could be ascertained only after February.

“From Friday, we will start our annual independent census in the state. We will carry it at 10-12 spots like Kanke Dam in Ranchi, Hatia, Udhwa sanctuary, Hazaribagh, among others. Once the report is complied and compared with last year’s, we will learn about prominent trends, if any,” he said.

Prakash added that they had spotted a Ferruginous Duck for the first time in Tilaiya dam in Hazaribagh this year.

“It’s a welcome step that the forest department is planning to hold their own survey. If needed, we are willing to assist them,” he said.

Jamshedpur-based avian expert K.K. Sharma maintained that he couldn’t find any new visitors so far. “Roughly around 4,000 birds have come to Jamshedpur this year. It is a major dip due to reasons including good rainfall, loss of habitat, among others. Wagtail, common pochard, pink tail are among the migratory birds visiting this season,” he said.

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