Bengal's Buxa tiger reserve earns bird stripes
Avian aficionados came out with flying colours at a bird festival in the Buxa Tiger Reserve (BTR) last week, spotting over 200 species.
The count at Buxa — known as a “paradise” for ornithologists — has surprised the 50 birdwatchers who scoured the forests during the January 6-9 festival.
This was the third such fest in Buxa. Last year’s edition had thrown up 137 bird species.
“This is the first time the birdwatchers moved into the hilly terrains, forest tracts, rivers and wetlands of BTR. They have seen around 210 species of birds, clicked photos and collected details like the location where the birds have been sighted,” said Subhankar Sengupta, field director of the BTR.
“In fact, they have seen some more species which are yet to be identified. We will consult ornithologists soon and once these species are identified, the number (of sightings) will increase to 220 or more,” Sengupta added.
According to another forest official, 73 new species were sighted this year. “The presence of a varied avian population is an indicator that the environment in BTR is conducive for birds. In the coming days, we hope to find some more new species,” the official said.
Sources said the forest department planned a similar exercise in Jaldapara National Park which, like Buxa, is in Alipurduar district. “It is necessary to have information about the avian species in Jaldapara, one of the major reserves of Bengal and the largest habitat of one-horned rhinos,” the official added.
In Buxa last week, among the species spotted for the first time were Short-toed Snake Eagle and Whistler’s Warbler. “Birds like the Great Hornbill, Oriental pied Hornbill and the Red Hornbill were also found,” said a source.
Animesh Bose, a birdwatcher and a wildlife conservationist in Siliguri, stressed the need to persist with such exercises.
“Every year, the checklist of birds in BTR is getting updated. After a gap of around 10 years, we will be able to draw comparisons over time and say whether all these species are still there in Buxa or whether some cannot be sighted any longer. Also, the rise in number of species can bring more enthusiasts to Buxa,” Bose said.