An author once fondly wrote, “My garden smiles in spring with the joy Flycatchers bring.”
But this year, birdwatchers will have to strain their ears a little more to catch the calls of the ‘doodhraj’ or the Asian Paradise Flycatchers.
The long-tailed birds, also the state bird of Madhya Pradesh, have arrived in fewer numbers in the Kajligarh forest area as compared to the previous season, say birders.
Ornithologist Ajay Gadikar, who has visited the Kajligarh forest several times this summer, says, “Every year at least eight to 10 pairs of this bird can be seen in the forest area, but this year we could spot only four pairs. This is true not only of Asian Paradise Flycatchers, but of other summer migratory birds like the Indian Pitta (navrang), Yellow Oriole and hawk cuckoo.”
Expressing concern over the dwindling number of winged visitors to the state, he said: “It is a matter of research…we cannot say for sure why this has happened.”
According to ornithologists, including Gadikar, the Kajligarh forest valley was a natural choice of birds.
“The forest is quite dense and is located away from human habitation. Also a small stream that flows in the valley provides water to the birds. (Though) the steam dries up (in summer), there are patches of water, which are sufficient for the birds. During monsoon the forest cover keeps the earth moist and becomes a breeding ground for insects — the staple diet of the flycatchers,” Gadikar said.
Talking to Hindustan Times, NGO Nature Volunteers head Bhalu Monde said that the valley of the Kajligarh forest was one of the few places were the bird comes to nest. “It is sad that fewer numbers have come this year…As far as I know, in this region the Asian Paradise Flycatcher breeds only in this valley.”