Extended rainfall sees few flamingos at Bhigwan in Pune district

December and January is the period when the maximum number of visitors and bird watchers visit Bhigwan, about 250 km from Pune.
Flamingos, migratory birds are seen at Kumbhargaon, Bhigwan near Pune, India, on December 15, 2019.(Pratham Gokhale/HT Photo)
Flamingos, migratory birds are seen at Kumbhargaon, Bhigwan near Pune, India, on December 15, 2019.(Pratham Gokhale/HT Photo)
Updated on Dec 23, 2019 02:37 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Pune | ByPrachi Bari and Pratham Gokhale

 The extended rainfall this year has seen lesser number of flamingos arriving in the natural wetlands at Bhigwan in Pune district, according to bird watchers.

Girish Jathar, Assistant Director, Climate Change and Himalaya programme, Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) said that due to the good rainfall and a lot of water this year, migratory birds are expected to go to other places and return to their regular places once the water recedes.

“There is no data available on Bhigwan; all we have is anecdotal data, hence to make any comment on population would be wrong,” Jathar said.

Sanjeev Nalavade, an enthusiastic bird watcher and retired professor of Geography, Fergusson College, said flamingos prefer shallow water, and at Bhigwan, there were lesser sightings of these migratory birds as compared to previous years. The extended rainfall may have led migratory birds to opt for other places on their migratory path, he said. “This year, the cycle for migratory birds seems to have been disturbed because of late rains and also because the cold is yet to begin,” Nalavade said.

Datta Nagare, a local guide who owns a popular bird watching site at Kumbhargaon, Bhigwan, said last year, around 15,000 flamingos were seen at Bhigwan. “As the water level is high this year, there are lesser number of flamingos, but other birds like Rosy Starling and various ducks like Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Garganey, Eurasian Wigeon have been seen in large numbers.

“More flamingos are expected once the water level recedes,” he said.

December and January is the period when the maximum number of visitors and bird watchers visit Bhigwan, about 250 km from Pune. For decades together, these natural wetlands have been frequented by a number of migratory birds, especially flamingos, rosy starling, peregrine falcon, osprey and various species of ducks.

According to ebird.org, a website managed by Cornell Lab of Ornithology, during December, 225 species of birds have been spotted at Bhigwan.

Birds such as Skimmer, Demoiselle Crane, Knob-billed duck, Collared Pratincole, Pacific Golden-Plover, Greater Painted-Snipe, Pelican, White stork and Pied Avocet species are yet to arrive.

Jathar stressed on the need for regular bird count of migratory birds entering from Gujarat and Rajasthan and their dispersal towards south India and Sri Lanka.

“Flamingos breed in the Rann of Kutch, in flamingo city and then disperse,” he said, adding that they are seen in large numbers in Thane Creek, near Mumbai, and Bhigwan, because of sweet water.

The first arrivals of the migratory birds at Bhigwan usually begins in August with Common Sandpiper, although the peak time for many of the migratory birds is from December and January. Most of these birds start arriving in October and stay on till March and a few continue till April and May, Nalavade said.

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Monday, January 24, 2022