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Migratory birds avoiding Dakshina Kannada

By Our Staff Correspondent

MANGALORE, NOV. 17. Dakshina Kannada, which has witnessed struggles over issues related to the environment in the past six years, is perhaps entering a phase where environmental issues should take the lead over industrial matters.

Migratory birds are now diverting their course from the district, which is seen as a warning that the environment is in danger.

N.A. Madhyastha, bird watcher and zoologist, has made a study of the behaviour of some long-distance migratory birds. These birds used to visit various parts of the district at different times of the year. Many of them have now either changed course or just do not appear at the usual time in the district.

Talking to The Hindu, Prof. Madhyastha cited three important reasons for the change in the behaviour of at least half a dozen species of birds. These could have far reaching effects on the environment.

Pesticides

Citing excessive use of chemical pesticides as one of the reasons, Prof. Madhyastha said the chemicals had exterminated important pests on which the migratory birds usually fed. Bannadi in Brahmavar was one such example. An undesirable trend was that the soil conditions were not being monitored for highly toxic pesticides and insecticides.

He said the excessive use of pesticides had led to a reduction in the staple food of several migratory birds, one of them the golden plover (Pluvialis dominica), which flies over 5,500 km every year during migration.

These birds travelled from Siberia and northern parts of Europe to Bannadi in September every year. But in the last six years, the golden plover had avoided Dakshina Kannada and probably found sanctuary in neighbouring districts, he said.

This was the second long-route migratory bird after the Arctic Tern.

It also had the record for the second longest (continuous) flight of over 32 hours from its place of origin. Likewise, other birds had also stopped visiting these parts of the country in the last few years.

The curlew, which migrated from Northern Europe to South East Asia, and the avocet, more or less on the same route, were two important birds that were not to be seen of late, Prof. Madhyastha said.

Dakshina Kannada has also been a favourite place for several shore birds, which arrive from Northern Russia and Europe. But because of sea erosion, the sanctuaries of migratory shore birds are vanishing fast.

Prof. Madhyastha said the avocet was a prominent shore bird. But it had remained absent from its natural migratory passage for the last five years.

As many as 29 varieties of birds which frequented the coasts of Dakshina Kannada had become hard to spot now, he added.

However, other parts of the State, including sanctuaries, were receiving their seasonal visitors.

The bar-headed geese, which flies at an altitude of over 30,000 ft, travels from Siberia to Bangalore year after year. Prof. Madhyastha felt it was important to preserve sanctuaries and the passages of migratory birds, which had a distinct effect in maintaining ecological balance.

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