Despite the shrinking water bodies due to massive encroachment and pollution, the 17 urban wetlands in the city continue to attract 116 varieties of exotic birds, among which 43 are seasonal migrants.
Though the migratory season is still two weeks away, major city lakes including Singanallur, Vedapatti and Ukkadam Periyakulam have started attracting a large number of painted storks, spot-billed pelicans, oriental white ibis and western marsh harriers. Even the highly polluted Valankulam and Ukkadam lake in the heart of the city are witnessing the arrival of a large number of migratory birds. The seasonal guests are in perfect harmony with the permanent occupants including coots, cormorants and grebes.
According to avid bird watchers like K Mohanraj and R Mohammed Saleem, a number of shore birds too have started arriving in city lakes, ahead of the season. We suspect their seashore habitats may have experienced some disturbance. This is an emerging trend as the city rarely saw shore birds in previous seasons,'' said Mohanraj.
Mohammed Saleem has identified nine new species that have visited the city this season, and he is hopeful that more would come towards the end of October, staying through the season which ends in April. Most lakes have started drying up due to poor monsoons but that has not deterred birds from arriving in the city,'' said Saleem.
In previous years, Puttuvicki lake between Selvapauram and Kovaipudur had attracted many birds irrespective of whether they were local or migratory. Less polluted and situated in lush greenery, the lake had turned into a massive nesting and roosting site for birds. But it has almost dried up completely, keeping the birds away.
The Valankulam lake started attracting more birds this season after corporation authorities removed water hyacinths and pollutants. The wealth of fish has been largely depleted in Coimbatore lakes due to the toxins and sewage released into the lakes. Human encroachment and heavy traffic are also discouraging winged visitors. But regardless of the several deterrents, the birds continue to show up every season,'' said Saleem.
"Among the 17 urban wetlands, only the Perur and Puttuvicki lakes have clean water. It is a real wonder that birds are still flocking the other lakes,'' says N Lakshminarayanan of Wildlife Conservation Society.
Though it is polluted by sewage water from the Sanganur drain, the Singanallur lake is ideal for observing birds, say watchers. Several verities can be seen here. The Noyyal basin can attract more birds if we can check encroachment and pollution. Located close to the Western Ghats, the area is known for its mild winters and moderate summers. The annual rainfall is 61.22cm. These conditions are conducive for migratory birds," says Lakshminarayanan.