Wings of joy: Coming soon, home for birds

AGALKOT: Next time you want to visit a bird sanctuary, you can add Almatti to your list. For, much to the joy of the birding community in North Karnataka, the backwaters of Almatti dam will soon be notified as Almatti Bird Sanctuary. And, thus,  a long-pending-demand is finally being fulfilled.

The Karnataka Forest Department has prepared a checklist of local and migratory birds that shelter in the backwaters of Krishna river in Almatti. The department is planning to develop a bird sanctuary in a vast land of 10,000 acres from Yerkal to Chikkasangama of Bagalkot. Once established, this will be the largest bird sanctuary in Karnataka.

In a first step, the department of forest has begun documenting all the bird moments at the Krishna river. Greater flamingos and bar-headed geese are the two most important migratory birds that visit this region. These birds come from thousands of miles from North Africa, Europe, and other countries. The birds stay nearly for a period of five to six months starting from October.

As per the current checklist, about 216 different species of birds have been documented in the backwaters of Almatti dam. The birds start arriving here from October for nesting and breeding. There are more than 10 large natural islands where they can build their nests and breed.Apart from this, the department plans to build artificial islands to facilitate the birds in large once the area is declared a sanctuary.

M R Desai, a naturalist from Bagalkot, says  the Almatti backwaters has a unique eco-system stretching for more than 70 km along the Krishna River.“Plovers, waterbirds, ducks, Kentish plovers, black-tailed godwit, brown-headed geese, Demoiselle crane and many different birds come here. “But the number of birds that arrive here is low compared to Ranganathitu bird sanctuary. This region also has livestock in high numbers which may disturb the birds for nesting. Once it is declared, the area will be guarded and will be one of the finest bird sanctuaries in the state,” says Desai.

The forest department will submit the bird list and patterns of migration in the last three winters to the state government. A nod from the Bombay Natural History Society  (BNHS) is also essential before declaring the proposed areas as a bird sanctuary.

“Once it is declared as a bird sanctuary, then the central and state governments will jointly fund the project. Then we can develop it as one of the finest tourist destinations in the North Karnataka region,” says P K Naik, Deputy Conservator of Forest.

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