Bird watchers sighted 193 species – 44 more than existing records – during the two-day bird survey at Dharoi Dam in northern Gujarat that ended on Sunday.
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The survey, carried out by the Forestry Department in collaboration with the Bird Conservation Society of Gujarat (BCSG) and a local resort in Polo Forest in Sabarkantha, was the first formal exercise in mapping the diversity of avifauna in the irrigation reservoir, a wetland.
“During the survey, ornithologists identified 193 species of birds. This is 44 more species than the 149 listed in the bird checklists available on e-Bird,” said Uday Vora, a retired forestry officer who is currently joint secretary of the BCSG. The 193 species included a large number of waterfowl, passerines, woodland birds as well as common birds such as house crows and house sparrows, he added.
eBird is a globally popular portal where birdwatchers around the world share their sightings during birding trips.
The survey was carried out over 102 square kilometers (km²) of the 105.66 km² submergence area of Dharoi Dam located at Kheralu taluka of Mehsana district. “It is an excellent birding site just 100 kilometers from Ahmedabad,” Vora added.
“The aim was to introduce this wetland to birdwatchers from various parts of Gujarat and help them understand the importance of irrigation reservoirs. Irrigation dams are primarily meant to make water available for irrigation, but they end up becoming attractions for birds,” said Dr. Bakul Trivedi, Honorary Secretary of BSCG. Further, he said that the species richness and population abundance in a wetland in Gujarat is affected by various factors such as rainfall in different parts of the state.
“If such surveys are carried out on all the dams in the state, we may be able to understand how different factors affect the species richness and population of birds in the wetlands of Gujarat and can recommend necessary actions to the government. of the State and also raise public awareness about bird conservation,” added Dr. Trivedi.
“We will continue to analyze data collected by 60 birders across the state who participated in the survey. This will help improve our understanding of the bird diversity of this wetland and Dharoi Dam as a habitat. of birds,” said Mayur Rathod, an ornithologist who runs Adams Nature Retreat Resort in Polo Forest in Sabarkantha.
The station had collaborated with the Sabarkantha Division of the Gujarat Forestry Department and the BCSG to carry out the bird survey. “Birdwatchers have recorded black-necked storks, a fair number of grey-legged geese, red-crested pochards and many other bird species. A group of birdwatchers also claim to have seen stilts – Australia’s migratory wading birds, but we are checking more details,” Rathod said.
Black-necked storks are listed as Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). It is considered a rare bird in Gujarat.