Lapwing and Wagtail arrive at Pallikaranai

Bird watchers tracking winged visitors at the Pallikaranai marshland (PML) are enthralled over the timely arrival of the Grey-headed Lapwing and the Yellow Wagtail this year.
Western Yellow Wagtail; Grey-headed Lapwing
Western Yellow Wagtail; Grey-headed Lapwing

Chennai

“Foresters and bird watchers are excited over the sighting of migratory Grey-headed Lapwing at Pallikaranai and this trend has been continuing for the past five years as the marsh land is home to birds from far and wide ranging from Siberia, South Korea, Africa, Mongolia and China,” said KVRK Thirunaranan, founder, The Nature Trust.
As part of the regular bird census, bird watchers have been tracking the Lapwing and Wagtail families and their arrival ahead of north east monsoon, thus proving that PML is a winter destination for long-distance birds. “The Red Wattled Lapwing and the Yellow Wattled Lapwing are mostly local residents and the Grey-headed Lapwing is usually distributed over south Korea,” Thirunaranan explained. Similarly, the Wagtail is found in European countries and has started migrating to Tamil Nadu.
At present, water level at the marsh is knee-deep and this may be conducive for the migratory ducks like Northern Pintail, Shoveler, Garganey, Pelican and Eurasian Teal, but the waders may have to look out for nearby shallow wetlands. “Pallikaranai meets 7 out of 9 criteria that are essential for it to be declared a Ramsar site and the Madras High Court in its recent order had urged the state to declare PML as a Ramsar site, ” recalled a former Forest Department pleader and a bird watcher. He also noted that the State government should comply with the ecologically sensitive order pronounced by Justice N Kirubakaran under which PML should be declared a Ramsar site at the earliest after removal of nearby industrial pollution units. “The regular annual visits of these long-distance birds are proof of PML’s ecological value and its significance in protecting Chennai from natural disasters like Tsunami, floods and cyclones,” the advocate, wishing not to be named, said.

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