Bird watchers endure the cold of winter and come to Nalsarovar and Thol Lake to study migratory birds which arrive here at this time of the year. But the situation is somewhat disappointing at the above-mentioned wetlands this year because very few of the avian visitors have arrived so far. Birders, however, are optimistic that they will come as the winter advances.
However, the good news is that the have not opted for some place outside Gujarat. Birders who are regulars at Nalsarovar and Thol say that migratory birds which should have been here by now had, instead, decided to camp in Kutch. That district had good rainfall this year making it attractive for the avian visitors by providing them with enough food and a good place to breed.
Gujarat has more than 200 places which are visited by migratory birds every year. Asian Region coordinator for Asian Waterbird Census-2012, Dr Bharat Jethva, also said that 2011-12 might see fewer migratory birds than usual.
"The number of migratory birds visiting Thol and Nalsarovar this year is likely to be less; this indicates that they have spread across various wetlands in the state. Fewer migratory birds at Thol and Nalsarovar is not an indication of a fall in the number of birds coming to Gujarat. Flamingos, for instance, are already breeding in the Little Rann of Kutch," Jethva said.
A birdwatcher, Kandarp Kathju, said that on any given day, more than 50 species of migratory birds can be seen at Thol Lake. This is a big number, he said.
"There are more than 100 species of birds in the area but not all can be seen every day. One must see the display of birds in the evenings," Katju said.
The biennial State Bird Census for Nal Sarovar and Thol is planned in February while the Asian Waterbird Census-2012 is scheduled for January 14-29. These censuses are expected to give a more accurate picture of the number of migratory birds that had come to the state during the winter months this season.
Range forest officer, Nalsarovar, Ramesh K Jalandhara, said bird numbers had dipped in the 2010 census as compared to the previous census in 2008. He further said that, in 2008, the bird count was 2.52 lakh while in 2010, their numbers had fallen to 1.80lakh.
"However, this is nothing to worry about as birds flock to areas where there is enough wetland and rainfall. For instance, there was good rainfall in 2008; hence we had a large number of birds coming to the state.” Jalandhara said.
The dates of the forthcoming State Bird Census are not decided yet. PA Patel, deputy conservator of forest, Nalsarovar, wildlife division, Sanand, said that depending on the water levels, the date for the census will be decided after January 15.”