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Migratory birds keep their date with Mysore

Winter migration commences in December and lasts till March

long sojourn:A gaggle of bar-headed geese at Hadinaru lake near Mysore.— PHOTO: M.A. SRIRAM
long sojourn:A gaggle of bar-headed geese at Hadinaru lake near Mysore.— PHOTO: M.A. SRIRAM
Cruising above 29,000 feet and flying over the Mount Everest and across the Himalayas, hundreds of bar-headed geese have flocked to Mysore to keep their annual tryst with the region in the winter.
These migratory birds have been sighted at Hadinaru lake in Nanjangud taluk of Mysore district. Kaggalipura, near Somanathapur, and Ratnapuri, near Hunsur, are other prominent waterbodies where they tend to roost.
K. Manu, an ornithologist, said the winter migration commences in December and lasts till March after which the birds fly back home. Bar-headed geese, Garganey, northern pintail duck and shoveler come in large numbers and can be found at Kalluru, Lingambudhi, Kukkarahalli, and Kaggalipura too.
Scientists are often amazed at their ability to cruise and reach extreme heights during their trans-Himalayan flight from Mongolia and Tibet to India to escape the harsh winters.
Numbers vary
Kulashekara S. Chakravarthy, an avid birdwatcher and photographer, who is a marketing executive with the State Bank of India, told The Hindu that the number of bar-headed geese visiting Mysore varied from year to year as the gaggle spreads itself across the country. “While there have been over 5,000 of these exotic birds on occasions, their numbers have plummeted to below 500 in certain years,” he said.
Some of the birds at Hadinaru lake were found to have a band with a number and this was explained as part of an exercise akin to radio collaring of animals to track their movement, migratory pattern etc. “I have photographed a few bar-headed geese with the same band number during two successive years, which indicates that the same birds had visited the same site,” Mr. Chakravarthy.
Mr. Manu said birds maintain “site fidelity” and tend to return to the same habitat year after year unless there was encroachment or other forms of disturbance. Though these birds prefer lakes for roosting, they feed on grains, and local farmers see them as a threat to crops and scare them away with crackers.
He, however, expressed concern that the real long-term threat to the bird migration was in the gradual destruction of the lake ecosystem due to encroachment and neglect which may force the winged beauties to abandon their established habitat in Mysore region.

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