Long-distance fliers land at Malyadi

Long-distance fliers land at Malyadi


Long-distance fliers land at Malyadi

 Malyadi, a small town near Udupi, attracts a wide variety of birds including egrets, crested larks and little cormorants. The sight of these birds in flight makes the place worth a visit. The downside, points out  Ashok Kumar, is that fishing, poaching, irrational use of pesticides and chemical fertilisers, are posing a threat to the sanctuary.

Karnataka is home to several wildlife sanctuaries, national parks and bird sanctuaries. The most popular bird sanctuaries are Gudavi, Mandagadde, Kokkare Bellur Pelicanry, Attiveri, Magadi Kere, Bankapur Peacock Sanctuary, and the world famous bird sanctuary, Ranganathittu. Malyadi, situated away from the hustle and bustle of urban life, is a hotspot for birdwatchers and ornithologists, but largely remains unknown to the outside world.

Malyadi, two km from Tekkatte, a small town about 25 km from Udupi towards Kundapur on NH17, has a wetland ecosystem. This land area is spread over one sq. km and has been formed because of the excavation of clay for tile factories a few decades ago. This stretch of land now holds water throughout the year and attracts a wide variety of bird species including long-distance fliers from Europe, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Srilanka and the Himalayas.

The commonly seen birds that inhabit Malyadi are little cormorant, darter, purple moorhen, white-breasted kingfisher, Australian white ibis, stork, red-wattled lapwing, white-breasted waterhen, pond heron, cattle egret, bronze-winged jacana, crested lark, etc.

The flights of small pratincoles and cattle egrets, and the beauty of ducks and terns peeking out of water lily ponds and sedges makes the place worth visiting between November and March.

The downside is that fishing, bird poaching, extension of human habitat, irrational use of pesticides and chemical fertilisers around the area while taking up agricultural activities pose a great threat to the sanctuary, and requires attention. Moreover, there is neither a watch tower nor basic facilities for visitors.

The fish diversity and density in the ponds here also need to be increased. Many varieties of local trees could be grown to provide shelter to birds for nesting and nurturing young ones. If developed properly, this habitat will add one more feather to the cap of the State and will be a prominent tourist spot of Kundapur taluk.

The local people, land owners, Departments of Forest and Revenue, and the Panchayat need to come together to improve the sanctuary and ensure that the ecosystem is in balance.

A team comprising N A Madyastha, Member of Karnataka State Wildlife Board and H S Malli has been investigating and monitoring this sanctuary for a decade and identified around 45 resident and migratory bird species.

Madyastha opines that although there is an increase in the number of migratory birds visiting Malyadi in the last few years, it has also been observed that some of the migratory birds have said goodbye to Malyadi for various reasons.

Educating the local people on the significance and importance of birds has to be taken up to prevent any kind of disturbance. Further, monitoring of bird diversity in different seasons and their population fluctuations over the years has to be carried out, Madyastha adds.

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