Preliminary observations on avifauna of the Jai Prakash Narayan Bird Sanctuary (Suraha Tal Lake), Ballia, Uttar Pradesh, India
P.K. Srivastava 1 & S.J. Srivastava 2
1,2 Department of Zoology, S.M.M. Town Post Graduate College, Ballia, Uttar Pradesh 277001, India
Present address: 1 Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute, Barrackpore, Kolkata, West Bengal 700120, India
Email: 1 firstname.lastname@example.org (corresponding author), 2 email@example.com
Suraha Tal Lake is the largest floodplain lake in Ballia District of eastern Uttar Pradesh. It is an open type oval ‘U’ shaped ox-bow lake in the floodplain of river Ganga, located 8km north of the district headquarters of Ballia. It is a perennial meander of the river Ganga with an area of 26km2. During the monsoon season, it covers about 33.4km2. It extends between 25048’–25052’N and 8408’–84013’E at an altitude of 166m. The lake circumference is about 33.4km (Image 1). The Government of Uttar Pradesh has notified an area of 34.4km2 including the lake as a bird sanctuary by Gazette notification No. 1088(1)/14-3-19/89 Lucknow dated 24.03.1991. The sanctuary has been named “Jai Prakash Narayan Bird Sanctuary” and it comprises both private and Gram Samaj lands in a number of small pokets where paddy is cultivated throughout the year. The lake is connected with the river Ganga through 32.6km long Katehar nullah. The lake is drained and filled through Katehar nullah according to the water level of the river Ganga, resulting in complete inundation during the monsoon months. It offers good habitat for a variety of flora and fauna. Birds are known to arrive frequently this lake due to the availability of nesting and feeding habitats. The lake has great recreational value and supports local agriculture and tourism and also other activities common in low lying areas such as irrigation and fisheries. Human interference and alteration in water levels of the wetlands are significantly responsible to recent decline in bird population. So far there is no detail infomation on the population status of water birds and the possible impact of human activities on wild birds population of this region.
Materials and methods: The checklist of the avifauna of Suraha Tal Lake was prepared by extensive field surveys between August 2002 and July 2004. Surveys were conducted by fishing boat inside the entire lake and in paddy fields, trees and villages situated around the lake. Surveys were conducted monthly in the mornings from 0800–1100 hr and in the evenings from 1500–1800 hr with the help of 8×40 Bushnell binoculars. Identification and records were maintained according to their status (resident, migrant and local migrant), season (summer, winter and throughout the year) and habitat (aquatic, trees and human habitation). Birds were identified with the help of books by King et al. (1975), Hancock (1984), Woodcock (1984), Ali & Ripley (1987), Manakadan & Pittie (2001), and Ali (2002).
Results and Discussion: A total of 91 species of birds representing 33 families and 13 orders were recorded. Of these, 62 species are resident, 24 migrant and 20 are local migrant (Table 1). Availability of food and suitable habitat facilitated resident and local migrant bird species to visit the lake throughout the year (Fig. 1). In the winter season maximum birds species were recorded while in summer season the record was minimum. Common Teal, Temminck’s Stint, Pallas’s Fishing Eagle, and Great Crested Grebe were recorded occasionally during the study.
The common resident birds were Grey Heron, Indian Pond Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Median Egret, Great Cormorant, Indian Shag, Little Cormorant, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Greater Coucal, Indian Cuckoo, Indian Roller, Coppersmith Barbet, Brown-capped Pygmy Woodpecker, Common Myna, House Crow, Jungle Crow, Red-vented Bulbul, Jungle Babbler, Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch and House Sparrow (Table 1).
The local migrant birds encountered were Large Egret, Purple Heron, Night Heron, Black Ibis, White Ibis, Baya Weaver, White-necked Stork, Cotton Teal, Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Eurasian Collared-dove, Spotted Dove, Yellow-legged Green Pigeon, Asian Koel, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Wire-tailed Swallow, Rufous backed Shrike, Jungle Myna, Bank Myna, Ashy-crowned Finch-Lark and Open billed Stork (Table 1). The migratory birds mostly visited the area during winter season, were Common Teal, Little Ringed Plover, Golden Plover, Spotted Sandpiper and Darter are very common in appearance and also high in density.
The number of migratory birds has decreased over the years with increase in indiscriminate poaching. Another serious problem is the use of pesticides in paddy fields around the lake. A number of bird hunters kill the birds illegally either by trapping or poisoning. Poachers are adopting very special methods for birds hunting. They insert insecticides (Furadan) in the abdominal cavity of insects viz. (Forficula auricularia) and spread them near the vicinity of the lake and on the floating leaves of aquatic plants. Birds consume these poisoned insects, become lethargic and ultimately unconscious, and becoming easy prey to the poachers. The poachers revive them putting water drops in the bird’s mouth. Then the live birds are furtively sold by them. Although the Forest Department has put up a signboard against the hunting of birds in these areas, they are still being hunted with the connivance of some local residents. Awareness programmes should be organized by local people, Government organizations and NGOs against the birds hunting and use of harmful pesticides in the agricultural fields. Human interference, eco-tourism and encroachment of wetlands are the main reasons for the decline in avifauna in terms of density as well as diversity.
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Ali, S. & S.D. Ripley (1987). Compact Handbook of Birds of India and Pakistan. Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 820pp.
Hancock, J. (1984). The Birds of The Wetlands. Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 176pp.
King, B., E.C. Dickinson & M.W. Woodcock (1975). A Field Guide to The Birds of South-East Asia. Collins, London, 480pp.
Manakadan, R. & A. Pittie (2001). Standardized common and scientific names of the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent BUCEROS. Envis news letter: Avian Ecology & Inland Wetlands 6(1): 33pp.
Woodcock, M. (1984). Collins Hand Guide to The Birds of The Indian Sub-continent. Printed and bound by South China Printing Co. Hong Kong, 176pp.