Russia-Ukraine conflict responsible for fewer migratory birds in Haridwar
With a biting chil taking North India under its grip slowly but steadily, migratory birds are starting to nest in Haridwar after a long flight, quite literally across the seven seas.
HARIDWAR: With a harsh winter setting in over the North Pole, migratory birds from Russia have started flocking in to Haridwar in Uttarakhand, thousands of miles away from their original habitat. However, the exotic fowls flying in from far-off lands are a little less in number than recorded in previous years and their arrival, too, was delayed by at least 3 weeks, said a globally renowned ornithologist.
With a biting chil taking North India under its grip slowly but steadily, migratory birds are starting to nest in Haridwar after a long flight, quite literally across the seven seas. The exotic fowls can be seen flocking at various ghats of Haridwar, a holy city popular with pilgrims and tourists alike.
At this time every year, lakhs of pilgrims and tourists from across India and overseas arrive in the holy city for a 'darshan' of 'Maa Ganga'. Along with devotees and visitors, birdwatchers, too, arrive at the temple town in numbers to watch the migratory birds nesting in the midst. The people of Haridwar, too, keenly await the arrival of the exotic birds at this time every year.
However, the ongoing armed conflict with Russia has not only seen people in the war-ravaged country scrambling to nearest bomb shelters but also delayed the arrival of the migratory birds. On the relatively fewer numbers of migratory birds arriving from polar countries this year, Dinesh Bhatt, a globally renowned ornithologist from the Gurukul Kangri University, said, "The air in Russia and its midst has been rendered extremely toxic from the shelling and bombing in the ongoing conflict of Ukraine. Radiation levels have also gone up, making the air extremely hazardous for the migratory birds. Hence, relatively fewer number of birds took the long flight from their orginal habitat to Hardiwar this year."
"Their mating season started a few months ago. Due to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, the heat, smoke and toxic dust in the air must have affected them in a big way. I fear that many of them might even have died," Bhatt said.
Calling the exotic birds 'limitless and boundless', Bhatt said they serve as "ambassadors, connecting different countries and cultures". Bhatt said from time immemorial, these birds have been taking the long flight to India from their original habitats in Russia, Mongolia and other surrounding areas of China and Tibet.
"Our's is a tropical country and these birds are flying in form colder regions. As soon as it starts snowing in their homelands, around October, they start migrating," the ace ornithologist said. He said a 'biological clock' determines the flight patterns of these birds, adding that as the mercury plummets and their homelands start freezing over, it is a signal for them to flap their wings and take off for foreign shores.
The birds then fly continuously, over months and for thousands of kilometres, to reach the tropical countries of India, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka, among others. Bhatt said, "As much as 19 per cent of known bird species migrate every year. India receives a majority of Ruddy Shelducks, Red-crested Pochards, Northern Pintails, Wagtails, Storks, Gulls, Pieds, Geese, Palla's Fish Eagle and Flamingos during the migration season."
He added that the season change triggers a shift in the birds' physiology and minds and the main reason for migration is lack of food and the decrease in temperature. Even birds from the upper Himalayan region, especially Flamingoes in the Mansarovar region, fly past Mt. Everest in search of food. (ANI)