Wednesday, November 08, 2023

Pt. Calimere

If you pay attention to the coastline of Tamil Nadu you'll see two short arms extending down towards Sri Lanka. The southern one of the two arms is the Ram Setu, important in mythology as the bridge that lord Ram and his army built to get to Lanka in their effort to rescue Sita devi. The stubby arm to the north may not have the same religious significance but may be even more important in its role in bird ecology. Pt Calimere, or to use its more charming local name, Kodiakkarai, happens to have a very important place in the lives of birds that migrate in the Central Asian Flyway. Birds breeding in Siberia, Mongolia, and Tibet and migrating to Sri Lanka, Africa and other warmer parts further south stop over to refuel at Pt Calimere. The relatively undisturbed habitat with nutrient-rich shores are vitally important in the seasonal journeys undertaken by dozens of species in this route.

Bird migration is one of nature's great mysteries and humanity has spent significant effort in understanding how the birds are able to perform these sophisticated feats of navigation. We are far from the answers but we are beginning to understand the details of these journeys through the efforts of researchers who have dedicated their lives to unravelling these secrets. I got a chance to spend time with such ecologists at Pt Calimere, watching the process of painstakingly banding and ringing birds, in an effort to document the migratory behaviours passing through these parts.

I've seen these rings on birds while photographing them at other sites and I've always felt annoyed at the sight. The rings are visually unaesthetic and remind you of human interference, and the process of tagging the birds is probably stress-inducing for the birds involved. We also don't know how the birds feel about having to lug these rings around on their flights. But we are well and truly in the anthropocene and wishing for zero interference from humans is not a luxury we can afford given the urgent need for custodianship that's needed to preserve our ecological heritage and pass it along to the newer generations. I came away with a deeper appreciation for the process of ringing the birds, and in the larger picture, the work of the people dedicated to the protection of these species and their habitat. 


Uma Rajanna said...

Bird migration has always mystified me and it was such a relief to know atleast some from our species are regarding the process seriously! An enlightening view on the subject Deepak👍

Vani said...

Very insightful. One of our sons, Adi, is into birds and may already know about this. But will share with him.