RV Matters - 5 Aug 2018

Last week I discovered that one of our favourite birding routes – from the Car Park to BBT was no longer accessible with the new fence and gate coming up as a part of the security measures in the campus. While some of us may be disappointed with this new development, I think this may be, in some ways, helpful in protecting our natural habitats and vegetation. But this of course will depend on some additional measures we may need to adopt.

This area adjacent to the Car Park (Behind the Big Banyan Tree) has for long been the “darkest Africa” of the campus. With good undergrowth, lianas and some really old trees, this area was virtually out of bounds for a long time. The “Stinky Pond”, which stores all the water from the laundry provides moisture for growth of vegetation in the vicinity and we have in the past located several interesting birds in this area. For instance several flycatcher species – Bluethroated, Asian Brown, Brownbreasted (a passage migrant), Verditer, Asian Paradise and the Blacknaped Monarch – have all been seen in the proximity of the pond in the winter months. Tickell’s Thrush, a rare himalayan winter visitor, Whitethroated ground thrush, Green Leaf warbler and several other passerines too make this their winter home. This is also a great place to look out for Honey Buzzards.

However unplanned developments over the past few years have caused the vegetation in this area to shrink considerably as chunks of the wooded areas have been taken over for vermicomposting (and since abandoned), silos, underground water tank, parking space, dumping ground for construction materials, clearing the vegetation for laying pipes etc. etc. I feel with a little thought we could still revive the vegetation in this place and make it an interesting birding spot.

Perhaps it is high time we have a Management Plan for the campus and demarcate areas for conservation based on the species of unique vegetation and other life forms they support.

Dr Santharam