Source: The Hindu
The demoiselle cranes fly around 20,000 feet above the Himalayas and traverse 4,000 km to reach south India from Eurasia.— photos: by special arrangement
Thousands of migratory birds have arrived to spend winter on the serene backwaters of the Karanja reservoir in Bidar district.
But what has surprised birdwatchers here is the presence of innumerable demoiselle cranes, which have descended on the marshy lands.
“It was a treat for us,” says Vinayak Vangapalli, a member of the Bidar Photographic Society, whose members first noted the birds. “We went trekking and were surprised to find them. The land was so full of these birds that the soil looked littered with gray and white stones,” he said.
Mr. Vangapalli, fellow-member Vivekanand Hallikhedkar, and their friends spent hours clicking photographs of the winged visitors. “We started in the morning and came home only at night. We were happy to have sighted the rare birds,” he said. The amateur ornithologist said these birds were occasionally seen in water bodies in Bagalkot till now, but there was no record of them being spotted in Bidar. The demoiselle crane (Anthropoides virgo) or krauncha pakshi (Koonj in Hindi) enjoys a special place in the Indian mythology. It is believed that the killing of a krouncha pakshi by a hunter inspired Walmiki to write the Ramayana.
These cranes undertake a highly risky migration. They fly around 20,000 feet above the Himalayas and traverse 4,000 kilometres to reach south India from Eurasia. They have to avoid being hunted by eagles and other predators. They stay till March and return home by April.
The backwaters spread across five villages in Bidar taluk play host to many birds. Some varieties like the demoiselle cranes stay for 100 to 140 days between seasons. Flamingos, great cormorant, kentish plover, red crested pochard, northern pintail, black-tailed godwit, glossy ibis and other birds were spotted in and around the reservoir this year.
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