On one mid-day during May 2003, while crossing over Lingambudhi tank bund on a personal work, we sighted White-necked storks, 43 in numbers spread over the marsh and green lawn. Being very regular visitors to this tank, WN Storks numbers surprised us. Thus unusual sighting, compelled us to spend a full day in the tank documenting entire day bird activity. It materialized on 23rd December 2003.
It was 5:30 A.M.; chilly, sky was filled with numerous glittering stars with planet Jupiter in the mid-sky and Saturn in the west sky. Standing below a medium sized Casurina tree, we could here Stone Curlew’s pick-wick in open grass land and alert calls of Red-wattle Lapwing from shore line. From clumps of Pongamia Spotted Owlett was making series harsh chuckles. From water surface very feeble quacks and shrills of Ducks, Coots, Grey Herons and Dabchicks were originating; overhead, on and off kwaak by Night Herons filled the air of chilled weather. A moving car’s headlight on sector shaped bund, from west to east, shown us the spread out ducks activity on water surface in the pitch dark night.
The early sunrays opened up the bounty in the lake –Spot-billed Pelican (5), Darter (2), Painted Stork (3), Grey Heron (18), Ducks (c. 1300), Coots, waders. From the canopies of Acacia and Sesbania trees, emerged roosting Black Drongos and Bee-eaters after nights’ halt. From north-east direction flocks of Cattle egrets, Common and Jungle Mynas flew leisurely over the tank. These birds roosts in Kukkarahalli (aerial distance 4.5 Km) and are found flying over Lingambudhi in the morning and evening regularly throughout the year. Their magnitude multiplies in winter. Quite often, in winter migratory Rosy Pastors & Chestnut-tailed Starlings join them.
In September, the tank was almost empty. Scanty rains there-after brought relief to the tank dwellers; water spread area marginally increased from 600 to 4400 mtr² (full capacity - 1.85*104 mtr²) submerging overgrown Cyperus reeds partly. Thus, tank bed is now accommodating Crakes, Rails, Herons and seldom inviting Marsh Harriers and Greater spotted Eagle. Though late, Coots & Grebes established their nests to proliferate their population.
Cormorants (Little, Great and Shag) arrived in small batches, circling at lower elevation assessed the prey base and landed. But after few minutes Shags (11) left the tank. Great Cormorants (22) also left the tank after half an hour, whereas Little Cormorants (5) and Darters (2) stayed throughout the day. They were often shifting the foraging location within lake. Egret, Pelicans, Waders do have this habit of shifting foraging ground. However Ducks, Coots sticks to a limited range near the place where they rest on mud/sand bar.
Water birds in the tank were identified and counted, 1238 nos. Around 8 am, as usual ducks started arriving in flocks from east direction, their numbers varying from 13 to 480 from Dalavay Lake. Dalavay Lake (aerial distance – 5 Km) is abode to wintering ducks and is situated on Mysore-Ooty road. Space constrain in City forced the Trucks and Lorries to outer-city for parking purpose. Once the heavy vehicles are started to go back to city in the morning, disturbs the ducks population residing closely and they leave the Dalavay tank and arrive in Lingambudhi tank.
Solitary Ruff and few Black-tailed Godwits arrived separately in the afternoon stayed for an hour and left. Little Stints were found flying displaying their distinctive contrast colors. However, we failed to notice their arrival.
A Greater Spotted Eagle (GSE) found thrice flying over the tank. Once, by stretching wings backwards, lowering legs, descended sharply. It was about to reach tank bed, but three Black Kites started attacking GSE. GSE on a defensive mood changed the direction and elevation, left the tank area.Marsh Harriers, 2 female and a male, carried out unsuccessful nineteen sorties over the lake disturbing water birds at different time of the day. They didn’t even succeed once. Almost after every dry run females landed in the Cyperus reeds, hiding and twice landed on dry shore along with male.
Floating vegetation (Duckweed) was plenty and handy, ducks were feeding on it very leisurely. At the most ducks may feed 4-5 hours a day. Ducks prefer morning hours for feeding. Once the stomach is full, they spend their time preening feathers or rest tucking their head back. Yellow and Grey Wagtails (89) were active throughout the day on short grass fields - walking slowly, flying in quick succession in undulating gait.
The mid-day was very hot and dry; hardly there was any bird activity in the tank. Scotching heat was intolerable even below the shadow of a tree. Dried ‘shit’ drove us away from the shade to find a descent place to sit and observe.
Just at the time of Sunset, 18:00 hrs, these boys with camera made such a noise that almost all the ducks took off, formed seven different large flocks, and started circling in opposite directions. Circling activity went on for few minutes. Some 800 ducks landed back, rest moved towards the direction from where they arrived in the morning. It was totally dark; all the evening walkers/visitors have left, we were the only left out. Forest guard reminded us to depart.
To verify what we saw on previous evening still persists, visited the tank well before the sunrise on next day. Found Pelican (4), Painted storks (2), Grey Herons (12) and Ducks (c. 800) were present. It was the same when we last observed it.
Total 44 species of water birds were observed, to mention few: Spot-billed Duck, Pintail, Shoveller, Common Pochard, Eurasian Wigeon, Common Teal and Lesser Whistling, Ruff, Black-tailed Godwit, Marsh Sandpiper, Little Ringed Plover and Little Stints.
Deapesh Mishra and Shivaprakash A