Lake Sirpur blushes, as older flamingos make a rare appearance in the city

Lake Sirpur on the outskirts of Indore She has been blushing lately, a strange blush, that lasts longer than usual. And the reason behind this, is the unusual visit of the great flamingos to the city. The phenomenon is rare and has not happened in many years. The news has been spread by the community of birdwatchers and naturalists of the city, as all are rushing to witness the spectacle of the magnificent birds that walk on their delicate feet in the marshes. In the midst of all the excitement, some crucial questions arose. This is not a migratory season, so what do birds do so far from their regular habitat? Is this just a visit, or are the birds looking for a permanent residence along the marshes of Malwa ? And most importantly, is this due to climate change? This is what bird watchers and city experts have to say.

Migration or not?

The largest flamingos are usually found in the salt marshes, salt marshes of the Indian subcontinent, Africa and the Middle East. Typically, their migration is local, as they feed only in shallow waters coastal lagoons and the season ranges from November to April. This season - June to August end - is their breeding season. It is a rare phenomenon to witness their presence in Indore in a non-migratory season. Generally they are in their usual habitat at Kutch, Sambhar lake Rajasthan and Mumbai, during this time, says ornithologist and conservationist, Ajay Gadikar. And if this is a search for a new habitat, is yet to be seen. It looks like a stopover right now. They thrive only in saline water where they find algae, which is essential for their pink colouration and health. I think they are just taking a break on a longer journey, says Ravi Sharma, wildlife activist and birder. If at all the birds stay longer than 15 days, then we may consider the change in habitation angle, he adds.

Sirpur providing abundance of food for the flamingos.

As birdwatchers, wildlife photographers and citizens flock to Lake Sirpur, there is one thing everyone is noticing: birds have not stopped eating since they landed. They landed on Sunday, eight birds in total. And they ate continuously the first two days, ate as they had not eaten in days, says Colonel Neel Gadikar, sharing his observation. Clearly, there is food availability and the water quality is optimal for the flamingos in the lake. A few years ago, we only saw a couple of these birds in Yeshwant sagar. But this time, it's a better number, he adds. The attractive birds are actually filter feeders. They stand in shallow water, shake the mud while putting their heads in it. Then they raise their heads to filter small shrimp, microorganisms, blue-green algae, etc., which is their food. Over the years, perhaps due to deposition or contamination, the lake water has become brackish, which suits these birds. And their continuous feeding during these days indicates that they had been looking for their type of food. But his unusual migration for food raises a question. Does not their traditional habitat provide them with enough food? We must seriously consider this phenomenon to see if the wetlands of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra is in poor condition, explains Ajay.


The flock has been attracting Indore ans' attention

Ever since word traveled about the arrival of the blush feathered friends, Indore have been flocking to the lake to see them in person. We have traveled to Rajasthan bird sanctuary and Odisha to see these lovely birds. Had never imagined we will be able to see them in a good number in our hometown, says Akansha Joshi, an engineering student, who went to see them with her friends on Tuesday, after getting to know their arrival from social media. It has also drawn out amateur and wildlife photographers in large numbers, to capture the magnificent color and activities of the flamingos. Avi Jain, a civil engineer with a passion for wildlife photography, states, I got to know about them only by Monday after the word traveled, and since then, I have visited twice with my friends and alone, to capture the birds at their candid best Now that social media has been filling up with their pictures and news has traveled across the city, more people are visiting to see them. It is, after all, remove a rare occurrence in Indore, I concluded.

Alarms for climate change?

While residents have had a gala time spotting the great flamingos in their unusual habitat, experts insist on looking below the surface. Birds and animals are always the first to hear about any change in climate. Such unusual behavior has historically been indicative of climate change. It can be considered both positive and negative. Positive because our pastures are greener, but negative that their natural habitat probably does not provide them enough, says conservationist Ajay Gadikar. However, he added that the conclusive data can only be obtained by making a more extensive and in-depth study of the factors. Photos: avi jain