Thursday, 3 May 2018

Have Kingfishers in Gurgaon Turned Vegan?

During the mornings while going for a jog, I would be startled to hear Kingfisher birds calling to each other from tree-tops. At first, I thought I was hearing things, but then I was able to spot them at different spots on top of trees. The first thought that occurred to me was what they were doing so far away from the nearest water body. There is no water body in sector 12, nor is there one on New Railway Road! Finally today, I decided to carry a small camera to take a snap of one of the Kingfishers that I have been seeing regularly.The first I spotted in Sector 12 was a green pigeon, and then there was nothing. It was later when I was bringing back Candy, our pet pug that I heard the unmistakable call of the Kingfisher that I realised that it was perched on top of a pole on a neighbour's house!

Surprisingly but true, I have been observing Kingfisher Birds close to my home, far away from any wetland or even a pond. What surprises me the most is to find kingfisher birds living on dry land, apparently suggesting that they have adapted to the changes in the ecology of the place they live in. Most probably, these are native species that have been feeding on aquatic creatures from ponds and water-holes that have long since dried up or been filled up. So then what are they living on, if not fish and tadpoles? The answer was provided by Mr Bhatia a colleague of mine who mentioned that even he had spotted a number of Kingfishers in his locality and that he had noticed them feeding on insects. Clearly, the Kingfishers in Gurgaon have switched their diets and they have taken to eating insects!

I did a check on Google Map to see how far the nearest pond or water hole was and came to know that the nearest one was not less than five kilometres away. It looks like Kingfishers in Gurgaon have either become independent of lakes and ponds or they have developed extraordinary reserves of energy to fly to and fro to the nearest water body, something that does not, in any case, make sense, for then the question would be, why would they really want to come back to the city?

The town has undergone a lot of change since the early eighties and we have seen the disappearance of vultures followed by sparrows. The sparrows and vultures seem to have been replaced by other species of birds like Kingfishers, Purple Sunbirds, the Indian Robin, and the ubiquitous pigeon. One wonders if this might not be the result of urbanisation, the concretisation of the city, draining out of wetlands, ponds and streams resulting in a change in the ecology of the land. The vultures were probably victims of DDT poisoning while the sparrows were driven out of Gurgaon by the pollution and lack of greenery, but what has brought Kingfishers into dry land is certainly difficult to explain!

This tussle for space between man and birds is reflected in the number of wild birds that have started making their appearance in the middle of the city, far away from the nearest wetland or even forest. The presence of Hornbills in Mianwali Colony of Gurgaon, or, for that effect Yellow feet Green pigeons, or Peacocks on the roofs of school buildings, all of them stand testimony to the fact that we have deprived wildlife of its rightful space.

Avians might change their food habits, and unless they have immense reserves of energy, they will be happy to consume whatever comes in handy. One might wonder if the Kingfisher birds in Gurgaon might not have turned vegan, what with the disappearance of wetlands and ponds in the city itself. 

No comments:

Post a Comment