I remember a small group of five Eurasian Oystercatchers at Chavakad beach during the last migratory season 2011-12. I made a trip to Chavakad and Ponnani while teaching at Government College Thrissur then. Yesterday, 7 April 2013 when I revisited Tiruvathra Puthan Kadapuram on the Chavakad coast from Kutipuram through Ponnani, I saw the same group again. The injured bird who lost its left foot was among the group. This limping bird provided the vital link to relocate them after a whole year. This time I could see only three in the group from European shores perhaps.
There were a small group of Stints wading along the shore. I followed them to find a group of 100 gulls and terns. They included Brown and Black Headed Gulls, a few Yellow-legged Gulls and Lesser Crested Terns. Gull-billed and Whiskered Terns were also seen. A solitary Whimbrel was also with the gulls.
It seems that the migratory birds, most of them have gone back because of the unusually rising temperatures in Kerala. Nowadays no gulls are seen in Kutipuram or high up on the Perar. They used to be here till early March. Even terns are rare now and waders have also declined in number.
The unusually hot summer and encroaching of the dry weather through the Palghat pass from Tamil Nadu and the lack of summer showers in Malabar could be the reasons. The increased deforestation and mining on the western ghats bordering grasslands and devastation of sholas and evergreeen forests could be the reason of this unusual dry spell and totoal change in climate and bird life.
Bekal is a green paradise rocked by the roaring waves during the Monsoon on the northern coast of Kerala. The historic fort at Bekal was a natural red soiled mount that was refashioned into a fort in the middle ages. It is a geo-politically strategic location at the edge of the Arabian Sea, some 15 km south of Kasaragod.
The Bekal fort was originally conceived and developed by the Mushika kings of the Ezhimala and the Kolathiris in the 15th and 16th centuries. It became part of Bednur Naiks’ citadels in the west coast for some time. Shivappa Naik rebuilt it and strengthened it. Later it fell into the hands of Haider Ali, Tipu Sultan and the British after the fall of Mysore. Now the site is with the Archeological Survey of India and has immense historical and ecological importance. The adjacent village is called Pallykara even today and it is also important to remember that Mushika dynasty was a Buddhist one originally.
In monsoon the place turns out to be an ethereal landscape of green and blue. The mosses and ferns that grow on the red stones of the walls and fortifications and the green grass that engulfs the whole hillock inside and outside the fort make it a cradle of soothing hues, fresh and throbbing with life and desire. From the top of the watch tower at the centre of the fort you can have a panoramic view of the sea and the land. The coastline is visible beyond expectations to both sides.
The place is also marked by increased bird activity. Even at the peak of the monsoon we can see plenty of Brahmany Kites flying around the coast. Some House Swifts have colonized the old walls of the ruined fort. Plenty of Plain and Ashy Prinias are also found in the thickets and bush within the fort.
But I was amazed by the sight of a solitary White-bellied Sea Eagle in late June here. It was gently cruising along the coastline on a Sunday morning in the last week of June 2010. I visited the site again today (Sunday, August 1, 2010). This time it was evening just around 6. I caught sight of this magnificent and graceful bird flying above the coastal waters.
It was a majestic sight to watch its gray upper parts and whitish underparts. The white patch at the edge of the tail was also distinct. I was doubly delighted to watch two more birds join the first one. They were having a fight like scene with honking calls and swift movement in mid air. I got a few distant shots and birds dispersed and vanished in seconds.
Anyway I was lucky to get a glimpse of this rare and threatened bird which once hovered all along our long coastline. I remember people like Dr Jaffer Palot writing and talking about this bird and the decline in its population mainly due to increased human interventions and pollution in the coastal belt. It is clear that they are struggling for their survival still out there.