On 20th April 2013 I revisited Chavakad beach at Tiruvatra Puthan Kadapuram to find four Oystercatchers. A few weeks ago I found three of them at the same location and reported it earlier in Keralabirder internet group. The injured bird is still getting along though with a lot of difficulties in movement.
Meanwhile I got a chance to meet photographer Vijesh Vallikunnu who took its photos a year ago in 2012 summer. Mr Vijesh was kind enough to send me a few photos of the injured Eurasian Oystercatcher in trapped condition with a long pole like snare fixed to its left toe. This was taken in early 2012 from Tiruvatra Puthan Kadapuram by Vijesh. This year exactly a year after this take by Vijesh the bird seems to have lost its toe completely and got rid of the snare part.
We can imagine the pain and suffering this beautiful little creature had undergone for over a year now. It has gone back to Europe and come back to Kerala again. Will it make it next time in the coming winter? Only time can tell. Let us hope for the better and expect this challenged but brave bird in Kerala cost again.
Though it has got rid of the big stick like trap part, the injury and open wound seems to be sore even today and the infection may be fatal to its very life. I think experts and specialists can help in this ragard after carefully examining the images here and probably after field observations later.
A few small gulls and Lesser Crested Terns are also left in the beach in this advanced summer. Green Shanks and Sand Plovers are also common. I spent a whole afternoon at the beach and it seems that almost all the big gulls and other shorebirds have gone back because of the rising temperatures here. But the Oystercatchers are still lingering and why… perhaps the misery of their fellow is forcing them to stay on this alien shore in extreme heat.
The big gulls are here again. The awesome black hooded Pallas’s Gulls and the serene Heuglin’s Gulls are leading in the flocks. They take the eastern route through the Perar/Nila from Ponnani and are now resting in and around Kutipuram. On most days they are there in the middle of the river from morning to evening. At dusk they fly to the Purathur estuary and into the Arabian Sea. They come out of the blue and suddenly vanish into thin air…
A few years ago they peacefully rested on the sand beds of Purathur estuary during their winter visits to Kerala. But unfortunately the sand beds are no more. Those precious living grounds were literally erased from the river mouth for making a new fish landing on the southern bank of the river.
Sand dredging near the mouth of Perar called Purathur-Ponnani estuary has resulted in a serious ecological catastrophe. It is done in the name of development to make the bigger fish landing and to deepen the channel. But unfortunately it has seriously affected the estuary and related life forms severely. It is a gross encroachment into the estuary that changed its geography and water-scape and is proving to be an environmental wreck.
The ironic tragedy is that the new fish landing and reclaimed area amidst the river mouth is lying wasted. It is not benefiting the fisher folks or the vulnerable local people. It lacks basic provisions like electricity and water essential to attract fishers and traders. The dredged sand also lies wasted here. The banks near the Pally Kadavu are under the threat of erosion due to this unscientific encroached embankment into the river mouth and careless dredging.
I remember visiting the estuary on country boats with Dilip, Manoj and other friends during the previous migratory seasons. Purathur/Ponnani estuary was an asylum to thousands of migratory threatened birds from all over the world. I have seen curlews, whimbrels, godwits, shanks, sandpipers, plovers, turn-stones, gulls, terns, storks, herons and much much more here until a few years ago. The local people even talk about flamingos visiting the estuary.
The loss of Purathur-Ponnani estuary is a typical example of environmental devastation done in the name of development. It is a serious crime against nature and culture, against the environment and human beings at the same time. The people whose public revenue is utilized for all this “development” are the least benefited. The contractors, engineers and political mediators benefit and thrive on public fund. The extremely marginalized and impoverished people living on the periphery of the river are loosing their coconut palms, precious land and even little huts and homes due to erosion.
The suffering of the migratory birds is a sign. For what befalls on earth today will befall on her children tomorrow, as the chief of Seattle says. The eco-blind encroaching development has already affected the weaker and vulnerable human sections in the region who live on the edge of the land and water. Tomorrow it is going to touch the middlemen and middle classes and the developmental fanatics who are playing a safe game in the present by vampiring on public fund and natural resources. Unfortunately our media and academia are monopolized by people from this traditional safe upper middle strata of the undead.