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2I[WPIXXIV JSV&MVH[EXGLIVWVol. 45 No. 2 March April 2005CONTENTSANote fromthe PubIisherViolent Tsunamis andBenevolent MangrovesArticIesBirding Trip to Rayalaseema Area, byK. Mrutyumjaya RaoNesting of Vultures at Girnar Hill, Junagadh (Gujarat),by R.V. Devkar and M.D. VisavadiaBird life at ndian nstitute of Spices Research, Calicut,Kerala, by S. DevasahayamSightings of Gyps (Vultures) and Aquila (Eagles)at Dhabla Pound and Thol Bi rd Sanctuary, byyer Mohan .KCorrespondenceSightings of Whitebellied Sea Eagle (Haliaeetusleucogaster) in Kumbakonam, by Gomathi. NSighting of Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus)in a flock, by Dr. Anil PimplapureBirding in office, by Dr. Rajiv SaxenaSpurwinged/River/Lapwing/Plover, by Dr. Rajiv SaxenaAdaptations in Nesting, by Snehal PatelGathering of Steppe eagles (Aquila nipalensis), byAshok Mashru.Winter Migratory Eurasian Waterfowl Wader EurasianCurlew, Numenius arquata (Linnaeus) at nland SalineWetland, by S.P. Bhatnagar and Satish Kumar ShuklaBook ReviewPictorial Handbook - Shorebirds of Kerala, (ncludingGulls and Terns), by Sashikumar, C et. al.News FIashvory Billed Woodpecker Sighted in North AmericaVol. 45 No. 2 March April 2005S. Theodore BaskaranDr. A.M.K. BharosHarish R. BhatDr. S.P. BhatnagarDr. A.K. ChakravarthyDr. S. DevasahayamDr. Joseph GeorgeB.S. KulkarniArvind MishraFl.Lt. S. Rangaswami (Retd.)K. Mrutumjaya RaoA.N. Yellappa ReddyDr. Rajiv SaxenaS. SridharDr. Abraham VerghesePubIisher : S. SridharEditoriaI BoardLull before the storm - Raiganj Bird Sanctuary - Photos Arunayan SharmaA Note from the PubIisherDear fellow birdwatchers,VioIent Tsunamis and BenevoIent MangrovesAll of us are aware of the violent nature of the tsunami thatengulfed vast coastlines along ndonesia, Thailand, SriLanka, ndia, Andaman and Nicobar and Somalia in theaftermath of a massive underground earthquake in the BandaAceh, on the adjacent coast of Sumatra on 26thDecember2004. The tsunami threat has been festering for years andit ultimately erupted without warning and the lay people alongthe coastline had little time to respond with alacrity.There is a widespread view that, much of the damage couldhave been contained on that fateful day, if the naturalMangrovephyte and Psammophyte (sand pl ants)communities had been left intact along the coastlines,deltas, estuaries, backwaters, bay islands and lagoons.Reports have suggested that some areas of mangroves notonly survived the tsunami onslaught very well, but also offeredsignificant protection for adjacent coastal areas. Accordingto Mike Crosby, Research and Data Manager, Birdlifenternational, Asia Division (in World Birdwatch, Vol. 27 No1, March 2005, visit for details), the town ofKrabi in southern Thailand was in all probability spared fromcolossal destruction because of the adjoining mangrovesforests a precious lesson for preventing calamities in thefuture. There is a rationale behind this incidence, whichcannot be fathomed with our limited knowledge.ndication is also available to the fact that forest habitats,particularly around small islands in the Nicobar slands andSumatra, had also taken the brunt of the furious tsunamiwaves. However, some forests might die due to the intrusionof saltwater. Yet, mangroves have the capacity to regeneratethemselves over a period of time.The first global environmental assessment published byUNEP has concluded that healthy coastal ecosystems, suchas coral reefs, mangroves, other coastal vegetation andintact sand dune systems have the ability to protect peopleand property. Mangroves function as a natural hedge orbarrier in reducing coastal erosion; suppress storm surges,cyclonic floods and wind velocities. The presence ofNewsletter for Birdwatchers, 45 (2), 2005 19mangroves with the stilt root system, along the river banksand estuarine mouth, functions as a tide breaker that preventshigh speed saline tides and waves and protects adjacentinland vegetation and properties. For this reason, theDecember 26thtragedy is all the more compelling us, toconserve and restore the decimated mangrovephyte andpsammophyte communities, that had once upon a time stoodas sentinels all along the ndian coasts, making themimpregnable to the furious tsunami waves and cyclones.One thing that is sadly clear is that the loss of mangrovecommunity has affected the lives of many birds and otherrelated organisms in the marine-food chain. The slide beganwith the removal of crowns from the mangroves for fodderand other household purposes. The thick foliage and crownsare crucial for mangrove-dependent species such assandpi pers, storks, herons, egrets, bitterns, godwits,curlews, plovers, oystercatchers, terns, gulls and snipes.They not only take refuge and roost amid the foliage butalso build nests. They enrich the mangrove habitats withtheir nitrogen-rich droppings.ndia has 6740 sq. kms of littoral regions including deltas,estuaries, backwaters, bay islands and lagoons; collectivelyclassified as mangals (Mangrovephytes), which is the thirdlargest in the world after ndonesia (25000 sq.kms) andAustralia (11620 sq.kms). But a significant portion of themangrovephyte habitat is degraded or lost and the remainingportion is said to be tethering on the brink of eradication.Just for instance, Kerala had around 700 sq.kms of Mangroveforests all along the coastal areas, associated withestuarine and backwater system. But, at present Kerala smangrove wealth is reduced to a mere 17 sq.kms; confinedmostly to the northern districts of Kannur and Kasargod.The uses and values of mangroves and the mangroveecosystem are many. Nypa fruticans is a potential alcoholyielding palm; which has good prospects as an alternativeautomobile fuel. Apart from the utilitarian aspect in theconstruction field, many mangrove species are useful to awide variety of professions. The Rizophoraceae membersproduce tannins, adhesives and special glues. t is apparentthat Sundarbans is named after the Sundari tree (Heritierasps). This mangrove species has good fiber yieldi ngproperties currently in use as flooring and paneling material.Decoction fromthe fruits of Xylocarpus reportedly has breastcancer curative properties. Exoecaria and Sonneratia aresoft wooded and are used as alternate to wood pulp in thepaper industry. Nypa fruticans produces sugar, alcohol,vinegar, fermented drinks and its leaves are traditionally usedas thatching material and due to its waxy coating, it lasts adecade or more. Decoction from the bark is used in thetreatment of diarrhoea, dysentery, to stop bleeding, and tocure leprosy. Bark and sap from Cerbera are purgative innature and the oil extracted from its fruits is used in thetreatment of rheumatism. Pneumatophores of Bruguieraproduce aromatic substance. Avicennia is a good fodderfor cattle, and is said to increase milk yield. Sonneratiafruits are eaten by deer. Fruits of Avicennia and Sonneratiaare good fish food. Marine fish, crustaceans, shellfish,amphibians, birds and mammals are dependent on themangrove ecosystem. The gross production of phytoplankton,the primary producer in the mangrove ecosystem is alwaysfound to be higher than in other oceanic ecosystems. Thelitter fall and its consequent transformation as detritus resultsin copious supply of productive nutrition to the ecosystem.Mangroves have the capacity to trap debris, and protectrich organic soil washed down through river system to thesea and redouble as rich nursery grounds for many marinefish, invertebrates, mollusks, birds, reptiles and mammals.The Royal Bengal tiger of the Sundarbans, the ProboscisMonkey of Borneo and the Olive Riddly turtles of Orissacoast are encountered only in mangrove habitats. Mangrovesalso regulate rich organic-laden water flow, stabilize thealluvial soils brought in fromthe rivers, and fix the sedimentsof the sea with detritus. Thus they are the richest productiveecosystem for sustaining marine and estuarine biodiversity.Bacterio-fungal decomposers thrive and convert mangroveli tters into consumable protein which is used by fi shpopulation and they ultimately end up with the primaryconsumers in the food chain such as tigers and crocodiles.Young hatchli ngs of Ol i ve Riddl y turtle have shownremarkable development even up to eight months in themangrove waterway, utilising the mangrove detritus in theirdiet. Mangroves also function as a buffer against the spreadof oil-slicks washed down from the seas. Some mangrovespecies are said to grow faster when bathed with the tidalwaters enriched with urban effluents. This intrinsic ability ofmangroves has long been advocated as a possible remedyfor treating urban sewage and effluents. Such a performancehas been parti cul arl y noti ced i n Machi l i pat tanam,Nizampattanam and the old Salt lake system of Kolkata,where the mangroves have demonstrated their capacity toameliorate pollution levels.The regulation mechanism incorporated in