66 bird species documented in Eco Park near Kolkata

The first GPS tagged photographic documentation of bird diversity at Eco Park has been prepared to make it a bird sanctuary for enthusiasts and bird watchers

Over 66 bird species, including resident and migratory, have been recorded roosting in the relatively open and safe pockets of New Town Ecopark, adjacent to Kolkata.

This photographic documentation marked by the Global Positioning System, a first, aims to promote Eco Park as a “bird refuge” for ornithologists, bird photographers, nature journalists, enthusiasts and bird watchers.

There has previously been no background documentation on bird diversity in the Eco Park. Such documentation is necessary to implement long-term conservation methodologies and maintain the ecological balance in the heart of the city.

This GPS tagged bird diversity photographic material was prepared by the non-profit Nature Environment & Wildlife Society (NEWS) and the West Bengal Housing Infrastructure Development Corporation (WBHIDCO), a public sector company.

It would promote the visibility of bird species and their richness within the Eco Park and position it as a model for understanding biodiversity.

Common snipe is spotted with Chinese nylon kite thread tangled in claws. Photo: Pradyut Choudhury

Bird species captured in Eco Park video footage include:

  • Alexandrian Parakeet (Near Threatened according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature or IUCN)
  • Blue-throated Flycatcher
  • Black bittern
  • Cinnamon Bittern
  • Eurasian Torcol
  • Wood wagtail
  • Green-crowned Warbler
  • Little coucal
  • Olive-backed pipit
  • Stork with open beak
  • Eastern Reed Warbler
  • Pheasant-tailed Jacana
  • Red avadavat
  • Scaly bellied munia
  • Siberian Stone
  • Wagtail

Birds are potential indicators of the ecological aspects of any habitat. Several species of birds have abandoned their natural habitat due to the increasing demand for urban development.

Birds also face other threats such as pollution, tree felling, degradation of grasslands, massive use of non-biodegradable products, entanglement in Chinese nylon thread, use of pesticides and other toxic chemicals.

The magnificent blue-throated flycatcher is a rare visitor to Eco Park.  Photo: Sumit Kumar MoulikThe magnificent blue-throated flycatcher is a rare visitor to Eco Park. Photo: Sumit Kumar Moulik

Ajanta Dey, NEWS co-secretary and IUCN member in India, told this reporter:

You can’t avoid urbanization, but it has to be sustainable. These urban parks are designed to include aspects of biodiversity. They entertain visitors. They can also be designed to integrate biodiversity, birds and plants.

The data is a checklist of birds found in and around the park. The area covers 480 acres or 194 hectares.

Resident avian species are visible year round in the four seasons around this region. However, migratory birds are only spotted during the time they are en route to other locations.

A local resident, Dr Daschoudhury said the whole region was a Bheris (fish farming area) a few decades ago. Many Siberian birds have landed in the wetland covered with salt meadows, salt marshes, ponds and sewage farms.

Roost and reproduction depend on the availability of food. The birds have become accustomed to the territory but development has led to many species of birds disappearing from the region. This is how the city of Salt Lake City was born and got its name.

Eco Park in Newtown is the largest park in Kolkata as well as India. It was established as an urban forest ecosystem and to encourage sustainable ecotourism by the government of West Bengal.

The park, located in Action Zone II of New Town, the newly developed sister city of Calcutta, is an extensive part of the East Calcutta Wetland, a Ramsar site. Therefore, it carries a story of an excellent urban and semi-urban ecosystem.

Eco Park is divided into 10 parts:

  • Landscaping or gardening (42.57 hectares)
  • Lake (50.19 Ha)
  • Prairie (14.99 Ha)
  • Wet or marshy area (27.86 Ha)
  • Canopy cover (6.05 ha)
  • Bushy area / Butterfly garden (2.41 Ha)
  • Golf course (9.78 Ha)
  • Other water bodies (3.4 ha)
  • Construction (12.04 Ha)
  • House (13.46 Ha)

Debashis Sen, Managing Director of WBHIDCO Ltd, said: “Our next goal is to create a biodiversity heritage area in the Eco Park.

In particular, the area is home to several mammals, including the marsh mongoose, the small Indian mongoose, the palm civet and the small Indian civet. Some species of reptiles such as the water monitor and the yellow monitor, which is an endangered species, have been reported to support around 100 plant species, including fragmented grasslands in this area.

The Wood Wagtail is a rare passerine bird found in the Eco Park. Photo: Sumit Kumar Moulik

Dey said, “The ecosystem of this prairie needs to be restored as it is home to turtles, lizards, mammals, snakes and birds. If humans can have spaces for themselves, we should give them their breathing spaces as well. “

Eco Park was inaugurated by Mamata Banerjee, Chief Minister of West Bengal on December 29, 2012. However, it was opened to visitors on January 1, 2013.

About 6,000-7,000 people visit the park on weekdays. However, the number increases to 16,000-17,000 visitors on weekends.

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