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  • Aditya Singh

SOS From Grey-Headed Swamphen

This is about loss of habitat.


Green before the digger came…

This is an SOS message from this bird and the other species that live and breed in Madiwala lake, Bangalore.

Last year in May, I shot videos of several Grey-Headed Swamphens feeding their chicks. The Swamphen family lived in the Madiwala lake area, not far from where I live in Bangalore – not the main lake, but in the buffer area in the western part of the lake. It was not an easy life because a large number of predatory birds also lived here and were on constant lookout for any movement. So our birds and their young ones remained hidden under the dense vegetation. Somehow managing their tough situation, living and breeding here, calling it home.


Home and feeding ground for other species as well…

I must also mention here that there were other birds too, that I had observed over the past year – Cattle Egrets, Pond Herons, Purple Heron, Grey Heron, Common Myna, Jungle Myna, Little and Median Egrets and Bronze Winged Jacana.

I think I caught a glimpse of a Rail too. Late in the evening, Night Herons would feed here. Even buffaloes loved it and were often brought in here to feed and cool off while a flock of Jungle Mynas rode on them trying to get a better viewpoint from their higher perch.


Buffalo cooling off and feeding…

Dense vegetation provided much needed protection to most of these species – while also offering food.

In the surrounding trees, Greater Coucal, Asian Koel, Spotted Dove, Brahminy and Black Kites, Jungle and House crows often perched.


Digger at work…destroying the vegetation…

Their luck seems to have run out this year. The day before yesterday, the large digger cleared up the entire vegetation in the area and left. And as it rained heavily that day, the entire cleared up area was full of water. Yesterday, again there was a storm and now the ‘cleared’ area itself looks like a lake. Last year also we had similar rains but the vegetation in the area soaked up the water so no such ‘lake’ was seen. And just to think of it, Monsoons are yet to arrive this year.

In the meanwhile I saw the poor swamphens looking at their former home from the edge of the ‘lake’ in pouring rain.

Looking for their home…

I’ve heard that the plan is to make a biodiversity park but I am not sure about destroying the existing biodiversity to make way for a park. Don’t all these bird species count as biodiversity?

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