A marathon bird survey was carried out recently around the Kaiga nuclear power plant in Karnataka. The survey area extended up to 42 km around Kaiga and included terrain types that could host aquatic, wetland, grassland, raptor, and land birds. The North Karnataka Birders’ Network and the Bangalore Birds ornithology group took part.
The survey spotted a total of 213 different birds so far in the area surrounding the power generating station, which is about 17 km from the Kaiga township in Mallapuram. Of these, the bird-watchers have so far positively identified 162 species, 20 species have to be confirmed, and the rest are yet to be identified. The species seen at Kaiga included various swallows, hornbills, starlings, eagles, falcons, owls, and buzzards.
A recently published paper by Venkanna Babu Guthula and others of the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, on the biodiversity significance of small habitat patches found that more than half of Indian bird species are to be found on academic campuses. The researchers surveyed 335 Indian academic campuses and found 779 bird species, with an average of 88 species a campus. The species included five critically endangered, seven endangered, 17 vulnerable, and 33 near-threatened species.
“Non-academic campuses such as the army, industrial and private establishments could further add to such spaces,” the authors said. The enhanced avian diversity around nuclear power plants falls into that category while also highlighting, as a proxy marker, the health of the environment around nuclear plants.