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A Pioneering Survey of Waders and Seabirds in Modhava Coastal Area, Kachchh District, Gujarat State, India

Authors:
  • Gujarat Ecology Society

Abstract and Figures

To understand the shorebird profile of Kachchh coastal area under industrial pressure, we conducted a study to get shorebird profile of a portion of it spread over 5- 6 km coastline of Modhava beach in Mundra Taluka, Kachchh District. Field work for the study was carried out from April 2015 to March 2016. A total of 45 species were recorded along Modhava beach that belonged to 5 orders and 11 families. Most species were small or large waders belonging to the families Scolopacidae (16 species of sandpipers, shanks, godwits etc), Charadriidae (6 species of plovers)] and Ardeidae (3 species of herons, egrets etc.). Other relatively dominant family was the seabird family Laridae (with 11 species of gulls and terns). Of the remaining families, 2 families were represented by 2 species each and 5 families were represented by one species each. Of the total recorded species (i.e., 45 species), 2 species of birds were globally threatened (1 Endangered and 1 Vulnerable) whereas eight species were Near Threatened as per IUCN’s Red Data List of Threatened Species.
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Jalaplavit (ISSN 2321-1881), Vol.7, No.1, March 2017
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Listen to the Young Voices
Akshit R.Suthar 1 (Gujarat Ecological Society) & Dilipsinh Chudasama
1 Akshitsuthar@gmail.com,
Abstract
To understand the shorebird profile of Kachchh coastal area under industrial
pressure, we conducted a study to get shorebird profile of a portion of it spread over 5-
6 km coastline of Modhava beach in Mundra Taluka, Kachchh District. Field work for the
study was carried out from April 2015 to March 2016. A total of 45 species were
recorded along Modhava beach that belonged to 5 orders and 11 families. Most species
were small or large waders belonging to the families Scolopacidae (16 species of
sandpipers, shanks, godwits etc), Charadriidae (6 species of plovers)] and Ardeidae (3
species of herons, egrets etc.). Other relatively dominant family was the seabird family
Laridae (with 11 species of gulls and terns). Of the remaining families, 2 families were
represented by 2 species each and 5 families were represented by one species each. Of
the total recorded species (i.e., 45 species), 2 species of birds were globally threatened
(1 Endangered and 1 Vulnerable) whereas eight species were Near Threatened as per
IUCN’s Red Data List of Threatened Species.
Introduction
Waders (i.e., shorebirds and
large waders) and seabirds are integral
components of coastal wetland
ecosystems. Many of them forage over
large geographic areas and feed at
different trophic levels. Thus, they are
often considered to be effective
indicators of the health of the
ecosystem of which they are part.
Seabirds have been used to monitor
pollution. and effects of fisheries
management practices. Moreover,
seabirds show ecological responses to
changes in aquatic productivity or
climate change.
The check-list of birds of Kachchh
district was prepared by several
ornithologists from time to time;
notably among them were Lester, Salim
Ali, Bates, Ripley, Himmatsinhji and
Maharao. As per Tiwari and Sen,
Kachchh district supports more than 300
species of birds which include waders
and seabirds. The Modhava beach,
where the present survey was carried
out, is situated in Mundra Taluka
of
Kachchh District in Gujarat State. It
provides an excellent habitat for small
A Pioneering Survey of Waders and Seabirds in Modhava
Coastal Area, Kachchh District, Gujarat State, India
Jalaplavit (ISSN 2321-1881), Vol.7, No.1, March 2017
27
waders (shorebirds), large waders
(herons, egrets etc.) and seabirds (gulls
and terns). They utilize coastal wetlands
with marshy shores and sandy beaches.
Several migratory birds visit this coastal
area every year during winter. Keeping
in view the conservation value of
shorebirds and this shorebird habitat,
systematic efforts were made by us
during April 2015March 2016 with the
objective to have an overview of the
diversity and threats to shorebirds in
this landscape.
Study Area
Kachchh district is a crescent
shaped peninsula located on the north-
western part of Gujarat state. The term
“Kachchh” is derived from
“Katchua or
Kachbo”
meaning Tortoise. It is the
largest district of India spreading over
45,653 sq. km. It is located between the
latitudes 22o 44 11” to 24 o 41 25” N
and the longitudes 68 09 46” to 71 54
47” E. Large portion of Kachchh district
and this coastal area functions as an
abode to innumerable waders and
seabirds especially in winter. The
ecological features of the Kachchh
includes long coastline of 405 km,
undulating terrain, saline marshy desert,
pristine grasslands, hillocks and bets.
Modhava coastal area in Mundra
taluka, Kachchh district (marked in the
Fig.1) consisted of nearly 5 km wide
intertidal zone having mangrove forest,
sandy shore and rocky habitat. The area
had been traditionally used for fishing
and salt-manufacturing, but in the
modern times, it is increasingly used for
industrial development.
is located in arid bio-geographic zone.
The northern shore of the Gulf of
Kachchh is located in Kachchh district
Kachchh Coast is one of the rare
ecological zones in the world having
rich bio-diversity. It comprises of
mangroves, Coral reefs, Mudflats,
Seaweeds, Commercial Fishes and
several rare marine species. A
prominent feature of the Kutch Coast
is the vast intertidal zone comprising
a network of creeks, estuaries and
mudflats. The Kutch coast provides
conducive environment for several sea
based traditional occupations.
(Source:<http://www.ceeindia.org/cee
/pdf_files/ kutch_coast_study.pdf>)
Jalaplavit (ISSN 2321-1881), Vol.7, No.1, March 2017
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G
Fig.1 Modhava coastal area in Mundra taluka, Kachchh district
Material and Methods
Observations were made by
conducting field visits at regular time-
interval. Field work was conducted from
April 2015 to March 2016. Field visits
were conducted every month during the
study period and all the three distinct
seasons (i.e. winter, summer and
monsoon) were covered. Observations
were made mainly from 0600hr (or
sunrise) to 1200hr and 0300hr to 0630hr
(sunset). The area was explored
travelling on vehicles as well as on foot.
The observations were carried out with a
pair of 10 x 50 binoculars. Species were
identified using recognized field
guides/Handbooks/Checklists like those
by Ali & Ripley (1983), Grimmett
et al.
(1998), Parasharya
et al
. (2004) and
Rasmussen & Anderton (2005). We also
communicated with many local villagers
Mundra
Gujarat
Kachch District
Jalaplavit (ISSN 2321-1881), Vol.7, No.1, March 2017
29
and fishermen to understand their
dependency on this coastal area and
identifying threats due to anthropogenic
activities.
Results
A total of 45 species were
recorded in the Modhava coastal area
which belonged to 5 orders and 11
families (Table 1).
Family-wise species richness
Maximum number of species (i.e.,
16 species) belonged to the family
Scolopacidae (i.e., family of Sandpipers,
Godwit, Whimbrel, Turnstone etc.)
followed by Laridae family [i.e., family of
Gulls, Terns, Skimmers) with 11 species,
Charadriidae family[i.e., family of
Plovers] with 6 species and Ardeidae
family [i.e., family of Herons, Egrets etc.]
with 3 species. Of the remaining
families, 2 were represented by 2
species and 5 families were represented
by one species.
Threatened & Near Threatened
Species (as per IUCN)
Of the total recorded species, 10
(i.e., 22%) species of waterbirds were
globally threatened/Near Threatened as
per IUCN (2010)’s Red List of Threatened
Species. Of these 10 species of birds,
one species was Endangered (EN), one
species was Vulnerable (VU) and eight
species were Near Threatened (NT). The
details of the status of those species are
given in Table 2.
Fig. 2 Family-wise waterbird species richness recorded on Modhava coast
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Table 1. Checklist of waterbirds recorded on Modhava coastal area, Kachchh
Common
Name
Scientific Name
Order
Family
Resident
-ial
Status
IUCN
Status
Western Reef
Egret
Egretta gularis
Pelecaniformes
Ardeidae
R
LC
Great Egret
Ardea alba
Pelecaniformes
Ardeidae
R
LC
Grey Heron
Ardea cinerea
Pelecaniformes
Ardeidae
R
LC
Great Thick-
knee
Esacus
recurvirostris
Charadriiformes
Burhinidae
R
NT
Pacific Golden
Plover
Pluvialis fulva
Charadriiformes
Charadriidae
M
LC
Little Ringed
Plover
Charadrius
dubius
Charadriiformes
Charadriidae
RM
LC
Grey Plover
Pluvialis
squatarola
Charadriiformes
Charadriidae
M
LC
Kentish Plover
Charadrius
alexandrinus
Charadriiformes
Charadriidae
RM
LC
Lesser Sand
Plover
Charadrius
mongolus
Charadriiformes
Charadriidae
M
LC
Greater Sand
Plover
Charadrius
leschenaultii
Charadriiformes
Charadriidae
M
LC
Painted Stork
Mycteria
leucocephala
Ciconiiformes
Ciconiidae
R
NT
Black necked
Stork
Ephippiorhynchu
s asiaticus
Ciconiiformes
Ciconiidae
R
NT
Crab Plover
Dromas ardeola
Charadriiformes
Dromadidae
M
LC
Eurasian
Oystercatcher
Haematopus
ostralegus
Charadriiformes
Haematopodi
dae
M
NT
Heuglin's Gull
Larus heuglini
Charadriiformes
Laridae
M
LC
Pallas's Gull
Ichthyaetus
ichthyaetus
Charadriiformes
Laridae
M
LC
Brown
Headed Gull
Chroicocephalus
brunnicephalus
Charadriiformes
Laridae
M
LC
Black Headed
Gull
Chroicocephalus
ridibundus
Charadriiformes
Laridae
M
LC
Slender Billed
Gull
Chroicocephalus
genei
Charadriiformes
Laridae
M
LC
Little Tern
Sternula
albifrons
Charadriiformes
Laridae
R
LC
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Lesser
Crested tern
Thalasseus
bengalensis
Charadriiformes
Laridae
M
LC
Gull-Bill Tern
Gelochelidon
nilotica
Charadriiformes
Laridae
M
LC
Whiskered
Tern
Chlidonias
hybrida
Charadriiformes
Laridae
M
LC
Caspian Tern
Hydroprogne
caspia
Charadriiformes
Laridae
RM
LC
Caspian Gull
Larus cachinnans
Charadriiformes
Laridae
M
LC
Dalmatian
Pelican
Pelecanus
crispus
Pelecaniformes
Pelecanidae
M
VU
Greater
Flamingo
Phoenicopterus
roseus
Phoenicopterifo
rmes
Phoenicopteri
dae
RM
LC
Pied Avocet
Recurvirostra
avosetta
Charadriiformes
Recurvirostrid
ae
RM
LC
Black winged
stilt
Himantopus
himantopus
Charadriiformes
Recurvirostrid
ae
R
LC
Whimbrel
Numenius
phaeopus
Charadriiformes
Scolopacidae
M
LC
Common
RedShank
Tringa totanus
Charadriiformes
Scolopacidae
M
LC
Terek
Sandpiper
Xenus cinereus
Charadriiformes
Scolopacidae
M
LC
Ruddy
TurnStone
Arenaria
interpres
Charadriiformes
Scolopacidae
M
LC
Sanderling
Calidris alba
Charadriiformes
Scolopacidae
M
LC
Dunlin
Calidris alpina
Charadriiformes
Scolopacidae
M
LC
Eurasian
Curlew
Numenius
arquata
Charadriiformes
Scolopacidae
M
NT
Common
GreenShank
Tringa nebularia
Charadriiformes
Scolopacidae
M
LC
Bar-Tailed
Godwit
Limosa lapponica
Charadriiformes
Scolopacidae
M
NT
Black-Tailed
Godwit
Limosa limosa
Charadriiformes
Scolopacidae
M
NT
Common
Sandpiper
Actitis
hypoleucos
Charadriiformes
Scolopacidae
M
LC
Spotted
Redshank
Tringa
erythropus
Charadriiformes
Scolopacidae
M
LC
Green
Sandpiper
Tringa ochropus
Charadriiformes
Scolopacidae
M
LC
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Note: R: Resident, M: Migratory, RM: Resident-Migratory, LC: Least Concern (as per IUCN Red List
of Threatened Species), NT: Near Threatened, VU: Vulnerable, EN: Endangered
Table 2. Threatened & Near Threatened Waterbirds of Modhava coast
Sr.No
Common Name
Scientific Name
IUCN Status
1
Great Thick-knee
Esacus recurvirostris
NT
2
Painted Stork
Mycteria leucocephala
NT
3
Black-necked Stork
Ephippiorhynchus
asiaticus
NT
4
Eurasian Oystercatcher
Haematopus
ostralegus
NT
5
Dalmatian Pelican
Pelecanus crispus
VU
6
Eurasian Curlew
Numenius arquata
NT
7
Bar-tailed Godwit
Limosa lapponica
NT
8
Black-tailed Godwit
Limosa limosa
NT
9
Great Knot
Calidris tenuirostris
EN
10
Curlew Sandpiper
Calidris ferruginea
NT
Fig. 3 Proportion of Threatened & Near Threatened waterbirds
(Modhava coast)
LC
78%
NT
18%
VU
2%
EN
2%
IUCN
Status
LC
NT
VU
EN
Marsh
Sandpiper
Tringa stagnatilis
Charadriiformes
Scolopacidae
M
LC
Great Knot
Calidris
tenuirostris
Charadriiformes
Scolopacidae
M
EN
Curlew
Sandpiper
Calidris
ferruginea
Charadriiformes
Scolopacidae
M
NT
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Residential Status of Birds
Of the total 45 species
recorded, 32 species were
Migratory (71%) for the Indian
Subcontinent, 8 were Resident (18%)
and 5 species were Resident-Migratory.
Fig. 4 Proportion of Migratory, Resident and Resident-Migratory species
Threats identified
During the study period, we
identified several threats or disturbance
factors in this coastal area. Some of
them are mentioned below:
Rapid industrialization and other
proposed development activities.
Increasing shipping traffic and
associated problems like oil spills,
garbage and ballast water disposal,
spillage of transport materials like
coal, fertilizers, soda ash and cement.
Changes in traditional fishing
practices.
Movement of a variety of vehicles (2-
wheelers to 4-wheelers).
Likely increase in infrastructure and
tourism pressure in future.
18%
71%
11%
R
M
RM
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Crab plovers with a port in background Flamingo near fishermen on a bike
Sanderling and Ruddy Turnstone in front A flock of Black-headed Gull with
of a fisherman boats/steamers in background
Eurasian Oystercatcher and a gull in the vicinity of fishermen
Dilipsinh Chudasama
Dilipsinh Chudasama
Dilipsinh Chudasama
Dilipsinh Chudasama
Dilipsinh Chudasama
Jalaplavit (ISSN 2321-1881), Vol.7, No.1, March 2017
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Discussion
Modhava beach is certainly rich
from the viewpoint of shorebirds and
seabirds. As per our opinion, it supports
almost 19% of species of wetland birds
of India. The 5 km long intertidal zone
has several creeks. The area around the
creeks has abundant mangroves. The
mangroves are known to support fish
breeding and other faunal diversity
including mollusks, crabs and
mudskippers. They constitute the diet
for a variety of shorebirds and seabirds.
As the intertidal area provides strategic
locations where traditional fishing can
be carried out, more than 1000 families
of the Mundra coastal area are involved
in fishing. But now the entire 60 km
intertidal zone in Mundra area is being
used up by industries. In addition to an
existing port, four new ports, backup
facilities and shipyards are coming up in
the Mundra coast. A multipurpose SEZ
has been planned along the port. Nearly
25,000 MW power will be generated by
coal based power plants on the Mundra
coast. During field-work, we had also
observed that the birds got disturbed
due to drilling activities. The area has
been under tremendous pressure due to
rapid industrialization, changes in
traditional fishing practices and tourism.
About 10 bird species that were found
to be threatened and good
concentration of shorebirds make
Modhava beach a very important area
for bird conservation.
The Modhava coastal area is located in Mundra taluka, Kachchh district. A prominent
feature of the Mundra Coast is the vast intertidal zone comprising a network of creeks,
estuaries and mudflats. The intertidal zone is unique and very important because the
fishermen can land their boats in these natural creeks and also keep them there safe from
strong winds and currents. The fisher-folk have complete knowledge of the sea and have
been living on the coasts for ages. They are familiar with the creeks of the area and the
intertidal zone is important for their occupation, economic prosperity and survival of their
families. The creeks also form a natural drainage system which if disturbed might lead to
flooding during monsoons. Scientists have identified vacant sites along the Kutch coast
(Zone 3 Mandvi-Jakhau, Zone 1 Bhachau Gandhidham) which could be used for industrial
development. Along the northern coast, two lengthy stretches are available without any
ecologically sensitive zones that could be used for future development of industries. Why
use the ecologically sensitive and traditional livelihood supporting Mundra Coast for
Industrial Development when alternative sites are available nearby.
(Source: http://www.ceeindia.org/cee/pdf_files/impactofindustrial_expansion_in_mundra_coast.pdf)
Jalaplavit (ISSN 2321-1881), Vol.7, No.1, March 2017
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Conclusion
The Modhava beach supports many
resident and migratory bird species, of
which, some are threatened. Apart from
good avian diversity, this area has been
providing good habitat to many living
organisms. It has also been providing
livelihood option to fishermen
communities. But, being an important
area for a variety of avifauna it should
receive immediate attention for
conservation.
Recommendations
No/cautious development on coast and
Habitat restoration:
If at all necessary, very cautious and
environmentally careful industrial and
other development activities on the
coast-line of Kachchh. Carrying out
mangrove plantation by Forest
Department by involving local
communities.
Research and Monitoring:
The coastline of Kachchh is being used
for only commercial purposes, but its
biodiversity richness is always neglected
and not properly documented. This
coastline has been providing good
habitat to many migratory and resident
birds, mammals, sea turtles and marine
invertebrates. Regular monitoring of this
coast biodiversity and developing the
database is crucial considering need for
environment impact assessments for
establishing new industrial or
commercial units.
Public Awareness:
Much can be achieved for coastal
biodiversity conservation through public
awareness and education. Awareness
can be created at various levelsamong
local NGOs, fisher-folks and coastal
residents. Training/nature education
programmes need to be conducted for
school/ college students and volunteers
and employees of NGOs.
Jalaplavit (ISSN 2321-1881), Vol.7, No.1, March 2017
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Great Knot Eurasian Oystercatcher
Black-necked Stork Dalmatian Pelican
Eurasian Thick-knee Bar-tailed Godwit
Dilipsinh Chudasama
Dilipsinh Chudasama
Dilipsinh Chudasama
Dilipsinh Chudasama
Dilipsinh Chudasama
D. Chudasama
Jalaplavit (ISSN 2321-1881), Vol.7, No.1, March 2017
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Eurasian Curlew Curlew Sandpiper
A flock of Greater Flamingo at Modhava Beach
Dilipsinh Chudasama
Dilipsinh Chudasama
Dilipsinh Chudasama
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Carb Plover a species covered under “Agreement on the Conservation of African-
Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA)
An aesthetic value of Modhava Beach-a flock of Flamingos at sunset
Dilipsinh Chudasama
Dilipsinh Chudasama
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Acknowledgments
We are thankful to Mr. Nirav Pomal,
Ashish Gohil, Mahesh Parmar and Alok
Jethi to give accompany us during the
field, we also grateful to Dr. Ketat tatu
Sr. Scientist, GREER Foundation for their
support and encouragement to
preparation of this manuscript.
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Book
Full-text available
About 526 species of bird species recorded from the Gujarat state, India till August 2004 are listed. Records of the subspecies (where available) are mentioned. Old and new English names with scientific and vernacular names of the birds are also given along with their residential status.
A Pictorial Guide to the birds of the Indian Subcontinent
  • S Ali
  • S D Ripley
Ali S. and Ripley S.D.(1983).A Pictorial Guide to the birds of the Indian Subcontinent. Bombay Natural History Society. Oxford University Press, Bombay, 165.
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