Date: 2 Jan 2018
The number of migratory birds visiting Taungthaman Lake in Mandalay Region, a prime place to watch rare birds in Myanmar, has significantly dropped, according to birdwatcher U Zay Maung Thein of Mandalay.
In addition to Taungthaman Lake in Amarapura township, fewer birds came to Paleik Lake and Pyu Lake south of Tada-U township this year, he said.
"We haven't seen Brahminy ducks, seagulls and moorhens, which used to migrate to Taungthaman. Also, we haven't seen any black-winged stilts, which came in the tens of thousands in previous years. Pied avocets and black-tailed godwits, which can be seen only in Taungthaman and which came last year, haven't arrived yet," U Zay Maung Thein said on Saturday.
He visited Taungthaman four times last year to watch birds. This year, he found fewer birds and suspects it may be related to global climate change, he said.
"Wild ducks and wild geese mostly come to Paleik Lake, but this year, the number declined. I have been birdwatching since 2004, and the arrival numbers have been declining year after year. This year is the worst. When plots were set aside to breed fish in Paleik, plants that are the birds' food stopped growing. Previously, it was very noisy with birds, but now there are almost no birds in the eastern part of Paleik. The number has also decreased in Pyu Lake," he said.
The best time to watch birds in Myanmar is from March to June or July, when nearly 1200 bird species can be counted. Migratory birds can be seen in Myanmar from early November to the end of March. There remains a lot to do for bird conservation and environmental awareness in Myanmar, he added.
"I think it is very late for conservation. Conservation needs to take into account the customs and traditions of local residents. There is a custom of freeing birds in Myanmar. But birds are caught in bulk and sold in other cities. Birds are kept for one or two weeks in the hands of sellers. When freed, it is not easy for them to return to their native habitat. You can't feed rice to a worm-eating bird. Fifty percent of birds that are caught may eventually die," he said.