Wetlands of Sippighat: Must visit for birdwatchers

Report by: 
ROOPA LALL
Port Blair
11 Jun 2017

After the earthquake and tsunami reclaimed a major portion of inhabited land at various parts in South Andaman, nature left low- lying area  of Sippighat here as home for resident and migratory water fowl as well as terrestrial bird species. Flocks of birds from different species can be noticed gliding through the wetland waters of Sippighat with the arrival of the spring season every year. The Department of  Environment and Forest and Tourism have already collaborated to encourage visitors to visit the wetlands of Sippighat and other spots famous for migratory birds. One of the not-to-be-missed sites for bird watchers, this area now needs conservation.
Speaking to EOI, the Divisional Forest Officer, South Andaman, Mr SK Thomas admitted that the wetlands of Sippighat has immense potential to be developed as a tourist destination for bird and nature lovers. “The Forest Department has already places signboards to promote the initiative and to encourage visitors to this spot. Routine patrolling has been ensured in and around the area to prevent hunting of our avian friends,” he said.
After the 2004 tsunami, low-lying areas in Sippighat have been left unfit for human habitat. Land acquisition is the only option left to promote this area for bird lovers. Original land tenants can be paid compensation after which the area should be declared as a natural reserve. Opposition from tenants is posing hurdle for the administration in this direction, stated Mr Thomas.
A recent bird count established the presence of 24 species at Sippighat. The most abundant water birds found are the Common Moorhen and the Lesser Whistling Ducks besides the Cotton Pygmy Goose frolics, Purple Moorhens and Swamp Hens. Amongst other commonly sighted birds are the Wagtails, Plovers, Snipers, Common and Wood Sandpipers, Yellow and Chinese Bitterns, and Kingfishers and Egrets. The White Bellied Sea Eagle, Crested Serpent Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Andaman teal and Andaman Serpent Eagle.