Thanks to drastically reduced traffic and visitor movement due to Covid-19 restrictions, migratory birds which arrive to spend out the winter on the lakes of the Jahangirnagar University campus have seen a less disruptive, more idyllic environment this season.
Limited movement of people on campus has meant birds are less affected by human disturbance. Other than staff, there have been very few visitors to campus in past months, though this is now increasing.
Some rare migratory birds have been spotted on the lakes and some birds have made their nests and hatched eggs recently, said ornithologist Prof Md Hasan Kamrul of JU's zoology department.
Usually, the birds appear in the beginning of November, but this year they have been spotted since early September.
Both the number and species of the migratory birds have seen an uptick this year.
A census conducted by the JU's Zoology department last year counted between 4,000 and 5,000 birds on campus.
However, a fresh survey conducted earlier this month on November 8-9 shows this year's count has already exceeded last year's number.
This figure might be even higher by January 2021, said Prof Kamrul.
Around the same time last year, four to five bird species had arrived. This winter, however, eight bird species have so far come to the four lakes in the campus.
These species are the Lesser Whistling Duck (Chhoto Sarali); Greater Whistling Duck (Boro Sarali); Pintail Duck; Common Pochard; Garganey; Mallard Duck; Northern Shoveler; and the African Comb Duck, which has been spotted at JU for the first time in 10 years.
Of these, only the Chhoto Sarali comes from the haor region of the country.
The larger species of birds migrate from Siberia, Nepal, China, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh in India.
Prof Kamrul said, "More birds have already arrived than at any other time. It's a good sign, the pandemic situation has been fortunate for them."
They are seeing a respite from the constant noise of vehicles honking and people, at least for a little while, he said.
However, Prof Kamrul said the largest lake of the university, Jayapara lake, has not been maintained for years -- making it difficult for guest birds to move around in -- and is filled with aquatic plants, algae, and garbage.
"It should be maintained and the garbage cleared. If we aren't conscious about pollution now, the migratory birds may turn away. Many people usually throw plastic bottles and polythenes in these lakes," he added.
Rahima Kaniz, acting registrar of the university, said the administration has been vigilant about the unnecessary entrance of outsiders to campus.
"Necessary steps have already been taken to save the birds like every year. However, it is not being possible completely due to the unconsciousness and non-cooperation of the people," she said.
Asked about the annual bird fair at JU, Prof Kamrul said, "Let us not lose our hope, if the pandemic situation becomes normal, we will take initiatives in this regard."