The Jakarta Post
Despite its dismal condition, it appears Lake Limboto in Gorontalo is still able to attract migrating birds that have flown thousands of kilometers from various parts of the globe.
Nature photographer Idham Ali, who has been taking pictures of birds over the past three years, listed at least 40 bird species that have stopped briefly at the biggest fresh-water lake in the province, which is now badly silted.
'Among the dozens of bird species I've listed, 14 of them are migrating birds from various countries in Europe, Russia, Alaska and Siberia. They stop over at Lake Limboto to rest before resuming their journey to various destinations,' Idham said recently.
Idham and dozens of environmentalists from different backgrounds observed various species of migrating birds in an area along the shore of Lake Limboto in Hutada'a village in Gorontalo regency on Monday.
'It's amazing, especially given the fact the peak of bird migration usually occurs between September and October,' said Idham.
But Idham said he was quite saddened by rampant bird poaching around the lake.
'The poachers have even formed communities,' he added.
Bird observer from Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Iwan Hunowu said the migrating birds, which were of the water and coastal bird species, had flown distances of up to 18,000 km from their countries of origin.
'Similar to humans who wish to travel long distances, the birds also make various preparations before migrating, such as increasing their body weight over a duration of four months prior to commencing the long trip,' said Iwan.
He added that various bird species generally migrate for survival. 'In the northern hemisphere, the weather is known to be extreme during summer and winter, so they migrate to a tropical region like Indonesia,' said Iwan.
He cited the example of the brown and long-beaked little curlew, locally known as gajahan kecil, that avoids winter by migrating to the Philippines, Indonesia and the northern part of Australia.
'It has many names, such as zwerbrachvogel in Germany, chiurlo minore in Italy and zarapito chico in Spain,' he said.
Meanwhile Portuguese bird painter Paulo Alves, who also joined the bird watch at Lake Limboto, said the migrating bird phenomenon could be developed into a potential tourist attraction in Gorontalo, similar to those found in other regions.
'The migrating birds can bring benefits and blessings for the local community around Lake Limboto, provided the government and stakeholders work together to develop the local ecotourism infrastructure,' said Alves.
Local bird activist Amsurya Warman Amsa said that during this year's Indonesia Bird Variety Day, which is commemorated every July 15, his group had used the theme 'Welcome Birds' to usher in various migrating bird species arriving in the country.
'The migrating bird phenomenon signifies that every corner of the Earth is connected and reliant on the other,' said Amsurya.
'This momentum can also serve to remind us of the importance of restoring and preserving the condition of Lake Limboto as it used to be,' he added.