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The China ‘recovery’

Two flocks of 40 speckled brown Great Knots, one of them tagged in China, were recently spotted on Henry Island, near Bakkhali. The sighting of the tagged bird marked the first recorded instance of a Great Knot from China being “recovered” in India.

A “recovery” occurs when a bird is traced back to where it was tagged.

“The Great Knot had a black flag on its upper right leg above a white engraved flag with the code LW. On its left leg, there was a band with the code F04-1195,” recalled city-based birder Sumit K. Sen, who sighted the flocks on February 3 along with three others.

A month-long probe, involving exchange of emails among birders across the continents, revealed that the Great Knot was tagged in Chongming Dao, an island north of Shanghai, on April 22 last year.

The bird has since flown 3,500km, along the East Asian-Australasian flyway, to Siberia and Australia. On its way back to China, it landed on Henry Island, which falls on the fringes of the flyway. “Most of our migratory birds come from Kazakhstan, Tibet and Siberia. This is the first proof of an eastern bird coming to Bengal,” Sen pointed out.

Great Knots, last spotted on Henry Island “three-four” years ago, breed in the icy wastes of Siberia and winter in Australia, New Zealand, Korea and China. The Henry Island sighting proves that Bengal, too, is a wintering spot for them.

“It’s an unusual sighting and an exciting recovery,” said Asad Rehmani, the director of Bombay Natural History Society, which confirms bird sighting in India. Early this year, three Bar Headed Geese, tagged in Mongolia last year, were recovered in Maharashtra and Karnataka.

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