The Telegraph
Wednesday , February 19 , 2014
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Enthusiasts brave morning rain for rare sightings on Big Bird Day

Bird enthusiasts braved inclement weather conditions to spot over 100 species across the state to mark Big Bird Day on Sunday.

The documentation on the sighting of winged visitors done by nearly 10 groups of bird watchers was published on Monday evening.

One of the most important sightings was of common merganser (Mergus Merganser) in the Gandak along Valmiki Tiger Reserve.

Among 33 species recorded in a short walk of 5km by the team led by Samir Kumar Sinha, manager, Wildlife Trust of India, the merganser was not reported earlier in the area. “The male bird with dark green and female having chestnut coloured head with small crest prefers shallow shorelines of rivers. In India, it breeds in Ladakh and spends its winter in northern part of the sub-continent. Among other species sighted by my team included Bluethroat, crested serpent eagle, Indian nuthatch, white-bellied drongo, little stint and white wagtail,” said Samir.

Arvind Mishra, state coordinator of Indian Bird Conservation Network (IBCN), also hailed the sighting of Merganser. “The species was not sighted earlier within the state of Bihar. It has just enriched the bird list of Bihar.”

Another interesting finding of the Big Bird Day event was sighting of around 100 white-eyed pochard at Jagatpur lake in Bhagalpur district’s Naugachia by Mishra himself. “White-eyed pochard is a rare species and its sighting in such large number at a place is also exceptional,” said Msihra, adding that total 111 species were spotted across the state on Sunday.

According to sources, around 400 teams of birdwatchers participated in the second nationwide Big Bird Day event. “Teams and individuals go out and watch birds to whichever area are convenient to them and report their sightings at the end of the Big Bird Day, so that they can be compiled into a cumulative list of birds seen on a single day. In Bihar, 11 groups had initially registered for the event but a few could not participate on the day because of rainy weather,” said Mishra.

The wetlands in north Bihar and floodplains of the Ganga, Gandak and Kosi rivers have always been a paradise for winter migratory avian fauna taking seasonal refuge there.

The bird sighting was done in the state capital as well. S. Chandrashekhar, director, Sanjay Gandhi Biological Park, moved around the zoo premises with his camera in hand and spotted total 41 species. “The most important sighting by me was of yellow footed green pigeon. It is an Indian resident bird species. Other bird species spotted by me included gray francolin, oriental darter, cattle egret, eurasian hoopoe and red-wattled lapwing among others,” said Chandrashekhar.

Naveen Kumar, a member of IBCN, did the bird spotting exercise at Taru Mitra Ashram in the Digha area. “I could spot total 17 species, including rose-ringed parakeet, common babbler and Indian robin among others,” said Naveen.

Bird species, including lesser whistling duck, osprey, brown shrike, Indian cormorant, white breasted kingfisher, bronze winged jacana and purple moorhen among others can be seen in sufficient numbers at the several low-lying areas around the city.

IBCN state coordinator Mishra, however, said the bird spotting was not satisfactory at Danapur Cantonment, which is quite famous for winter settlement of openbill storks (Anastomus Oscitans), popularly known as Jhangils. “Only five species, including grey hornbill, could be spotted at Danapur Cantonment,” said Mishra.

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