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250 birds spotted in a day at Santragachhi Jheel

‘We spotted five Gadwalls between November 8 and November 14’

Subhajoy Roy | Published 21.11.21, 11:24 AM
Birds at the Santragachhi Jheel last week.

Birds at the Santragachhi Jheel last week.

Pradip Sanyal

About 250 birds have been spotted at the Santragachhi Jheel on a single day this month and birdwatchers are hoping the numbers will rise as the month progresses.

Lesser Whistling Duck, a local bird, was the most dominant species. But a couple of migrants were also spotted. These include Grey Headed Lapwing and Gadwall.


According to the website of Birdlife International, Gadwall breeds across the wide region in Eurasia. “This is a trans-Himalayan migrant and a common visitor to Santragachhi Jheel. We spotted five Gadwalls between November 8 and November 14,” said Surajit Dawn, a birdwatcher, who has been visiting Santragachhi everyday as part of a research project.

Dawn said Grey Headed Lapwing was a bird that bred in China and migrated to India during the winter. “It may or may not be a trans-Himalayan migrant. It could take another route than crossing the Himalayas, but it is definitely a migratory bird,” said Dawn.

A couple of Purple Heron were also spotted on Monday. This bird breeds in the Indian subcontinent.

But Dawn added that the number of birds being seen have reduced in the past couple of days. Shubhankar Patra, a veteran birdwatcher, said the reduction could be because of a rise in the mercury level that led the birds away to cooler places in the neighbourhood. “We have witnessed the presence of 12,000 birds in the Santragachhi Jheel about a decade ago. But the numbers kept reducing and in the last few years only 3,000 to 4,000 birds are found in the Jheel during winter months. Encroachment of the Jheel could be one of the reasons for the dip in the number of birds landing here,” said Patra.

The proximity of Santragachhi Jheel from Calcutta – about 11km from Esplanade – have made it a spot of attraction for many Calcuttans. Many flock to the place during winter.

But birdwatchers said some of these people behaved very irresponsibly that disturbed the birds.

Patra said some of the birds that had been sighted in Santragachhi Jheel include Ferruginous Pochard, Common Teal and Northern Pintail. The Ferruginous Pochard is a trans-Himalayan migrant that is listed as “near threatened” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

A distribution map of the bird available on the website shows that Gadwalls breed across China, Mongolia, countries to India’s northwest and Russia, among other countries. Because of the harsh winter in these places, the birds migrate to warmer areas. The distribution map shows that the bird is a native of India during is its non-breeding days.

Last updated on 21.11.21, 11:24 AM

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