Rare Bird — Spot-breasted Laughing Thrush, Nagalandby Shashank Dalvi
Chosen as Picture of the Week
The last time this bird was collected from the Indian sub-continent was in 1952. The last confirmed report of this species in India was a dead bird from Changlang district in Arunachal Pradesh by Tanmoy Ghosh in 2007.
The Spot-breasted Laughing Thrush Garrulax merulinus is found in several South-east Asian countries. It is well known amongst birders for its beautiful vocalisations and extremely skulky nature. The bird is seldom seen and is known from India by very few, scanty records. The last time this bird was collected from the Indian sub-continent was in 1952. In 2007 Tanmoy Ghosh recorded this species from Changlang district in Arunachal Pradesh where he photographed a dead bird killed by locals. Following this, the species was recorded from Namdapha Tiger Reserve in the year 2010 during a bird tour lead by Peter Lobo.
Later in the same year Ramki Sreenivasan and this author saw and sound recorded this species from eastern Nagaland (see Three rare Laughing Thrushes recorded in Eastern Nagaland). However, even now there are no photographs of this species from the wild. Recently another bird tour leader Craig Robson recorded this species from Mehao Wildlife Sanctuary, Arunachal Pradesh.
In Dec 2011, while collecting data in Khonoma Community Forest, Nagaland, for his master’s dissertation, this author had the opportunity to mistnet a Spot-breasted Laughing Thrush. The bird was released immediately after data collection which included the featured image. These are possibly the first ever photos of a live individual of this species.
It is not very surprising to discover such lesser-known species from northeast of India. This region is very poorly studied and documented and is only now being introduced to the birding
community at large.