Red Phalarope, a Rare Vagrant for India, Tal Chhapar, Rajasthan, April 2012

by Harkirat Sangha
Sharad Sridhar

Chosen as 'Picture of the Week'

Red Phalarope is a rare vagrant to the Indian subcontinent and this is only the 4th record. The first record was a specimen collected by Edward Blyth in Kolkata in May 1846. The next record in the subcontinent was not until August 1987 from Rawalsar lake in Pakistan. The third was a bird was photographed on May 7, 1995 in Jor Bir, Bikaner, Rajasthan.

The Indian subcontinent records both Red (or Grey) Phalarope (Phalaropus fulicarius) and Red-necked Phalarope. Both are Arctic breeders that spend the non-breeding (winter) season at sea in the south Pacific, with the Red-necked Phalarope also in the Arabian Sea, and Red off West Africa. Red-necked Phalaropes migrate overland in Europe and Asia, and are encountered in inland wetlands, but Red Phalarope is a vagrant and occur inland only when storm-driven.

On 18 April 2012, Range Forest Officer (RFO) Surat Singh Poonia found a Red Phalarope foraging in a small wetland near Tal Chhapar, Churu district, Rajasthan. The discovery was followed-up by Delhi birders Harkirat Sangha, Manoj Sharma, Atul Jain, Gaurav Bhatnagar and Sharad Sridhar (whose image is attached) on 20th April.

The bird was present in the same location till 27 April 2012.



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