Swamp Francolin, Kaziranga

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I thought of sharing an image I made of Swamp Francolins from the western zone of Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve in Assam. The image was made in the afternoon safari during late December 2015. I was excited about spotting a rare species like this — we actually saw a family of six but I managed to capture only three in this frame.

As the name implies, this is a bird of swamps and damp areas, but it is … Read More

Rare Bird Alert — Grey-tailed Tattler in Pulicat Lake

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Grey-tailed Tattlers (Tringa brevipes) breed in Siberia and use the East Asian-Australasian Flyway for migration. They are more commonly seen in the north of Australia, where they winter in good numbers.

Late September and early October are productive periods for shorebird lovers. This is the onset of winter migration and surprises are usually encountered. Pulicat lake covering the states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh is one such place in South India where there is always a possibility of seeing … Read More

Rare Bird Sighted in Pulicat lake, Tamil Nadu Coast

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Birders and nature lovers were in for a treat this season.

A rare pelagic bird was sighted near the Pulicat coast in the last week of April, 2018. This is the first time the bird was sighted near Chennai. There are only two previous records from Tamil Nadu.

Lesser Noddy (Anous tenuirostris) is a bird that is closely related to terns. Pelagic birds spend most of the time in the sea and visit the shores only when they breed.

Pulicat … Read More

A Dead Chestnut-winged Cuckoo

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This dead Chestnut-winged Cuckoo was found (probably hit by a speeding vehicle) by the photographer just outside the Thattekad Bird Sanctuary (also known as the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary) in Ernakulam district on the northern bank of the Periyar river. A very unfortunate sight given that the bird has become a rarity in India.

Though seldom seen in the country nowadays, Birdlife International does not treat it as vulnerable due on its wide distribution and its relatively stable status in … Read More

Caspian Plover – A Winter Rarity in India

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The mudflats near Panje village near Uran, Navi Mumbai are known to be a favourite stopover destination for many uncommon migratory birds, so we visited the place to try our luck.

Our day began with listening to the calls of Rain Quails and the sighting of a beautiful Jacobin Cuckoo followed by the usual sightings – Prinias, Bulbuls, Munias, and waders like Sandpipers, Redshanks, Greenshanks, Stints and Lapwings. Further on the trail, along the dry mudflats, we observed a few … Read More

Sunday with a Phalarope, Bhigwan, Maharashtra

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With winter drawing to a close and with it the peak birding season, the weekends are spent in trips to easily accessible birding spots around Mumbai. The last Sunday of March 2016 however brought different tidings – a Red Phalarope had been spotted in Bhigwan, around 250 kms away from Mumbai. A vagrant to beat all rare vagrants!

The Red or Grey Phalarope (Phalaropus fulicarius) is a small wader in the Sandpiper family. It breeds in the Arctic and winters … Read More

Rare Bird: White-tailed Tropicbird, Port Blair, Andamans

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I am writing in reference to the sighting of a rare bird in the Indian subcontinent identified as White-tailed Tropicbird (Phaethon lepturus), at South Andaman islands (India). According to records, this bird has been sighted only eight times in last 150 years in India and was last sighted in the Andamans in the 19th century!

On 3rd March 2016 I spotted a white tern-like bird flying over the Bay of Bengal near Ross Island, but could not photograph it. … Read More

Swamp Prinia — A Disappearing Grassland Rarity

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The Swamp Prinia (Prinia cinerascens) is an extremely rare bird to see and photograph in the wild. This Near Threatened bird was frequently seen in undisturbed grassland habitat with Saccharum spontaneum grasses (Kohua in Assamese) near the Maguri-Motapung wetland. The location was the south bank of Dibru river just outside the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park and Tiger Reserve. Tragically, the entire grassland patch was cleared by villagers for agriculture by burning it in 2010. Later, due to awareness created amongst … Read More

Rare Bird: Green Cochoa at Namdapha

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This is one bird high on the list of birders exploring the Oriental region. On our trip to Namdapha in Jan 2015, in Eastern Arunachal Pradesh, we got this rare bird near Ranijheel camp on the 4th day of our trek.

These birds inhabit subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and subtropical or tropical moist montane forests. Though very widely distributed in the Eastern Himalayas and parts of SE Asia, this species is described as rare or rarely seen. As … Read More

Blue Pitta, Dampa Tiger Reserve, Mizoram

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Of the 30 species belonging to the family Pittidae, six are found in India. Of these six, the Blue Pitta is amongst the rarest, never having been photographed alive from India.

Although it’s expected distribution spans across all northeastern states except Sikkim, the bird is rarely sighted. In our recent publication in Indian BIRDS, ‘Records of Blue Pitta (Pitta cyanea) in Dampa Tiger Reserve, Mizoram, and a review of its status in north-eastern India’ by Singh and Macdonald, we report … Read More

Rare Bird — Gold-crested Myna

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Of all the Indian mynas, the Gold-crested Myna (Ampeliceps coronatus) is probably the most mysterious. Very rarely has this bird been sighted within Indian limits. Very little is known to the general public of its whereabouts, though it is regularly found in other countries like Thailand and Myanmar.

The definitive encyclopedia on Indian birds, Ali and Ripley’s Handbook, records two sightings from South Assam Hills (Cachar) and Manipur, and describes the bird to be “uncommon” and “little … Read More

In search of the Pale-capped Pigeon, Odisha

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The Pale-capped Pigeon (Columba punicea), a large dark purplish-maroon bird with a contrasting pale crown, has a wide but fragmented range in South and South-East Asia from Odisha (Orissa), Assam and north-east India, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam to south China (where it has not been recorded for many years). Generally a primary or secondary evergreen forest dwelling frugivore of plains and foothills, it has been recorded as high as 1,600m and in habitats such as mangrove forest in Thailand and … Read More

Bellary — a Revival for Great Indian Bustards?

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Great Indian Bustard (Ardeotis nigriceps – GIB in short), a critically endangered Indian endemic bird on the verge of extinction, is showing signs of recovery in Bellary district. Two birds were recently sighted foraging in an agricultural field by seventeen-year-old budding naturalist Preeth Khona, in Chelugurki village 20 kms from Bellary and 60 Kms south of Sirguppa, where it was earlier rediscovered in 2006 by the author. Preeth Khona, Shruthi Punyamurthy and Sunaina Martin are budding naturalists and members … Read More

First Indian record of ‘Sind’ Jerdon’s Babbler from Harike, Punjab

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While birding in Harike Wildlife Sanctuary in Punjab on October 31st and November 1st, 2012, we (three birders — Gunjan Arora, Shashank Dalvi and Saurabh Sawant) came across the Sind Jerdon’s Babbler (Chrysomma altirostre scindicum). This is the first record of this subspecies from India. This record is 370 kms away from the nearest known locality of this bird. It was earlier known only along the main Indus River from very few localities in Pakistan. We found the … Read More

A Dead Blue Pitta

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The Blue Pitta (Pitta cyanea) is a very rare bird in India. There have been no recent reports (and certainly no photographs) from India. Pam Rasmussen (Birds of South Asia) lists it for the South Assam Hills (North Cachar, Tripura and an old specimen from Garo Hills).

This image of a dead Blue Pitta featured in the brilliant award-winning documentary called “The Wild Meat Trail” directed by Rita Banerji and Shilpi Sharma (Dusty Foot Productions) on sale in … Read More

Rare Bird — Spot-breasted Laughing Thrush, Nagaland

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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, … Read More

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

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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) … Read More

Bean Goose: First Record from Uttarakhand, India

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The Bean Goose (Anser fabalis) is a migratory bird breeding in the high Arctic regions. It has its wintering ground in temperate and sub-tropical regions such as China, Japan, Europe, and so on. A solitary Bean Goose has recently been sighted in a wetland near Corbett Tiger Reserve by a group of bird-watchers and naturalists from The Corbett Foundation led by Ms. Anushree Bhattacharjee. This was the first recorded sighting of this species from the State of Uttarakhand. … Read More

Lesser Florican Sighted In Bangalore After A Century!

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Out on a cold gloomy morning with the intent of photographing birds, Mr. Raghavendra Bhat sat in his car in the outskirts of Bangalore, waiting for the sun to warm up the day. As the day brightened-up in about 20 minutes, he observed a medium sized bird cross the kuchha road in front and walk into the grass. At first, he thought it to be a juvenile junglefowl, but on seeing the structure of the head, he thought it could … Read More