Rare Yellow-throated Laughingthrush at Doyang, Nagaland

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The Yellow-throated Laughingthrush is a secretive species with a very limited distribution in India, mainly along the India-Myanmar border. It has been only reported from a handful places in Nagaland and Manipur in the recent past. The species is most reported from Pungro region in East Nagaland after it was originally described in May 2011.

This species was recently recorded at the Doyang reservoir in Nagaland. After spending the whole day watching the spectacular Amur Falcon congregations at Doyang … Read More

Red-breasted Merganser, Gajoldoba, West Bengal: A New Record for India

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The Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator) is a polytypic species (ie has several variant forms) with a distribution range covering North America, Europe, Greenland and Asia. Through this note, we would like to establish the presence of the Red-breasted Merganser in the northern part of West Bengal, by presenting photographic evidence.

On the morning of 18th December 2016, we were coming down along the river Teesta towards Gajoldoba (teesta barrage) in North Bengal. At that time I saw a bird through … Read More

Rare Cinereous Vulture Sighted in Nagarahole Tiger Reserve

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I observed three Cinereous Vultures (Aegypius monachus) in the Kabini backwaters area of the Nagarahole Tiger Reserve in December 2016. They were feeding on a kill alongside Long-billed Vultures and Red-headed (King) vultures.

This is just the fourth sighting of the species in South India though it is not an uncommon bird in North and Northwest India as well as the Himalayas. Just a few weeks ago an individual was seen flying over Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve, Tamil Nadu, in February … Read More

Himalayan Forest Thrush — New Bird Species discovered in India and China

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A new species of bird has been described from northeastern India and adjacent parts of China by a team of scientists from Sweden, India, China, the US, and Russia.

The bird has been named Himalayan Forest Thrush (Zoothera salimalii). The scientific name honours the great Indian ornithologist Dr Sálim Ali (1896–1987), in recognition of his huge contributions to the development of Indian ornithology and wildlife conservation. This is the first Indian bird named after Dr. Salim Ali.

Dr. Per … Read More

The Enigma of the Forest Owlet

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The Forest Owlet (Heteroglaux blewitti) is a curious bird, both by name and nature. It has captured the imagination of many within and outside the country and for the right reasons.

The forest owlet has an interesting past associated with it. Let us travel back in time to the 19th century. It was in 1872 when an Irish officer, Mr. Francis Robert Blewitt (F. R. Blewitt) saw this different looking owl near Phooljhar in eastern Madhya Pradesh (now in Chhattisgarh). … Read More

Mammals in the Jeypore-Dehing forests, Assam

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The Jeypore-Dehing Landscape is located in eastern or Upper Assam. It comprises three large blocks of forest (Jeypore, Upper Dehing West Block and Upper Dehing East Block) and several forest fragments. The reserve forests lie within a mosaic of oil and coal mining grants, tea plantations, agriculture and settlements. The forest type is lowland Assam Valley Tropical Wet Evergreen forest (Dipterocarpus-Mesua) and together stretch over roughly 600 sq km. The landscape is part of the Dehing-Patkai Elephant Reserve and 111 … Read More

White-tailed Wood Rat, Purna WLS, Gujarat

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White Tailed Wood Rat (Madromys blanfordi) — First Record in Purna Wildlife Sanctuary, Gujarat.

On 23th January 2015 at around 2:29 am, we were travelling from Dhulda to Mahal, passing through the Purna Wildlife Sanctuary (PWLS). The PWLS, spread over a small valley, falls in Kalibel range, situated in Dang district of South Gujarat. The area has dense forests with thick bamboo brakes and is drained by the beautiful river Purna, which gives the sanctuary its name.

As we were … 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

First Photographic Record of Long-eared Owl in India

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On 11th March 2012, while looking for the threatened Great Indian Bustards in Naliya grasslands in Kutch, Ramki Sreenivasan and I came across an owl which flew from one low tree to another. The owl was well camouflaged in dense foliage of an Acacia nilotica tree, but permitted a close approach.

The owl was brownish with streaks on its breast and belly. It had extremely long ear tufts, buff brown facial disk, black band down the face between the eye … Read More

White-browed Crake — New Species for the Indian Subcontinent

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‘Maguri-Motapung Beel’- an Important Bird Area (IBA) situated in the district of Tinsukia, Assam is a haven for both resident and migratory bird species. Every year birdwatchers from across the globe come to witness its rich avian diversity.

On 5th February 2016, we went birding at the ‘beel’ with the prime target of photographing the Critically Endangered (CR) Baer’s Pochard, which is a winter visitor to Assam Valley and lower parts of South Assam hills. At 1612hrs (after sighting the … Read More

Spot-billed Pelican Record for Maharashtra

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A birding group that I was part of sighted the Spot-billed Pelican (Pelecanus philippensis) on 13th February 2016 at 6:35 PM during an evening boat ride at Kumbhargaon, Bhigwan, Maharashtra. The sun had just set, when we sighted a single Spot-billed Pelican circling in the sky. The Pelican circled around 4-5 times before it flew along the river and disappeared in to the horizon.

The other people with me were Bhavesh Rathod, Ranjan Pendharkar, Urvi Shah, Kavita Trivedi, Saumitra Newalkar, … Read More

Demoiselle Crane — First Record from Bengaluru, India

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At the last minute, on Sunday morning, I convinced 20 other birders that instead of going to Valley School, we should bird along the Kaggalipura-Bannerghatta stretch, and then go to check out Hulimangala. And there, at nearly the end of a long birding outing, we saw a migrant which has never before been sighted in the Bangalore area – the Demoiselle Crane. I have since got information that there were at least two individuals on the lake.

Demoiselle cranes undertake … Read More

Rare Black-breasted Parrotbill Spotted In Manas

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The Black-breasted Parrotbill (Paradoxornis flavirostris) is one of India’s rarest, enigmatic and least-known birds. Till recently Debeshwari, in the Eastern Zone in Kaziranga, and Dibru-Saikhowa close to Tinsukia in N Assam were the only two places where the bird was found. However it seems that for the last few years the birds seem to have become extremely scare in these areas.

On 17th March 2011, birders Soma Jha and Sushmita Jha sighted this bird in Manas National Park … Read More

New Frog Species Described and Named After Goa State

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In the lowland areas of the Western Ghats of Goa and in the hilly tracts of Belgaum, it’s quite common to hear the tinkling 12 to 14-note ‘trick, trick’ chorus call from mud pools, paddy fields and local water bodies in the late evenings during the monsoon. Many of these are terrestrial frogs calling to attract females. These frogs belong to the amphibian genus Fejervarya of the family Dicroglossidae and are commonly known as either ‘cricket frogs’ or ‘fejervaryan frogs’. … Read More

Rare sighting of the Andaman Banded Dandy

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The Andaman Banded Dandy (Laringa horsfieldii andamanesis) is a butterfly that is rarely encountered in the Andamans. Butterflies of the genus Laringa are found in S. Myanmar, Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Java, Borneo and Palawan. This andamanensis subspecies occurs only in South Andaman.

I photographed this butterfly at Chidiya Tapu, South Andaman on Dec 01, 2012. The individual in the photograph is a female. The male is overall dark blue with a pale blue band.

This is probably the … 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

Leaf Deer, Nagaland

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Leaf Deer, Leaf Muntjac or Putao muntjac (Muntiacus putaoensis) is not very well known in India. In a biodiversity survey in Thanamir (base of Mt. Saramati, 3840 m), Eastern Nagaland (May 2011), post-graduate students of M.Sc wildlife biology and conservation, WCS-India & NCBS, Bangalore discovered the presence of skulls of this deer. Subsequent genetic testing on skin samples corroborated the finding. This finding is very significant as it will enhance the deer’s geographical range by 1.5 times. 

The … Read More

First record of the Chinese Thrush from the Indian Subcontinent

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Extract from the article in Indian BIRDS 9 (5&6): 155–157

During a visit to Namdapha National Park, Arunachal Pradesh, India, on 17 November 2013, a bird was seen and photographed while walking along a trail at c. 500 m in tropical evergreen forest between Haldibari and Hornbill camp. The photographs show that the bird was a thrush Turdus/Zoothera, with a greyish-brown crown, back and tail. The face is fairly pale with two dark vertical stripes, the first extending down from … Read More

Indian Golden Gecko, Eastern Ghats

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I had been visiting Kaigal, a village on the edge of Kaundinya Wildlife Sanctuary in the Eastern Ghats of Andhra Pradesh, since I was 15 years old. However, I only recently learnt that the geckos running around on the walls of the guest house there were none other than the Indian Golden Gecko (Calodactylodes aureus). The etymology (origin of the word) of its genus name Calodactylus comes from Latin: a word for beautiful fingers. This is because of the … Read More

Southern Kiang , North Sikkim

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The Southern Kiang (Equus kiang polyodon, Hodgson 1847) occurs in the Trans-Himalayan open steppe of North Sikkim within the Indian limits. It has been recorded in Chho Lhamu, Chulung Valley, Gyamchhona, Kerang and Yumchho. The Souhern Kiangs move between India and China through the passes like Bamcho La, Chhulung La and Sesse La (Avasthe & Jha 1999). It differs from the Western Kiang (E.k.kiang) that occurs in Ladakh from being smaller and sporting a lighter coat. During summer … Read More

New species of gecko from Northern Western Ghats

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A new species of the gekkonid genus Cnemaspis has been described from the lateritic plateau of the northern Western Ghats of Maharashtra, western India. The discovery of Cnemaspis girii from the Kaas plateau in Satara district, Maharashtra, highlights the diversity of herpetofauna of this region and adds to the growing knowledge of the diversity of the Western Ghats. The lateritic plateaus of the northern Western Ghats support endemic herpetofauna and are in need of protection owing to their narrow distribution … Read More

A new species of gecko from the lateritic plateaus of Northern Western Ghats

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Researchers from the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Bangalore and Centre for Ecological Sciences, IISc, Bangalore have described a new species of gecko belonging to the genus Cnemaspis from Kaas plateau in Satara district of Maharashtra. The new species is named after Dr. Varad Giri of the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) who has extensively worked to document the herpetofauna of India. The research paper was published on 17th of June in the journal Zootaxa (read summary) … Read More

Lesser & Greater White-fronted Geese, Little Rann of Kutch, Gujarat

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Birders recently spotted two Lesser White-fronted and four Greater White-fronted Geese in the Little Rann of Kutch (LRK), Gujarat. Both are rarities and seldom seen in the Indian subcontinent. They are long distance migrants.

The Greater White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons) breeds across the tundra from Nunavut to Siberia, across Russia, and in Greenland. The Greater White-fronted Goose has one of the largest ranges of any geese species in the world.

The Lesser White-fronted Goose (Anser erythropusRead More

Woodchat Shrike — First record for India from Alibaug, Maharashtra

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I am a birdlover and amateur photographer from Mumbai. On September 7, 2013, between 11:00 to 12:00 hours in the vicinity of Alibaug, Maharshtra, I was traveling on my bike looking to photograph some butterflies when I encountered this unfamiliar bird. The bird was very accommodating and allowed me to slowly approach fairly close. I posted the record shots on India Nature Watch (INW) where birdwatchers readily identified it as a Woodchat Shrike.

The Woodchat Shrike (Lanius senator) … Read More

First record of Hodgson’s Bat from Western Ghats

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The Hodgson’s Bat (Myotis formosus) is a strikingly colored bat that roosts in foliage. It is a widespread species ranging from Central to South-east Asia. In India it is reported from 14 localities in North and East India and one locality in Central India. This species superficially resembles the more popular Painted Wolly Bat (Kerivoula picta).

On 12th January 2013 at 11:13 h, we (D.V. Girish, Shashank Dalvi, Vishnupriya Sankararaman and Rohit Chakravarty) visited Mullayangiri peak … Read More