First sighting: Rare horned grebe spotted in Haryana village 70km from Delhi
The horned grebe or Slavonian grebe was spotted in Haryana’s Jhajjhar district nearly 16 years after it was last seen in Harike, Punjab.delhi Updated: Dec 18, 2017 10:29 IST
At least 16 years after it was last spotted at Harike in Punjab, a flock of horned grebe or Slavonian grebe — a rare Eurasian migratory bird — has been spotted at Dighal, a village in Haryana’s Jhajjhar district, around 70 km from Delhi.
As the news of the bird’s spotting spread, dozens of birders from Delhi and its satellite towns flocked to Dighal on Sunday to see the rare winged visitor. The birders did not want to miss the rare chance, as this is for the first time that the horned grebe has been spotted in the National Capital Region.
The birds were first spotted on Thursday by Rakesh Ahlawat, a local birder and a field assistant of Nature Conservation Foundation. At least six birds have been spotted so far.
“It was around 5.30pm on Thursday that I saw some beautiful birds feeding in one of the ponds. I clicked some photos and sent them to my friends, as I was not sure about the species. The confirmation came later. It was a pleasant surprise,” said Ahlawat.
Listed as a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the Slavonian grebe is difficult to differentiate from its American cousin, the black-necked grebe, when both are in the non-breeding or winter plumage.
“They are commonly seen in Europe and US. But they hardly come to India. There are just two confirmed reports of this bird from India, the last one being from Punjab. The earlier record was from the 19th century. Bird watchers from across India are coming to see it,” said Pankaj Gupta, a birder from the Delhi Bird Foundation.
The wetlands and water bodies of Dighal were teeming with various species of birds including teals, mallards, storks and cormorants among others. Bird watchers also spotted the brahminy kite, usually not found in this part of the country.
An estimated 370 species of birds migrate to India, out of which 175 species undertake long distance migration using the Central Asian Flyway area, which include Amur falcons, Egyptian vultures, plovers, ducks, storks, ibises, flamingos, jacanas, pochards and sociable lapwing among others.