Rare horned grebe spotted in Jodhpur wetland - Hindustan Times
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Rare horned grebe spotted in Jodhpur wetland

Hindustan Times, Jaipur | ByDinesh Bothra
Dec 19, 2018 03:04 PM IST

Horned grebes are commonly seen in Europe and the US, with only two confirmed sightings in India — at Hrike Wetland, Punjab, in February 2001 and at Dighal, Haryana, in December 2017.

A horned grebe - a rare winter bird - has been spotted at the Bhaniyana wetland in Rajasthan’s Jodhpur. Birdwatchers claim that the sighting is first in Rajasthan and only the third time in India.

The horned grebe, a rare winter bird, was spotted at Bhaniyana wetland in Jodhpur.(Photo courtesy: Dr. Divesh Saini)
The horned grebe, a rare winter bird, was spotted at Bhaniyana wetland in Jodhpur.(Photo courtesy: Dr. Divesh Saini)

The bird, also known as the Slavonian grebe, was spotted among the long-decked diving birds in the wetland, locally known as the Bhim Sarovar.

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Horned grebe (Podiceps auritus) is listed as a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). It is a member of the grebe family, Podicipedidae and is found across Europe, America and Asia, including only few records from the Indian subcontinent. These birds are migratory in nature and the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies to them, birdwatchers say.

Horned grebes are commonly seen in Europe and the US, with only two confirmed sightings in India — at Hrike Wetland, Punjab, in February 2001 and at Dighal, Haryana, in December 2017.

Harkirat Singh Sangha, senior birder and associated with the E-Bird Community, confirmed that the bird spotted was a horned grebe. “I had spotted three such birds in Haryana last year,” he said.

Dr Divesh Saini, a physician at government hospital in Pokaran, Jaisalmer, said the bird was spotted and photographed during a routine birding trip to Bhaniyana.

Presence of ponds in western Rajasthan villages assumes significance as several migratory birds use this route, part of the Central Asian Flyway (as designated by the Convention on Migratory Species).

“Along with small water bodies, the role of Indira Gandhi Canal and the availability of water round the year are major attraction for the birds,” said Dr Sumit Dookia, assistant professor at Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, New Delhi. “The sighting of rare birds from Jaisalmer prove that these birds are using the Thar Desert portion in their annual route. We have so far documented more than 30 village wetlands where more than 35 water-loving birds were seen during the winter season along with a huge congregation of Common Cranes, Demoiselle Crane as well as Mallards, Shoveller, Ruddy Shelduck, Bar Headed Goose, Ruff, Red Shank etc,” he added.

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