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Sunday, Aug 25, 2019

Siberian bird in June heat at Dhanauri wetland surprises birders

Spotting the Siberian duck roosting and foraging towards the end of June at the 31 hectare Dhanauri wetland in Gautam Budh Nagar reflects potential for the revival of avifauna to the glory of the good old days, experts said.

noida Updated: Jul 01, 2019 13:15 IST
Kushagra Dixit
Kushagra Dixit
Hindustan Times, Greater Noida
Known to fly long distances with minimal rest, the garganey duck is first to arrive and last to leave.
Known to fly long distances with minimal rest, the garganey duck is first to arrive and last to leave.(HT Photo )
         

In yet another good news for birders, the quacks and cackles of the migratory Garganey duck continues at Dhanauri wetland in Gautam Budh Nagar. Birdwatchers are observing abundant activity of avifauna, including sarus crane, and the wetland echoing with the winter migratory guests at this time has come as a surprise even as water levels have slightly dropped due to the heat.

After the greater flamingoes, which still continue to murmur in large numbers at the Okhla Bird Sanctuary, spotting the Siberian duck roosting and foraging towards the end of June at the 31 hectare wetland reflects potential for the revival of avifauna to the glory of the good old days, experts said.

“The sight of this winter visitor at noon under the scorching sun surprised us. We could photograph one garganey male, which was a rare sighting given the season,” said Ashok Appu, a Delhi-based birder.

He added that spotting the garganey during flight also emphasised that the bird did not stay back due to an injury.

Noida-based bird enthusiast Fermin Jose said that apart from the garganey, birders have spotted about 35-40 sarus cranes, cotton pygmy goose, pheasant-tailed jacana, purple heron, Oriental pranticole and some black-winged kites, to name a few species.

Known to fly long distances without stopping and needing minimal rest, the garganey duck is usually the first to arrive and last to leave.

The reddish-brown duck with off-white strokes on its wings and a crescent over its eyes, migrates to India, Africa and other parts of the world during winter from Siberia. From Dhanauri and other neighbouring wetlands, it flies back home towards the end of April.

Eminent birder Bikram Grewal said that while the spotting the garganey is very good for this season, ducks often stay back a bit longer.

“It’s a good sight, though not earth-shattering. These birds are the last to leave and first ones to arrive and it is usual for them to fly tirelessly and consistently for a long time without losing much weight,” said Grewal.

According to birder Anand Arya, who was at the wetland a few days back but did not spot the bird, it could be a straggler. “They are the last to go, but it is possible that a straggler may have stayed back, which might not have enough energy to fly back. Though it’s a fine spotting,” said Arya.

According to duck enthusiast Raunak Patra, currently studying at the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI), the garganey feed and roost in India and leave to Siberia to breed and lay eggs.

“They enjoy eating fleshy roots of water plants, and hence are quite active around the wetlands,” Patra said.

Already recommended by the district forest department for being recognised and notified for formal protection, the Dhanauri wetland is an abode of 257 vascular plants while the avifauna includes sarus cranes, painted storks, pheasant-tailed jacanas, bronze-winged jacanas, baya weavers, green beeeaters, marsh harriers, ashy prinias and grey herons.

Over eight breeding pairs of sarus cranes were spotted at the site against only four spotted in Bharatpur.

First Published: Jul 01, 2019 13:15 IST

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