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An uncommon winged guest arrives in Delhi

Gaurav Vivek Bhatnagar
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Surprise visitor:“Common Shelduck” or “Shah Chakwa” seen at Okhla Bird Sanctuary this year.
Surprise visitor:“Common Shelduck” or “Shah Chakwa” seen at Okhla Bird Sanctuary this year.

Though it had not been sighted in Delhi for the past 12 years, an uncommon attractive species of migratory duck called “Common Shelduck” — or “Shah Chakwa” in Hindi — has made a surprise presence at the Okhla Bird Sanctuary this year.

According to T.K. Roy, ecologist and coordinator of Asian Waterbird Census 2013, who has been conducting annual surveys on arrival of migratory birds in Delhi for the Wetlands International South Asia, the Common Shelduck was spotted on January 19 along with a pair of Brahmini Duck.

“Common Shelduck is a strikingly coloured duck with white body, greenish head and neck, chestnut colour diagnostic band round the breast and back, bright red colour upturned broad bill and orange legs,” he said.

Thrilled by the sighting, Mr. Roy said it was “uncommon” for the Common Shelduck to visit North India in winter.

“It breeds in Central Asia and Siberia and migrates to Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bangladesh in South Asia and Myanmar in East Asia during the non-breeding period in winter. It is usually seen in saline inland lakes, mudflats and also on the larger lakes and rivers,” he said.

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