Autumn sonata

Curlew Sandpiper  

The 2016 autumnal bird migration season in Coimbatore has seen an exciting list ranging from Pacific Golden Plovers to Richard’s Pipits. But when assessing the spectacular birds that have traversed through our area, three are extra special: Terek’s Sandpiper, Whimbrel and Curlew Sandpiper. Birders Sharang Satish, Ravindran Kamatchi and R. Sivashankar who spotted these share their experience.

Terek’s Sandpiper: Sharang Satish was on a walk near Singanallur Lake when this bird caught his eye. “While walking along the train tracks to get to the other end of the lake, I noticed a wader fly in and land on the shore. Its long, slightly upturned bill and bright orange legs caught my attention. I was quite certain that it was a Terek’s Sandpiper, an extremely uncommon bird in Coimbatore. But it flew away as quickly as it landed. I knew I had seen something special. So we headed to the end of the lake towards the muddy shore, hoping to catch a glimpse of the bird again. As luck would have it, it was feeding in the mud, in the company of other waders. We took many photographs and established a record of this “passage migrant” for Coimbatore.

Whimbrel: Ravindran Kamatchi was returning to Coimbatore from a bird watching session near the Siruvani foothills, when he spotted a bird standing on the bund of the paddy field. It was much bigger in size than the common waders. However, it soon disappeared into the field. “I could see that it was in the shape of a curlew, but slightly smaller. In order to get a good photograph, I approached the caretaker for permission to enter and patiently waited for the bird to reappear. When it did, I took many photographs. We identified it as a Whimbrel, with the help of a field guide. It is a coastal bird that is extremely uncommon in interior areas like Coimbatore.

Curlew Sandpiper: R. Sivashankar arrived at the southern end of Sulur Lake, 20 km east of Coimbatore. “After a birdwatching session in Kannampalayam Lake, I stopped in at Sulur Lake around 9.00 a.m. to check for passage migrant shorebirds. Much to my astonishment, I saw a rather distinct looking shorebird vigorously feeding amid a flock of Little Stints, a short distance away. The size and posture was noticeably different due to its down-curved bill and slightly larger size. I immediately photographed this bird, which I now strongly suspected of being a Curlew Sandpiper, not seen in our area since Harish Venkataraman’s sighting in Nov 2013. Later, with a help of field guide, I was able to confirm it as the elusive Curlew Sandpiper, a ‘Life Bird’ for me”.

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Printable version | Apr 19, 2021 1:29:31 AM |

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