A rare winter migrant, Siberian rubythroat (Calliope calliope), has been recorded in the Nilgiris.
The bird, which breeds in the coniferous forests of Siberia, is known to winter in Thailand, India, Indonesia and Bangladesh.
Chandrasekar Das, an ecologist with the Keystone Foundation, has recorded the bird at Kotagiri. He said that according to the data posted on the eBird website, the bird had been seen only once in Tamil Nadu, in Chennai. “However, I spotted it in the Nilgiris around six years ago as well,” he said.
Spotted in tea estate
“I saw the bird while birding in a tea estate. I could hear the calls of two individuals and tracked them to find one male that I photographed. I will continue to monitor the bird from a distance to find out whether the bird is a vagrant and how long it will be in the Nilgiris. Such insights could help in better understanding of the bird’s behaviour,” he said.
The Siberian rubythroat is a ground-loving songbird. The male has a red throat edged with a narrow black border and a broad white border. Females lack brightly coloured throat and borders, Mr. Chandrasekar Das said.
Each year, bird watchers from across south India watch for winter migrants to the Nilgiris.
Photographer M. Murali, an avid bird watcher, said he had already spotted and recorded rosy starlings, wood sandpipers and northern pintails, all winter migrants to the Nilgiris. “I have also spotted a rare Chinese blue flycatcher, though I have been unable to catch it on camera,” he said.