A six-member team attached to Pathanamthitta Birders has spotted the Bar-headed goose (Anser Indicus) in the wetlands of Karingali Puncha, near Pandalam, reportedly the first sighting in the district.
According to Hari Mavelikkara, birdwatcher and district coordinator of the Bird Atlas Project, the team comprising Robin C. Koshy, Jiji Sam, Libin Abraham, Stebin, Aben and Sabu sighted this rare goose species in the Karingali Puncha on December 21.
The Puncha is a major birding spot in the district which reported the highest bird count in the Asian Waterfowl Census of 2015.
Mr. Hari said the bar-headed goose was the 336th bird species found in the district.
Bar-headed geese are found in central China and Mangolia and they breed there. They start migration to the Indian sub-continent during the winter and stay here till the end of the season.
They are one of the birds which can fly even at very high altitude. They come to India and return to their homes by crossing the Himalayan ranges.
Their migration has been a fascination for birders as they cross the Himalayas on one of the most high-altitude migrations in the world.
Their ability to sustain the high oxygen demands of flight in air that is exceedingly oxygen-thin is exceptional. The capacity of bar-headed geese to transport and consume oxygen at high rates in hypoxia distinguishes this species from similar lowland waterfowl.
Two years ago, a few birds were observed in the Periyar Lake at Thekkady. Before that, some other observations were made in the Thrissur kole fields and in Kollam.
Large flocks used to visit the Koonthakulam bird sanctuary at Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu. However, it is very rare that the bird is spotted in Kerala and hence the recent sighting at Karingali puncha is important, says Mr Hari.