Has the migratory Osprey found an additional home?

An Osprey with its kill flying over Siruthavoor lake. Photo: Rama Neelamegam   | Photo Credit: Rama Neelamegam

Is the migratory Ospery more at home in Chennai and neighbouring districts than believed? That question is being asked by birdwatchers, their human-superciliums raised by the species’ frequency data.

The raptor has redefined the migratory season for itself, being consistently sighted outside that window. Observed for a reasonable passage of time, this pattern prompts a consideration: Has a small population of them become residents?

Sundaravel Palanivelu echoes a notion entertained by the birding community in these parts. That the Ospreys showing up at Siruthavoor lake could be residents; because they show up when they should not. Osprey frequency documentation seems to tilt the scales in its favour.

An Osprey at Kaveripakkam lake area. Photo: Rama Neelamegam

An Osprey at Kaveripakkam lake area. Photo: Rama Neelamegam   | Photo Credit: Rama Neelamegam

Despite data, birders like Sundaravel know the notion has to be treated as a fledgling, and let time decide whether it should grow to adulhood. Or, if it should be allowed to go with the wind, as all vaporous notions do.

On the same page, eBird reviewer Vikas Madhav Nagarajan believes a paradoxical ‘no-and-yes’ response would be in order, at this point of time.

“The right response should be: We are not really sure now. I too have seen Ospreys in places like Adyar Estuary in June and July — that was in 2016, when they were also seen early. Now, they are either staying longer and leaving late or coming back early. Or, it could be both. And that may be creating the illusion that the bird is not migrating back to their known breeding grounds, and has found one nearby. So, the bird would not be there only in July and August. Generally, resident birds breed, but there are no records of Ospreys breeding in India, and certainly not in Tamil Nadu. Of course, there are distinctions between breeding and non-breeding residents. But when it comes to Ospreys, it becoming a resident is not impossible but highly unlikely.”

Osprey pitstops
  • Places in Chennai and neighbouring districts known for Osprey sightings include Adyar Estuary, Perumbakkam wetland, Pallikaranai marsh, Kelambakkam backwaters, Kaiveli, Thaiyur lake, Kattur lake, Siruthavoor lake, Polacheri lake, Pulicat lake and Nayapakkam lake.
  • In Vellore, Ospreys show up at Kaveripakkam lake.

That said, Vikas still allows for the possibility that “in a few more years” what is presumed may be observed and verified fact.

He continues: “Earlier, flamingos were strictly migratory, but now throughout the year, we find a chunk of them in some parts. As of today, it is difficult to come to a conclusion about Ospreys, and so it is a ‘no’. Is it possible for this to happen: I would say ‘yes’.”

This stand seems to rest almost entirely on the strength of the fact that the Osprey is a coastal bird that is also found inland around lakes and wetlands where they can fish.

“Going by the Osprey experience in the Americas, they would need a coastal forest nearby. And we have a good location for it to happen: Pulicat, which is seen as a coastal island. There are other possibilities: One of them being the Pichavaram mangroves with its forest-islets.”

Sundaravel draws attention to the Osprey’s distribution, covering all continents, except for what is the Penguins’ fiefdom. That demonstrates the bird has a cladding of steel, enabling it to thrive in diverse coordinates. Does that say anything about the discussed topic?

A piscivore, Osprey is mostly frozen in images of how it would be parked on a pylon or electric pole, sometimes feeding on the fish it had carried up there to the perch. Or, images of it carrying its kill to a perch, having the fish pinned first with the talons on one leg, followed by the talons on the other, which have led birders to bestow the title “skateboarder in the skies” on the bird.

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Printable version | Apr 12, 2021 7:13:04 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/have-the-migratory-ospreys-found-an-additional-home/article33937856.ece

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