A rare bird sighted at the city lake

“It was a lucky sighting,” says city-based birding enthusiast Vijaykumar Krishnamurthy. He was at Ukkulam Lake, near Semmedu village at Velliangiri Foothills, when he noticed an unusual bird circling the waters.

“I wasn’t expecting anything interesting, as it was almost noontime when most birds would be roosting. As the lake has been de-silted, the water level was high and so the waders and other related species were fewer in number,”he says.

But, as he walked around the lake, he noticed the white underbelly and a peculiar head and bill, as the circling bird settled on the lake. “It was very different from the common ducks like Spot-billed duck or waders like sandpiper.” As the bird came closer, he photographed it and shared it with fellow birders.

He checked with Dr. Pramod, Senior Scientist at SACON, who confirmed that it was indeed the Great Crested Grebe.

“Dr. Pramod confirmed that the bird was last sighted in Mumbai and Vishakapatnam. It’s a record for South Indian peninsula. Though most water birds fly away when you go closer, the Great Crested Grebe stayed on, completely unperturbed by our presence. We managed to get some nice close-up shots which helped us in identifying the bird correctly.”

A rare bird sighted at the city lake

The Great Crested Grebe is a resident bird of the U.K. It breeds in Central Asia and migrates to Northern India for winter. “There have been many sightings of this beautiful bird in the wetlands of Gujarat, Bihar, and UP. However, there has been no record of the bird in the South, especially in Tamil Nadu. May be this is a single individual, which wandered off from the flock or lost its way,” muses Vijaykumar.

Rare in Tamil Nadu

While the resident little grebes (small in size), are often seen in wetlands in India , the Great Crested Grebes are much larger and rarely seen in Tamil Nadu.

“The tuft of hair behind the head gives the bird its name. It puts the head down into the water and looks for food. The bird circled spirally upwards for a long distance a couple of times and then landed in the same lake during the four hours we spent observing it. May be it is ready to fly away. The bird also flapped its wings while swimming in water, a behaviour exhibited by the male bird in courtship.”

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Printable version | Mar 7, 2021 12:11:25 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/the-great-crested-grebe-stops-by-coimbatore/article22258043.ece

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