Good news for bird watchers

IT'S GOOD news for bird lovers of the State with the city-based group of bird watchers, Warblers and Waders, sighting the Siberian Stone Chat, a sparrow sized resident bird of Western Siberia at Wayanad.

A rare visitor in the State, the bird was sighted at the grassy hill side at Soochippara by C. Susanth, K. Rafeek and members of the study team of the Warblers and Waders. The team's sighting has been confirmed by the British ornithologist, Simon Aspinall, who had earlier carried out a study on the same bird species.

The Siberian Stone Chats, which are usually shy by nature, were indeed difficult to be closely observed within a short period.

It needed several days for studying the habitat of the bird, says Mr. Susanth, leader of the team.

The Chats which are seen in pairs usually perch on top of low bushes making short descents to the ground for its food and returning back to the same branch or fly low to another branch. The Chats also catch insects in the air.

However, the sighting of the Chats is a matter of concern too, says Mr. Susanth. The species, which is usually seen in drought-hit areas as well as in hot places in the Gulf countries, has made its appearance in Kerala, thus pointing towards the possibilities of severe drought in the coming years.

The Chats were first sighted by Mr. Aspinall in UAE, Pakistan and some parts of North India. However, the sighting is the first of its kind in Kerala.

At the same time, the Common Stone Chat (Sascicola Indica), which is considered as the kin of the Siberian Chat is a regular visitor in the State, says Mr. Susanth.

The study team has decided to send a detailed study report about the Stone Chat to the authorities of the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) for further assistance.

By Hari Sundar G

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