New sightings excite birders

Bird watchers in Tamil Nadu are reporting new sightings for seven species in the State, including the bristled grass warbler, recorded after a gap of 175 years. Their records have now increased the number of bird species to 522.

“Round island petrel, lesser adjutant, Swinhoe’s minivet, Pallas’s Grasshopper warbler, the bristled grass warbler and common starling are the new species that have found a place in the list this year,’ said P. Jeganathan, ornithologist and coordinator of Tamil Birders Network.

Bird watchers from across the state attended the Tamil Birders Meet 2016, a two-day event organised at PSN Engineering College in Tirunelveli on November 12 and 13 and discussed plans for the annual Pongal bird count.

“Birdwatching has become a contest. People are running after records. The big quest is to find a new species. That perception will not add value to birdwatching,” said ornithologist V. Shantaram, who attended the conference.

V. Rajarajan, a birder, spotted bristled grass warbler at Mittanamalli wetland in Tiruvallur. “The existence of the bird is recorded after 175 years. It was accepted in the list in 2015 and now we have a photograph,” said Mr Jeganathan.

Blue-and-white flycatcher, not often recorded in South India, was added to the list in the latest edition. A native of China and Korea, it was spotted at Jawaharlal Nehru Park at Udhagamandalam by bird watcher Bhoopathy.

Swinhoe’s minivet, another South-East Asian species was spotted at Chennai’s Theosophical Society by Umesh Mani, while Pallas’ grasshopper warbler was found in Pallikaranai marshlands on the city’s southeastern suburbs by Aravind Amirtharaj. A lesser adjutant stork, which winters in the Western Ghats, was spotted by K.V.R.K. Thirunaranan at Singara Road in Masinagudi.

A common starling entry was not earlier accepted in the list as no records with description and details were found. It now finds a place, and has been accepted based on a specimen at the Madras Museum.

Naturalist and writer Theodore Baskaran said the Centre could have printed images of Blackbuck, which is endemic to India in the new currencies. Mr. Jeganathan said to ensure the high participation in the Pongal bird count, the organisation had appointed district coordinators, who would identify young birders.

Blue-and-white flycatcher, Swinhoe’s minivet and Pallas’ grasshopper warbler are among those spotted

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