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New bird species spotted by Bengali bird enthusiasts in Arunachal - GetBengal story

28 November, 2023 10:43:23
New bird species spotted by Bengali bird enthusiasts in Arunachal - GetBengal story

Lapland Longspur

In the early hours of a wintry morning a few weeks ago, Sourav Haldar and his companion Shubhro Pakhira embarked on an adventurous birdwatching expedition in the picturesque landscapes of Arunachal Pradesh. Their goal was to observe the recently discovered Lisu Wren Babbler, a new bird species they had identified themselves. Accompanied by local guides Rabi Mekola, Rahul Barua, and Yashi Lama, the group set out from Kolkata just before the festive season. Their destination was Bijoyongarh, located 80 kilometers from Miao, Arunachal Pradesh. Lisu Wren Babblers, belonging to the babbler family Timaliidae, had been identified in remote northeastern Arunachal Pradesh by some bird enthusiasts in December, 2022. The discovery was significant enough to be published in Indian BIRDS, a peer-reviewed journal of South Asian ornithology.

On that memorable morning, as they traversed the dense jungles, their keen eyes spotted an unfamiliar small bird, resembling a Bunting, approximately 37 miles away inside a park. This enigmatic avian creature was engrossed in feeding on grass seeds. Without hesitation, Sourav and his companions swiftly captured the moment, snapping numerous photos and recording videos of the previously undocumented bird species. This unexpected encounter added another exciting chapter to their bird watching expedition, expanding their knowledge and understanding of the diverse avian life in the region.

Bird enthusiast Sourav Haldar

After they reached Kolkata, they posted those photos and videos on the bird identification Facebook platform- “Ask IDS of Indian Birds”. Hongkong’s bird expert, Tom Lee, a sojourner of South Korea, Shubhojit Chakladar and Brian Stretcher from Britain had previously located this bird in those countries. The bird’s name is Lapland Longspur. But it was never seen in India before.

The Lapland Longspur inhabits the Sumeru region. They wander around in North America and Eurasia. In those areas, this bird is quite common. They reside in small or big groups. Their size is somewhat similar to sparrows. During winters, this bird migrates to Mongolia, China, Japan and Korea. There are also records of spotting this bird in Thailand and Bhutan. But this is the first time that this bird has been spotted in India. Lapland Longspurs walk or run across open landscapes, often taking cover among plant stalks or crouching motionless against the ground, depending on their excellent camouflage to conceal them. They form large, nomadic flocks in winter. Flushed birds often fly quite high and settle far from their original position, they breed in the arctic tundra. In winters they prefer open habitats including used agricultural fields, turf farms, and coastal dunes. Breeding males have a bold black face bordered by a swooping yellow-white line and a rich rufous patch on the back of the neck. Females are similar but lack the extensive black. In winter, males and females retain an echo of face pattern but lack the blocks of colour, becoming overall pale brown and streaked. In all plumages, the tail is dark with white outer tail feathers.

All bird watchers and bird enthusiasts of Bengal are thrilled to see a new bird species getting added to the list of migratory birds of India. The Bird Watcher’s Society has expressed immense excitement and joy. Bird watching is a popular recreational activity that involves observing and appreciating birds in their natural habitat. Enthusiasts, known as birdwatchers or birders, use binoculars, telescopes, and field guides to identify and study various bird species. Bird watching provides a wonderful opportunity to connect with nature, fostering a deeper appreciation for the avian world and the environment.

Birders often visit diverse habitats such as forests, wetlands, parks, and even urban areas to observe different bird species. They patiently wait and quietly observe the behaviour, plumage, and songs of birds, enhancing their understanding of these fascinating creatures. Many bird watchers keep detailed records of their sightings, contributing valuable data to scientific research and conservation efforts.

Apart from its recreational aspects, bird watching offers several benefits. It promotes mental well-being by providing a sense of calm and relaxation, allowing individuals to escape the stresses of everyday life. It also encourages physical activity as birders often hike or walk while exploring birding locations. Additionally, bird watching promotes environmental awareness and conservation efforts, as enthusiasts develop a deeper understanding of the importance of preserving natural habitats for birds and other wildlife.

There are many guides who earn a living by regularly leading the path to show many such birders the hotspots where such birds can be spotted. New words such as Bird Tourism have gained prominence and are known to most. The guides keep in-depth knowledge about the birds under their jurisdiction and are very much in demand nowadays. Winters are just approaching and it is the best season to spend some time amidst the arms of nature and dive into the world of such enigmatic avian creatures who prove that art is everywhere around this beautiful world.  

Image courtesy : Facebook of Sourav Haldar

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