As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Tuesday 9 April 2013

Pazhayangadi receives a special visitor from China

P Sudhakaran, TNN Apr 3, 2013, 03.02AM IST

KANNUR: The season of the migratory birds is almost over in Kerala. But the bird enthusiasts of Kannur are bidding adieu to the season with great cheers because they spotted a rare bird from Mongolia in the last week of March near Pazhayangadi.

"Though the hillocks and marshlands in Kannur are a hot spot for migratory birds, it was for the first time in the last eight decades that we spotted the rare bird, Chinese Snipe (Swinhoe's Snipe) here in the marshlands near Pazhayangadi," said noted bird watcher and academician Khaleel Chovva, who spotted the bird along with P C Rajeevan, Jayan Thomas on March 24

He said this bird is a rare winter visitor.

Though the records says British soldier in Kannur, Phythian Adams, had shot 15 Chinese Snipes between 1925 and 1935, there are no recent records about the spotting of the rare bird in Kerala, he said.

The Chinese Snipe (scientific name Gallinago megala ) is a medium-sized, skulking wading bird with long straight bill and a cryptic plumage. This cryptic plumage of the bird enables the snipe to remain undetected by birdwatchers and hunters in marshland.

"The bird has a erratic flight pattern. It is the difficulties in hunting a snipe that gave it the term 'sniper' referring to a skilled anti-personnel military sharpshooter," said Chovva.

He said the bird was spotted among a group of painted snipes. The snipe feeds on insect larvae, earthworms, spiders, beetles and small crustaceans. Interestingly, it feeds with its bill closed, say experts. Without removing its super sensitive bill from almost face-deep mud, the tip of the upper mandible flexes like a pitcher to grab and haul in the grub. The Chinese Snipe breeds in Mongolia and East Asia and in winter comes to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives.

Bird enthusiasts have also sighted some other migratory birds in the wetlands of Kannur during the recent years. This season they had also spotted a black stork in Munderikkadavu.

"These findings throw light on the importance of wetlands as habitat for rare and migratory birds. So these wetlands are precious and are to be preserved without any modification," said Chovva.

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