Vikram Jit Singh, TNN | Mar 28, 2014, 04.05AM IST
CHANDIGARH: What would be a marine bird, usually seen along the coasts of Gujarat, be doing at Sukhna Lake as winter wanes? Bird lovers of the city and ornithologists across the country have been delighted to get the first and "exceptional" record of the Saunder's tern (Sternula saunderesi) at Sukhna on March 22, whose identity and differentiation from the similar-looking Little tern (Sternula albifrons) has been established following scrutiny by experts over several days.
The Saunder's tern at Sukhna, which is hundreds of miles off its known habitat, is from a "migratory flocking species that nests in small colonies on scrapes in sand/gravel. This species often hovers with rapid wing-beats before plunge-diving for fish in water".
As spring enters, the Tricity region and its wetlands are visited by many rare birds or vagrants, which have been driven off course by weather changes and storms. Birds on return migration also visit the wetlands briefly. Another very unusual record has been the sighting of the globally vulnerable species, the Indian skimmer, at Sukhna, also on March 22 by wildlife photographer, Sarabjit Lehal. However, the skimmer was first sighted at Sukhna last year on April 19 and photographed then by Alpana NP Singh.