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.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Save Kirala Kele, a cry from environmentalists

In December, a Baillon’s Crake a rare migratory bird to Sri Lanka was spotted in Kirala kele
With World Wetland Day being celebrated on Thursday (February 2) bird lovers here have called to protect the Kirala Kele wetland that recently made headlines due to the sighting of a record number of migratory birds.

Kirala Kele in Sinhala means ‘forest of kirala trees- or a ‘mangrove forest’. It covers an area of 1,800 ha with 310 ha of it being designated a wetland located at the exit of the Southern expressway in Godagama about three km from Matara town.

In December, a Baillon’s Crake a rare migratory bird to Sri Lanka was spotted in Kirala kele. The bird was seen in a particular area of the wetland, and bird watchers flocked to the wetland to see this rare bird. Subsequently more rare migratory birds such as the grey-headed lapwing, turtle dove, comb duck, marsh and even the greater spotted eagle were sighted in a small stretch of the wetland.

Kirala Kele earlier came under the purview of the Southern Development Authority. It was deemed a sanctuary in 2003 and declared as a conserved area under the ‘Sri Lanka – picturesque sites programme’ by a special gazette notification. Kirala kele is made up of different types of wetlands – marshland, mangrove areas, paddy lands, and irrigation canals – as well as numerous home gardens as it borders populated villages. Several encroachments are visible in many areas and concerned environmentalists have brought to attention the urgent need to protect it.

Ruhuna University’s Prof.Saman Chandana Ediriweera who has been researching the biodiversity of Kirala Kele for several years says, ” the area is an ideal wetland habitat for many organisms and can be considered as one of the most valuable conserved areas in the Matara District.” According to a study conducted by IUCN Sri Lanka, 83 plant species, 25 species of fish and 13 mammal species including the endemic Purple-faced Leaf Monkey inhabit Kirala Kele. The study recorded 103 bird species of which 48 were wetland birds and with the recent sighting of rare birds the number would be higher, Prof. Ediriweera said.

Rare gull draws hundreds of birders to Tupper Lake

Feb 3, 2017
Justin A. Levine

TUPPER LAKE — An extremely rare bird has been here for the last week, and it’s drawn hundreds of birders from around the country.

The Ross’ gull makes its home in the Arctic and is rarely seen this far south. Larry Master, a Lake Placid resident who organizes the annual Christmas bird count for the Audubon Society, said this was a once-in-a-lifetime chance for local birders.

Jorie Favreau, a professor at Paul Smith’s College, was in Tupper Lake Wednesday with a group of students and said there were cars from around the Northeast.

“Rare bird sightings usually result in a group of people who are strangers but share a camaraderie (especially when standing in a windy 16 degrees),” Favreau wrote in an email. “The mood was elated.”

“A beautiful small gull of the far north, named after the great Arctic explorer James Clark Ross. Breeds mainly in remote stretches of northern Siberia, spending other seasons among the ice pack of the Arctic Ocean,” the Audubon Society says of the bird. “Was considered almost mythical by most North American birders until 1980, when it began nesting for several years near a paved road at Churchill, Manitoba. Currently regular only at a few points in Alaska, but rare winter strays turn up farther south.”

Master said Jack Delahanty spotted the bird on Tuesday, Jan. 24. When Delahanty couldn’t identify it, he sent photos to Master, who identified it. Master posted the find online, and word spread quickly.

“I was in Washington at a board meeting last week, so I could not go to see the bird on Thursday, when many arrived to see it, but I did see it on Friday and took over 600 photos and videos over the course of a day,” Master said in an email. “This morning (Wednesday), there was a couple there who had driven from Traverse City, Michigan, to see the bird. On the weekend, there were birders in cars with license plates from Georgia, Maryland, Indiana and our bordering states.”

Sunday, 26 February 2017

'Extinct' birds to fly from new habitat

Syed Akbar | TNN | Updated: Jan 25, 2017, 09.17 AM IST
Centre accords priority to Jerdon's Courser and Great Indian Bustard, critically endangered birds of Andhra Pradesh in National Wildlife Action Plan 2017-31.

An alternative habitat for these birds will be identified and developed to save these birds from extinction.

HYDERABAD: Jerdon's Courser and Great Indian Bustard, the critically endangered birds of Andhra Pradesh, got a new 'lease of life' with the Centre according priority to these avian species in National Wildlife Action Plan 2017-31. The birds were earlier included in the five-year species recovery plan, which ended with a whimper last year.

Now, an alternative habitat for these birds will be identified and developed in the next four years to save these birds from extinction.

Jerdon's Courser is endemic to Andhra Pradesh and thrives only in
Lankamalleswara Wildlife Sanctuary in Kadapa district.Only a handful of Jerdon's Coursers are believed to be alive, though the bird was last seen a decade ago. Incidentally, the species became `extinct' and was `rediscovered' twice in last 180 years. It went extinct in 1846 and 1900, but sighted in 1986. The place of its `reappearance' in Kadapa has been declared a wildlife sanctuary.

The Great Indian Bustard is also critically endangered and lives in six states in India, including Andhra Pradesh. Only 300 birds are estimated to exist in the world. Number of birds in its exclusive sanctuary, Rollapadu in Kurnool district, has seen a sharp dip, according to researcher Mohammed Ghouse of
Osmania College in Kurnool. Telangana or any other south Indian state does not have this bird. Centre's latest wildlife action plan calls for "safeguarding genetically pure populations from future genetic contamination". It also lays emphasis on identification of "suitable alternative homes for species with single isolated populations such as Jerdon's Courser". The Centre proposes to create alternative habitat for this rare bird by 2021. The task has been entrusted to AP forest department. The Union ministry of environment, forests and climate change will supervise the action plan.Technical support will be taken from scientific and research institutions to achieve the goal.