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.

Thursday 21 February 2019

The city's 'first' shade of purple

12:00 AM, January 25, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 05:14 AM, January 25, 2019
For the first time in a generation, a rare Purple Heron was spotted near a lake in the capital. These birds of Bangladesh are seen only occasionally in the reed beds of large fresh-water lakes called haors.
It was heartening to see the beautiful bird trying to find a place in this rather unlivable city of ours.
The Purple Heron was a pleasant surprise to birdwatchers because even Pond Herons, commonly found elsewhere in Bangladesh, were a rare sight in the capital. The city is encircled by rivers like the Turag, Balu and Buriganga, and sprinkled with lakes of Dhanmandi, Gulshan and Mirpur etc. But much of these water bodies are not welcome places for waterfowl or wading birds. Although people continue to live by the noxious water of Dhaka, our prudent avian friends seem to want nothing of it.
With this level of pollution, it is fascinating to find a bird such as the Purple Heron try to make our city its home. The bird has chosen to inhabit the large lake between Mirpur Cantonment and the Birulia embankment. With nearly 640 acres of water and easily the largest lake in the city, it is called Goranchatbari ponding area.
The lonely Purple Heron was seen sitting on a pile of sticks between two islands at the north of lake. The only other large wader keeping its company there was a Grey Heron.
Although a second Purple Heron was nowhere near, it could well be there somewhere in the lake. A pair of Purple Herons usually split at dawn to forage at different sites and get together only at nightfall to sleep. The two islands, completely covered with trees and undergrowth, were likely to be the herons' place of rest.
Although opaque and rancid, the lake-water seemed to have enough fish, frogs, insects, snakes and mollusks to feed hundreds of cormorants, herons and egrets. Birdwatchers were elated to see half a dozen Little Grebes racing over the water and a thousand Lesser Whistling Ducks resting in the floating forest of water-hyacinths. 

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