10,000th sighting on MigrantWatch

This entry was posted Sunday, 23 October, 2011 at 4:52 am

The 10,000th report on MigrantWatch was uploaded two days ago, on Friday, 21 Oct 2011, with an accompanying photograph. This migrant sighting comes from Mandar Pawgi, Aniket Sayam and Nikhil Wadatkar from Amravati in Maharashtra. Here is a description of the sighting, in Mandar’s words:

On 20th October morning, we made our way to a very famous birding spot in our city, the Wadali tank — a haven for birdlife and birdwatchers. On our arrival, we were welcomed by waterhens, coots, ducks, kingfisher and many other waterbirds. For the past two weeks we had been highly excited to see migratory birds at the tank. This morning, on the eastern corner of the lake, we saw a few waterhens moving actively in the sunlight within the net of Lotus leaves. As we watched them, suddenly Nikhil saw a very beautiful bird with brilliant colours and white spots on the wings. He excitedly called us as this was a new species to us. All the activity put the bird to flight, but before it did so, Nikhil managed to take a few snaps (one is shown below). We were extremely happy to see a new species, which we later confirmed as an Eastern Baillon’s Crake. According to available records the bird is a vagrant at Wadali Tank and surrounds.

The smallest rail found in India, the Eastern Baillon’s Crake Porzana pusilla breeds in Kashmir and in Central and East Asia. This quail-sized swamp bird migrates south and spreads across the subcontinent in September-October, migrating back to its breeding grounds in March-April. It frequents jheels, ponds, marshes and even irrigated cropfields, where it feeds on seeds of aquatic plants, snails, worms, and insects and their larvae.

The greenish bill, white ‘marble’ pattern on the brown upperparts, and short tail separate this species from the much rarer Little Crake Porzana parva, which has a red base to its bill, with wings projecting out more from the body. Eastern Baillon’s Crakes are mostly solitary or are seen in pairs. Because they are more secretive than other crakes, they are relatively difficult to observe, and are easily missed — and there are only 17 reports of this species in the MigrantWatch database so far.

Congratulations to Mandar, Aniket and Nikhil for an excellent sighting, which looks like a juvenile bird from the accompanying photo. Appropriately, the 10,000th MigrantWatch report comes from smack in the centre of the country!

Soon to follow on the blog: a description of the accumulation of sightings to 10,000, together with an appreciation of the MigrantWatchers whose contributions have made this happen.

1 Comment to 10,000th sighting on MigrantWatch

  1. Ravi Damodaran says:

    November 29th, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    I know technically this does not qualify for a migrant watch; spotted a domestic ‘Plymouth Rock’ hen after nearly 45 years. This and Rhode Island variety were very common in 1960s, but now we mainly see white Leg Horns. The sighting was in a slum in Chennai in someone’s front yard.

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