Posts tagged with “BR Hills”

Kunta is back! Return of the one-legged Grey Wagtail

Tuesday, 20 October, 2009

By TS Ganesh, 13 October 2009

Yes, the one-legged Grey Wagtail has returned to the Biligirirangan (BR) Hills for the third year in a row!

I first observed and photographed this bird in 2007. Much to everyone’s surprise, she returned in 2008. Meghna Krishnadas wrote earlier this year on these pages: “Will our hero survive yet another year and two more long journeys to return to Ganesh’s farm at BR Hills? We shall know the answer in a few months, and all of us, Ganesh included, are keeping our fingers crossed!”

Yes, I fervently hoped that the bird I’ve named Kunta (“lame” in Kannada) would make a hat-trick by showing up this year.


I spotted my first Grey Wagtail this year in the forest — in the first week of September — and promptly entered it into my MigrantWatch account. Since then I have been looking out for the now-famous one-legged bird in and around my home here on BR Hills. On the 10th of October when I was returning from a trip to K Gudi (a resort 23 Km south of here) with some friends, we spotted Kunta near a lake just a kilometre from my home, perched on a power-line. Only one of us, (Ms. Pooja Rao) managed to shoot a few photos of the bird, looking as chirpy as ever, and none the worse for wear after the arduous to-and-fro flights these three years!

The weather has not been favourable – it has been raining almost every day for the past month. A pair of Grey Wagtails has been visiting my backyard for about two weeks now, but still no sign of Kunta, who used to wake me up with her cheeping. Is it possible that the new pair has usurped Kunta’s territory? I hasten to add that there certainly are a greater number of Grey Wagtails in this locality compared to the number in the previous years.

One begins to ask questions like – What is the lifespan of these birds? How do they manage to navigate to the same spot every year? What are the dangers they face during these trips? How many of them head towards peninsular India, and how many return?

I have heard that the average lifespan of passerines like the Grey Wagtail is about 3 years – in which case our hero has certainly lived a full life; 3-not out, if I may say so. Knowing that more than 50 percent of these birds die young, I am amazed at this particular handicapped bird!

Is it too much to hope that Kunta makes history by returning in 2010?

It’s drizzling cuckoos!

Monday, 25 May, 2009

By MigrantWatch Admin

The first of the migrant Pied Cuckoos have arrived. Following the first sighting reported on 17 May by Kshounish Sankar Ray from Kolkata we now have reports of other sightings from across the country.

Alibag, Maharashtra

18 May, Alibag, Maharashtra; 18.6N, 72.8E
Reported by Dr. Vaibhav Deshmukh to birdsofbombayCj pica - rain bird.tif
Dr. Vaibhav Deshmukh, Pravin Kawale and Shriniwas made an unexpected discovery when they went to check on the status of a Shaheen Falcon’s nest at a communication tower at Alibag. While the chicks were being fed Rock Pigeons one of the parents got itself a Pied Cuckoo to feast on! According to Dr. Vaibhav “This was our first sighting of Pied crested cuckoo of this season; unfortunately it became meal for Shaheen”. Anecdotes suggest that Pied Cuckoos arrive exhausted from their flight over the Arabian Sea, and often fall prey to crows and other predators – perhaps the bird at Alibag was similarly handicapped. (You can read more about this on bngbirds.)

Note from MigrantWatch Admin: In 1931, Salim Ali recorded the first Pied Cuckoo of the year for Alibag on 24 May (Ali, S. 1931. JBNHS 34:4).

BR Hills, KarnatakaBRT Pied Cuckoo_Samira
21 May, BRT Wildlife Sanctuary, Chamarajanagar District, Karnataka, 11.98N, 77.13E
Reported by Samira Agnihotri to MigrantWatch
Samira heard the call of the Pied Cuckoo for the first time this season as she walked in the scrubby parts of south BRT. A glance in the direction of the call revealed a pair of these cuckoos flying around from tree to tree and calling repeatedly. The Soliga tribal who was assisting her told her that they call the birds “Malé Godda’ and that it had a reputation of hanging around in the rain a lot.

Sultanpur, Haryana
24 May, Sultanpur National Park, Gurgaon, Haryana, 28.32N, 77.03E
Reported by Cdr. Kanwar B. Singh to MigrantWatchsumit-port11
Kanwar Singh reported the first sighting of the Pied Cuckoo from Sultanpur in Haryana. A trip report by Soma Ateesh Tripathi on delhibird also mentions the sighting.

Nashik, Maharashtra
25 May; Dindori Road, Nashik, Maharashtra, 20.01N, 73.79E.
Reported by Shriram Vaijapurkar to MigrantWatch
Mr. Shriram Vaijapurkar spotted the Pied Cuckoo in the morning at 9:15 AM as it sat on the overhead cable and called. The cuckoo is a annual visitor to the area and this was the first sighting he has had of this bird this year.