Female Bar-headed Goose “NU” four years in a row

This entry was posted Saturday, 3 December, 2011 at 5:39 pm

Text and photos by Tarun Balpande

Born in Pandhurna (M.P.) and settled in Nagpur, Tarun Balpande works as an Area Manager in the Oncology division of a pharmaceutical company. He was drawn into the excitement of birding five years ago, when he took part in a Great Indian Bustard census. After observing migrating Bar-headed Geese, he now concentrates on migratory birds. He also works on the importance of planting fruit-bearing trees, and on getting a bird-feeder in every home in Nagpur.

In 2008, I came to know through the nagpurbirds e-group, run by Tarique Sani, that several Bar-headed Geese had been collared in Mongolia. In November of that year, Raju Kasambe and I started searching around Nagpur for Bar-headed Geese to check for a collar. At one point, Raju Kasambe spotted “something” yellow on the neck of a goose, but our limited optics didn’t allow us to see it clearly.

But the big day finally came!! On 19 January 2009, my wife Rakhee, son Chaitanya and I, together with Kishor Khandekar were watching a group of Bar-headed Geese, when I suddenly noticed a goose with a yellow collar around its neck. Through my binoculars I could read the letters “NU”, and I was able to click a few images with these letters clearly visible. But what did “NU” mean?

With the help of Raju Kasambe and Tarique Sani, I came to know that black lettering on a yellow collar meant that the goose had been marked in Mongolia. Martin Gilbert informed me that NU was an adult female, captured on 17 July 2008 in the Darkhad Valley, Hovsgol province of Mongolia.

Many Bar-headed Geese had been collared there to understand the migration of this species. These birds were collared by a team led by Martin Gilbert, of the Wildlife Conservation Society, Mongolia. A number of species have been marked using different techniques appropriate for each species. The Bar-headed Geese were marked with a neck collar inscribed with a unique alphanumeric code.

All this happened 4800 km away! The Bar-headed Goose we sighted was at Paradgaon lake, which is situated on the Umred road, around 28 km from Nagpur. The entire season myself and other fellow birders were looking for a collar other than NU, but no one find another collared Goose. At the end of the migration season, we were all looking forward to the next season — NU had left us with wonderful memories.

Next season, on 5 November 2009, Raju Kasambe recorded the first arrival of a flock of 300 Geese at Paradgaon lake. 0n 12 December 2009, I clicked a photo of my old Mongolian girlfriend NU! This affair continued in 2010, when I photographed her again on 26 November. I emailed a message to Martin Gilbert, and he replied: “How good to hear from you again, and thank you so much for sending your sighting! …it is indeed great news that you have been able to relocate NU once again, and I believe this is the first time that we have had any bird resighted in three consecutive years!”. This is the best appreciation for any birdwatcher.

This year, 2011, I started monitoring the lake from 10 November. On 24 November 2011, Rakhee, Chaitanya and I, together with birdwatcher Avinash, saw a flock of 275-300 Bar-headed Geese. I started searching the flock for NU. Euphoria !!! she was there !!! As usual I clicked a few photos.

I am proud to report that NU visits Paradgaon lake for the fourth consecutive year! The exact location of the lake is: 20°92’58.06″N 79°22’24.14″E

You can see all of Tarun Balpande’s reports on MigrantWatch.

For other reports of marked birds from Mongolia, look at this page on Birds of India. And a copy of a message from Martin Gilbert is here.

For more information about Bar-headed Geese, including some recent information on their migration, take a look at this species profile on the MigrantWatch blog.

2 Comments to Female Bar-headed Goose “NU” four years in a row

  1. Our guests from Mangolia | Tarique's Travails says:

    December 5th, 2011 at 6:28 am

    […] turning up from Mangolia in a Lake near Nagpur – read the complete story by Tarun Balpande at http://www.migrantwatch.in/blog/2011/12/03/female-bar-headed-goose-nu-four-years-in-a-row/ Tweet Posted in Tumblog | Tags: bar-headed geese, birdlife, photography You can leave a […]

  2. v.l.upadya says:

    March 12th, 2012 at 5:27 am

    Good work done.Kudos

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