MigrantWatch round-up: October 2013

Wednesday, November 13, 2013 4:37

The latest news at MigrantWatch has been emailed to all participants via the October 2013 issue of the monthly round-up. You can see an archive of these monthly messages here.

If you are registered with us, but haven’t received this email, please check your spam folder; and add mw@migrantwatch.in to your address book. Please send us a message if you have any questions.

25,000th sighting on MigrantWatch!

Saturday, November 9, 2013 13:37

MigrantWatch reached yet another landmark with the logging of the 25,000th record — a White Wagtail by Nil N. Mohite. Remarkably, this sighting was from Amravati (Maharashtra) again! It may be noted that Amravati also has the distinction of reporting the 10,000th, 15,000th, as well as the 20,000th observation on MigrantWatch!

Hearty congratulations to everyone from the MigrantWatch community who contributed to this effort!

MigrantWatch round-up: September 2013

Saturday, October 12, 2013 11:51

The latest news at MigrantWatch has been emailed to all participants via the September 2013 issue of the monthly round-up. You can see an archive of these monthly messages here.

If you are registered with us, but haven’t received this email, please check your spam folder; and add mw@migrantwatch.in to your address book. Please send us a message if you have any questions.

Dewar’s Calendar — October

Friday, October 11, 2013 21:04

October is a season when autumnal migrants flood the Indian subcontinent. Douglas Dewar beautifully summarises this month in his A Bird Calendar for Northern India, published in 1916.

October in India differs from the English month in almost every respect…In England autumn is the season for the departure of the migratory birds; in India it is the time of their arrival…In many ways the autumn season in Northern India resembles the English spring. The Indian October may be likened to April in England. Both are months of hope, heralds of the most pleasant period of the year. In both the countryside is fresh and green. In both millions of avian visitors arrive.

It is good to ride forth on an October morn with the object of renewing acquaintance with nimble wagtails, sprightly redstarts, stately demoiselle cranes and other newly-returned migrants.

Migration and moulting are the chief events in the feathered world at the present season. The flood of autumn immigration, which arose as a tiny stream in August, and increased in volume nightly throughout September, becomes, in October, a mighty river on the bosom of which millions of birds are borne.

Day by day the avian population of the jhils increases. At the beginning of the month the garganey teal are almost the only migratory ducks to be seen on them. By the first of November brahminy duck, gadwall, common teal, widgeon, shovellers and the various species of pochard abound. With the duck come demoiselle cranes, curlews, storks, and sandpipers of various species. The geese and the pintail ducks, however, do not return to India until November. These are the last of the regular winter visitors to come and the first to go.

The various kinds of birds of prey which began to appear in September continue to arrive throughout the present month.

Grey-headed and red-breasted flycatchers, minivets, bush-chats, rose-finches and swallows pour into the plains from the Himalayas, while from beyond those mountains come redstarts, wagtails, starlings, buntings, blue-throats, quail and snipe. Along with the other migrants come numbers of rooks and jackdaws. These do not venture far into India; they confine themselves to the North-West Frontier Province and the Punjab, where they remain during the greater part of the winter. The exodus, from the above-mentioned Provinces, of the bee-eaters, sunbirds, yellow-throated sparrows, orioles, red turtle-doves and paradise flycatchers is complete by the end of October. The above are by no means the only birds that undergo local migration. The great majority of species probably move about in a methodical manner in the course of the year; a great deal of local migration is overlooked, because the birds that move away from a locality are replaced by others of their kind that come from other places.

Taken, with grateful thanks, from Project Gutenberg.

Recap of the 2012-13 season: Part 3 – Species records

Sunday, September 15, 2013 12:05

In this section we explore species-wise break-up of observations on MigrantWatch for 2012-13 and compare them with the previous season’s patterns. (Note that the migration “season” is taken to begin on 1 July of one year and end on 30 June the next year.)

Top 20 species for 2012-13

Species

Records in 2012-13

Common Sandpiper

368

Grey Wagtail

298

White Wagtail

267

Pied Cuckoo

267

Barn Swallow

254

Rosy Starling

245

Wood Sandpiper

236

Blyth’s Reed-warbler

219

Western Yellow Wagtail

206

Greenish Warbler

203

Green Sandpiper

187

Western Marsh Harrier

173

Northern Shoveler

157

Northern Pintail

138

Hume’s Leaf-warbler

132

Whiskered Tern

128

Garganey

127

Brown Shrike

126

Western Black-tailed Godwit

120

Common Greenshank

119

Boldface indicates species that also figured among the top 20 during the previous season (see table below)

Species

Records in 2011-12

Rosy Starling

239

Pied Cuckoo

170

Blyth’s Reed-warbler

122

Common Sandpiper

119

Barn Swallow

117

Greenish Warbler

112

Wood Sandpiper

95

Ashy Drongo

93

Grey Wagtail

90

Western Yellow Wagtail

85

White Wagtail

79

Western Marsh Harrier

77

Common Kestrel

75

Booted Warbler

75

Green Sandpiper

71

Northern Shoveler

69

Brown Shrike

66

Eurasian Golden Oriole

59

Common Redshank

56

Asian Paradise Flycatcher

55

Zone-wise top 5 species during 2012-13

The top 5 species were considered separately for each zone (see table below). A look at this list indicates that the most-observed species vary appreciably according to zone. As there are very few sightings from the Northeast and the Islands, these zones are excluded from comparison.

North

Northwest

Central

South

White Wagtail

Rosy Starling

Common Sandpiper

Barn Swallow

Grey Wagtail

Common Sandpiper

Pied Cuckoo

Common Sandpiper

Hume’s Leaf-warbler

Greater Flamingo

Western Yellow Wagtail

Wood Sandpiper

Greenish Warbler

Western Black-tailed Godwit

Grey Wagtail

Blyth’s Reed-warbler

Grey-headed C. Flycatcher

Northern Shoveler

White Wagtail

Brown Shrike

Half of all observations logged by MigrantWatchers in 2012-13 belong to 24 of the 265 species tracked by MigrantWatch. Interestingly, this number has remained nearly constant across the past five seasons (range 19-24). This suggests that there are some species that are either more popular, or are more abundant, or are easier to detect than other species.

 

Next in the series: Sighting data

Arrival patterns of prominent migrants – V

Tuesday, September 10, 2013 11:17

This time we look at the arrival patterns of warblers. (Please note that each sighting is shown as a vertical black line.)

bar code - group 4- warblers

From the above illustration we can see that all the above four warbler species start arriving  in early September. However, Blyth’s Reed-warbler appears to stay around the longest (until May). Booted Warbler leaves about a fortnight earlier than Blyth’s (mid-April), while Lesser Whitethroat and Hume’s Leaf-warbler stay only until the second half of March. These interesting patterns have only been revealed thanks to observations logged in by keen MigrantWatchers.

Recap of the 2012-13 season: Part 2 – Sightings and geographical break-up

Thursday, September 5, 2013 5:27

Here we look at number of sightings contributed and their geographical break-up for 2012-13 and compare these with the previous season’s figures. (Please note that the migration “season” is taken to begin on 1 July of one year and end on 30 June the next year.)

Number of sightings

MW reports per mig seasonDuring the 2012-13 season 9017 sightings were uploaded by MigrantWatchers, which was more than twice that of the previous season.

Zone-wise sightings during 2012-13

We have divided the country into very rough zones, as you can see below. In the 2012-13 season the Central zone accounted for most of the sightings, closely followed by the South. Although the NorthWest zone appears to lag behind, do note that this consists of only two large states, so actually is doing very well! Very few sightings came from the Northeast, and none at all from the Islands (Andaman & Nicobars, and Lakshadweep).

MW reports pc per region - 2012-13A marked difference from the previous season’s break-up was that Central zone overtook South in terms of the share of the sightings for 2012-13 (see below).

MW reports pc per region - 2011-12

Zone-wise increase in sightings

All zones (except for Islands) showed an increase over the previous season’s sightings (see following chart). The Central zone recorded the highest increase in the number of reports (up 194% over previous season), followed by South and North. Although the number of reports is small, the trend for Northeast was positive (+44%) and we hope that many more sightings will pour in from this under-represented region in the coming seasons.

MW reports per region - perc increase

Top States 2012-13

Maharashtra, Karnataka and Gujarat returned the most number of sightings during 2012-13, followed by Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand (see table below).

State

Records in 2012-13

Maharashtra

2172

Karnataka

1851

Gujarat

1548

Madhya Pradesh

630

Uttarakhand

502

Haryana

355

Tamil Nadu

343

Delhi

272

Kerala

235

Chhattisgarh

228

For comparison, here are the details of the top 10 states during the previous season (2011-12).

State

Records in 2011-12

Karnataka

1013

Maharashtra

942

Gujarat

771

Delhi

230

Rajasthan

226

Kerala

179

Uttar Pradesh

126

Uttarakhand

113

Chhattisgarh

90

Tamil Nadu

82

Next in the series: Species records

Recap of the 2012-13 season: Part 1 – Contributors

Wednesday, September 4, 2013 16:42

Beginning with this post we present a series of articles that summarise the recently concluded MigrantWatch season (i.e. 2012-13), and compare it with previous seasons. 

In this part we look at our contributors for 2012-13 and examine changes in contributors over the years. In all cases, we define a “season” as starting on 1 July of one year and ending on 30 June of the next year.

Number of contributors

MW contributors per mig seasonAs shown above, the last season saw contributions from 273 MigrantWatchers, which is an all-time high.

Top contributors for 2012-13

Contributor

Records

Shantilal Varu

1331

A Shivaprakash

894

Prathamesh Desai

656

Dipu Sasi

593

Pradnyavant Mane

559

Sachin Shurpali

318

Jayant Wadatkar

316

Ramit Singal

302

Arun M. K. Bharos

274

B R Sheshgiri

260

Number of new contributors MW new contributors per mig season

134 new people joined MigrantWatch and started contributing during the last season (see list below). The number of new entrants has been picking up in the last three seasons. (The number of new contributors in the first season is, of course, the total for that season!)

New contributors in 2012-13

Aathira Perinchery, Abhijeet Avate, Abhijit Juvekar, Aditya Sawant, Ajay Dongre, Akhil Kulkarni, Alexia Aicha, Alok Marathe, Amitabh Cheekoth, Amit Kumar Ghosh, Amritansh Bhanot, Aneesh Kotwal, Anshul Jain, Aparna Jois, Appavu Pavendhan, Arun Agnihotri, Ashish Desai, Bhalchandra Pujari, Bhargav Dwarki, Biang La Nam Syiem, Binod Borah, Binu Balakrishnan, B R Sheshgiri, Chayant Gonsalves, Chinmay Rahane, Chockalingam Selvaraj, Darasingh Shyoran, Deepak Balasubramanian, Deepu Valathara, Devki Nandan, Dilip Nilakhe, Dr. Himmat Singh, Dr Kapil Paliwal, Faiz Rehman, Gaurav Kavathekar, Gauurav Abhay Bhide, Girish S. Jois, G Parameswaran, Hemant Kumar, Himanshu R. Sampat, Humayun Taher, Indranil Basu Mallick, Janet P, Kaajal Dasgupta, Kalyan Varma, Karthik M Kumar, Karthik Teegalapalli, Karurbadmi Srinivas, Kavitha P G, Kiran Bagade, Kiran Hedau, Kiran Kadam, Krishna Murthy, Kshitish Barada, Kuldeep Shukla, Kushal Kiran Kulkarni, Lloyd Nehemiah, Malik Mohammed Shabbir, Manish Kumar, Manoj K. Bind, Mehta Bhagirath Umeshbhai, Milind Sawdekar, Mittal, Mohan Moolepetlu, M S Sekhon, Munish Kaushik, Nabarun Sadhya, Nagraj, Narayan, Nil N. Mohite, Nishant Shah, Panchami Ukil, Pooja Yashwant Pawar, Prabhat Thakur, Prakash Garde, Prashant Murty, Praveen Bhat, Praveen Manivannan, Pronoy Baidya, Pushkar, Puttaraju Kenchappa, Rahul Jagtap, Rahul P Kumbhar, Raj Gopal Singh Verma, Ranjan Kr. Barthakur, Ravi Kailas, Ravi Meghani, Ravindrakumar Soman, Ravisankar Swaminathan, Rohidas Namdeo Dagale, Rohit Naniwadekar, Rohit Singh, Rosita Sequeira, S Anagha, Sanjay Diwakar Kulkarni, Sanket Dharashivkar, Santhosh Krishnamoorthy, Saravana Ganesh, Sathyanarayana Srinivasan, Shah Jahan, Shantanu Joshi , Shanthi Chandola, Shiraz Cambatta, Shirolkar BW, Shraddha Vyas, Shrikant M Khanadali, Shukla Ankit U., Sita rama Raju P, Sivakumar, S Karthikeyan, Sneha Dharwadkar, Somen Sarkar, Srijan Roy Choudhury, Srikanth A P, Subramanian Sankar, Sudhir Shukla, Sunil Bhavsar, Supriya Singh, Suvrat Sehgal, Swapnil Kuldiwar, Tallulah D’Silva, Tanaya Pai, Thorkild Michaelsen, Umesh Marudhachalam, Utkarsh Chowdhary, Venkatesh Kollipara, Vijay Ramachandran, Vinayak Parmar, Vinoba, Vinod Kumar, Vishnupriya Kolipakam, Yajuvendra Upadhyaya, Zenobia Driver

What percent of observers contribute 50% of all records?

MW perc obs by 50pc rep

During the past season half of all records were contributed by just 2% of the observers. (The proportion has more-or-less been maintained for the past three seasons.) This indicates that there is a very small number of MigrantWatchers that are exceptionally active. About 38% of contributors have uploaded a single sighting each, and this has varied slightly (i.e. between 32% and 41%) over the seasons. In the times to come we hope that we can motivate the not-so-active participants to contribute more regularly.

Next in the series: number of sightings contributed and their geographical break-up.

Zafar Futehally no more

Tuesday, September 3, 2013 6:29

Zafar Futehally

Photo by L. Shyamal


We pay tribute to Zafar Futehally, one of India’s pioneering ornithologists and conservationists, who passed away on 11 August 2013. We are very grateful to him for his support and encouragement when we started MigrantWatch back in July 2007.

Here are some recent articles on this remarkable person:

Remembering Baba – by Zai Whitaker in the Indian Express

Veteran naturalist Zafar Futehally passes away – by Ashish and Shanthi Chandola on the BNHS website.

A guiding light.. – by Deepa Mohan on Citizen Matters.

And here is an old interview of Zafar saab on kolkatabirds.

Dewar’s Calendar — September

Wednesday, August 28, 2013 5:35

September is considered a very important month in the migration calendar, and is so wonderfully described by Douglas Dewar in his A Bird Calendar for Northern India, published in 1916.

Great changes in the avifauna take place in September…the great autumnal immigration takes place throughout the month. Before September is half over the migratory wagtails begin to appear… They arrive in silence, but on the morning of their coming the observer cannot fail to notice their cheerful little notes, which, like the hanging of the village smoke, are to be numbered among the signs of the approach of winter. The three species that visit India in the largest numbers are the white (Motacilla alba), the masked (M. personata)* and the grey wagtail. In Bengal the first two are largely replaced by the white-faced wagtail (M. leucopsis)*… The three species arrive almost simultaneously, but the experience of the writer is that the grey bird usually comes a day or two before his cousins.On one of the last ten days of September the first batch of Indian redstarts # (Ruticilla frontalis) reaches India. Within twenty days of the coming of these welcome little birds it is possible to dispense with punkas.

Like the redstarts the rose-finches and minivets begin to pour into India towards the end of September. The snipe arrive daily throughout the month.

With the first full moon of September come the grey quail ## (Coturnix communis). When the stream of immigrating quail has ceased to flow, these birds spread themselves over the well-cropped country.

Thousands of blue-winged teal @ invade India in September, but most of the other species of non-resident duck do not arrive until October or even November.

Not the least important of the September arrivals are the migratory birds of prey… The necessity of following their favourite quarry may account for the migratory habits of some birds of prey, but it does not apply to all. Thus, the osprey, which feeds almost exclusively on fish, is merely a winter visitor to India. Again, there is the kestrel. This preys on non-migratory rats and mice, nevertheless it leaves the plains in the hot weather and goes to the Himalayas to breed. All the species of birds of prey cited above as migratory begin to arrive in the plains of India in September. The merlins come only into the Punjab, but most of the other raptores spread over the whole of India.

The various species of harrier make their appearance in September. These are birds that cannot fail to attract attention. They usually fly slowly a few feet above the surface of the earth so that they can drop suddenly on their quarry. They squat on the ground when resting, but their wings are long and their bodies light, so that they do not need much rest. Those who shoot duck have occasion often to say hard things of the marsh-harrier and the peregrine falcon, because these birds are apt to come as unbidden guests to the shoot and carry off wounded duck and teal before the shikari has time to retrieve them.

Of the migratory birds of prey the kestrel is perhaps the first to arrive; the osprey and the peregrine falcon are among the last.

Very few observations of the comings and the goings of the various raptorial birds have been recorded; in the present state of our knowledge it is not possible to compile an accurate table showing the usual order in which the various species appear. This is a subject to which those persons who dwell permanently in one place might with advantage direct their attention.

* Now considered as a subspecies of White Wagtail

# Current name: Blue-fronted Redstart Phoenicurus frontalis

## Current name: Common Quail Coturnix coturnix

@ Current name: Common Teal Anas crecca

Taken, with grateful thanks, from Project Gutenberg.