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Eureka! BNHS-tagged bid tracked to Siberia

Black-tailed Godwit is back at Bhandup pumping station

NatConnect Foundation

The bird, named Bala after renowned researcher Dr D Balachandran, left Mumbai in April and is now back at Bhandup pumping station,

MUMBAI: In a Eureka moment for BNHS Scientists, a migratory bird black-tailed Godwit, tagged with a GPS device in Mumbai in March, has been tracked to Southwestern Siberia in June.

The bird, named Bala after renowned researcher Dr D Balachandran, left Mumbai in April and is now back at Bhandup pumping station, BNHS said in a tweet.

Bala the bird took just five days to return to Mumbai and this proves once again the birds’ typical habit of site fidelity, meaning returning to the same site that they are used to.

Migratory birds are undeclared Brand Ambassadors of environment and they convey the message of prevailing biodiversity in the areas that they land, said B N Kumar, director NatConnect Foundation. It is therefore important to conserve their destinations, namely the wetlands in Mumbai Metropolitan Region, Kumar who has been campaigning to save Belpada, Bhendkhal, Panje, DPS, NRI and TS Chanakya wetlands of Navi Mumbai which are being targeted by city planner CIDCO for real estate development.

The entire flight pattern of Bala the bird is being studied now and BNHS will come out with a full report shortly, said the organisation deputy director Dr Rahul Khot.

Dr Balachandran is a senior scientist with over four decades of study at various destinations such as Chilka in Odisha and Bharatpur in Rajasthan.

BNHS has deployed six GPS/GSM tags on three greater and three lesser flamingos from January to April 2022 To understand the flamingo migration. Three flamingos now returned to Gujarat.

'Humayun', a Lesser Flamingo (Phoenicopterus minor) equipped with GSM tag and leg band 'ALD' at Navi Mumbai on 19/04/2022, migrated back to Bhavnagar, Gujarat on 30 June 2022. Named after renowned ornithologist and one of the stalwarts of BNHS, Mr. Humayun Addulali,  the bird is located in wetlands along Nawa Bandar Road, which leads to Bhavnagar Port.

'Sálim' ('ASR' leg band), named after veteran ornithologist Dr Sálim Ali has reached wetlands near Ghogha town in Bhavnagar District of Gujarat. It took a non-stop flight from the wetland near Vashi on 6 July 2022 at 4.57 PM, flew over Dahanu and reached Ghogha Beach on 7 July 2022 at 9.25 AM. It took 16.28 hrs to cover this ~ 300km journey. 

'McCann', a juvenile greater flamingo named after Charles MaCann (1899-1980), former Assistant Curator of BNHS, an eminent naturalist and a prolific writer, left the shores of Mumbai on 14th July evening and landed near Ghogha in Gujarat on the morning of 15 July 2022. It took 15.45 hrs to cover the 300 km journey. It is the third GPS/GSM tagged bird reaching Gujrat from Mumbai.

‘Lester’, a subadult greater flamingo named after naturalist and ornithologist Captain C.D. Lester left the shores of Mumbai on 21 July evening and landed in LRK in Gujarat on the night of 22 July 2022. It took 25 hrs to cover ~500 km. Its flight path is similar to ‘Humayun.’ ‘Lester started its journey from Bhandup Pumping Station on 21 July 2022 at 21.29; it reached Narbad in Gujarat on 22 July 2022 at 06.30. it took an 11.33 hrs stopover near Narbad before flying to Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary at Little Rann of Kutch. Currently, the bird is located near Zinzuwada town. It is the fourth GPS/GSM tagged bird reaching Gujrat from Mumbai.

‘Khengarji III’ an adult greater flamingo named after His Highness Maharajadhiraj Mirza Maharao Sir Khengarji III Sawai Bahadur Rao of Cutch left the shores of Mumbai on 2 August night and landed in LRK in Gujarat on the evening of 2 August 2022. It took 22 hrs. to cover ~500 km. It is the fifth GPS/GSM-tagged bird reaching Gujrat from Mumbai and the second to reach LRK.

‘Navi Mumbai’ the sixth Juvenile Lesser Flamingo has shown the local movement in Thane Creek but the data so far received is inconclusive. “We feel it has reached the breeding ground and we will get the full picture once it returns to Thane Creek in the coming months,” Dr Khot said.

BNHS has been conducting the long-term ecological monitoring of migratory birds visiting Thane Creek since 2017. To understand wintering birds' habitat use and migration patterns, the researchers deployed bird rings and colour flags at sites around Thane Creek. So far, around 21000 birds have been ringed and flagged, and BNHS has been able to get resights within India and from other countries.