2Red-necked phalaropes, a bird rarely sighted, spot­ted in Uran af­ter 15 years

The Times of India (Mumbai edition) - - TIMES CITY - Vi­jay.Singh@ times­group.com

Navi Mumbai: Two rare wet­land birds of the Red-necked phalarope species were spot­ted along the Panje coast in Uran on Fri­day af­ter a long gap of nearly 15 years. Nat­u­ral­ist and doc­u­men­tary film­maker Aish­warya Srid­har man­aged to take pho­to­graphs of the two waders (in pic­ture) along the shore, much to the de­light of the bird­watch­ers com­mu­nity.

“The very fact that such a rare wader like the Red-necked phalarope is be­ing seen in Panje af­ter so many years, once again strength­ens the case to pro­tect the last sur­viv­ing wet­lands of Uran since so many birds come here, in­clud­ing flamin­gos,” said Srid­har who has been film­ing and doc­u­ment­ing the Uran wet­lands for nearly a decade now.

She said that cur­rently there are two such waders at Panje. This species breeds in Eura­sia and trav­els all the way to Sri Lanka and New Zealand to spend its win­ters.

En­vi­ron­men­tal­ist D Stalin said, “It is in­deed good news that the rare Red-necked phalaropes are now be­ing seen at Panje. “This only goes to show that the wet­lands here have a very rich bio­di­ver­sity and there­fore need to be pre­served.”

Srid­har said that there is an ur­gent need to pro­tect and pre­serve the last sur­viv­ing wet­lands along the Panje-Funde coast where sev­eral hun­dreds of birds like flam­ing- os, waders, ducks and oth­ers flock ev­ery year.

“Nearly 85% of Uran’s wet­lands have al­ready been de­stroyed due to man-made land­fill­ing. So, if this wet­land patch also van­ishes, there will be no more birds fly­ing into this re­gion,” said Srid­har.

The red-necked phalarope is mi­gra­tory and, un­usu­ally for a wader, it swims in the sea. They de­velop a red neck dur­ing breed­ing sea­son oth­er­wise the young birds are grey and brown above, with buff un­der­parts and a black patch through the eye. In win­ter, the plumage is grey above and white be­low.

En­vi­ron­men­tal­ist Debi Goenka said, “A birds sur­vey re­port of Bom­bay Nat­u­ral History So­ci­ety has clearly men­tioned that the wet­lands at Panje must be saved so that the birds do not go to­wards the pro­posed site for the Navi Mumbai air­port, thereby caus­ing ac­ci­dents when planes take off or land. The state gov­ern­ment should ide­ally de­clare the stretch as a wet­land sanc­tu­ary, be­fore it is too late.”

A SUR­PRISE VISIT: Un­usual for a wader, the mi­gra­tory bird swims in the sea

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