Knot ‘6Z’: From Russia with love | Ahmedabad News

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AHMEDABAD: Bird watchers in Gujarat had reason to rejoice when, for the third year in a row, a large knot (Calidris tenuirostris), a shorebird tagged in Russia and codenamed “6Z”, returned to the coastal village of Balachadi in the district of Jamnagar.
The re-sightings of the shorebird during three consecutive migratory seasons can be a strong sign that Balachadi is a privileged wintering place for these birds. Many experts are now hoping that Gujarat and India’s long coastline will provide a safe haven for wading birds amid habitat loss in China and Africa.

“The Great Node uses both the Central Asian Flyway (CAF) and the East Asian and Australian Flyway (EAAF) for migration. Due to depletion of the mudflats in parts of China there is a hypothesis that an increasing number of shorebirds could use CAF on EAAF, ”said Dishant Parasharya, an ornithologist working with the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS). provide critical habitat for shorebirds to roost and feed in. Parasharya said much research needs to be done on both flyways before a solid conclusion can be reached.
The CAF covers a large continental area of ​​Eurasia between the Arctic Ocean and the Indian Ocean and associated island chains. EAAF is the name given to the route taken each year by migrating shorebirds from Australia to and from their breeding grounds above the Arctic Circle in Alaska and Siberia, and it extends from Russia arctic and from North America to New Zealand.
The re-sighting of 6Z during three successive migratory seasons removes any doubt that Balachadi is only a stopover site for this bird. An iconic bird among wading birds, the Great Knot is a species of special concern among shorebirds. The species’ status of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has been revised from “Least Concern” in 2014 to “Endangered” in 2019. It has been identified among the 20 priority species for conservation in the Central Asian Flyway for India according to National Action Plan (2018).
Tagged in Kamchatka
The large-scale loss and degradation of important roosting habitats during their migratory journey, particularly in the Yellow Sea of ​​China, is widely believed to be responsible for the decline in the general population of shorebirds. migratory birds and in particular large knots, explains Yashodhan Bhatia, an avid bird watcher. who spotted the “6Z” and who, along with Ashish Pankhania, had visited the intertidal area of ​​the Balachadi coast on October 6, 2019 when they first spotted the bird.
The duo photographed and observed herds of wading birds where they spotted around 20 large knots in a mixed herd that also had bar-tailed godwits. They were surprised to find a leg band on one of the large knots. “Upon further observing and after a few more clicks, we noticed that there were two paw flags on the tibia of the bird’s left paw. A black flag without a number was placed over a yellow stripe on which was engraved ‘6Z’ in black. A metal ring on the right leg was also visible, ”says Bhatia.
Using a shorebird tagging protocol table, they concluded that it could be a tagged bird in Russia. With the help of the BNHS, the duo sent photographs to researchers working in Russia and East Asia. They received a message from a certain Dmitry Dorofeev that this individual had been marked by him in Kamchatka, in the far east of Russia, on July 17, 2019.
Threat to the habitat of the nearby shipbreaking yard?
The frequent occurrence of globally threatened species on the west coast of the country obviously proves the importance of suitable habitat conditions for the species here.
Bhatia says that in the past the Great Knot has been documented in detail in southern India along with its population, status, and other data. However, from the west coast, reports have increased dramatically over the past decade.
Last year another large knot, with a green-on-orange stripe on its right shin, was seen on Akshi Beach near Mumbai. He was most likely tagged in August 2020 in Yalujiang, China.
“There are sporadic reports that show the bird is moving more and more westward rather than along its previous southerly path. There has been a report of a large knot marked in Russia having was sighted in the United Arab Emirates last year, “said Bhatia, who plans to release a research paper on 6Z.
The Balachadi site which is home to shorebirds such as bar-tailed godwits, red knot, gray plovers, crabeater plovers, Eurasian curlews, crows curlews, terek sandpipers, smaller and larger sand plovers, and is part of the Marine National Park and the sanctuary faces a potential threat from a shipbreaking yard near Sachana. The Gujarat government last year gave the green light to restart construction after issues over environmental permits were resolved, sources said.
“The work in the yard has been slow due to the pandemic. In addition, the number of plots and their sizes are very small compared to the Alang shipbreaking yard near Bhavnagar, on which it is modeled,” government sources said.
Parasharya of BNHS said there was a need to study the long-term impact of the shipbreaking yard on the bird population in Balachadi.

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