A LESSER FLAMINGO which was tagged in the Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary (TCFS) near Mumbai earlier this year flew to Bhavnagar via Vasai and Surat. The bird was tagged with a solar-powered GPS-GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications).
“Humayun”, the lesser flamingo tagged by the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) on April 19 in Navi Mumbai, is named after Humanyun Abdulali, a renowned ornithologist associated with the BNHS. It is one of six flamingos, three flamingos and three lesser flamingos marked by the BNHS.
Humayun took off from Trombay at 10:28 p.m. on June 28 and reached Vasai an hour later, stopping there for a few hours.
It took off from Vasai on June 29 and landed at Tena Creek near Surat that day after a 4:15 a.m. flight. After making a 16-hour stopover in Surat, the bird took off on June 30 from there and landed near the coast of Bhavnagar after a 2:29 hour flight across the Gulf of Khambhat, completing the trip from Mumbai to Bhavnagar in around 10 p.m., said scientists from BNHS, the Mumbai-based organization that is one of India’s oldest scientific organizations and works for nature conservation.
“After landing in Bhavnagar, Humayun remained localized in salt pans near the port of Bhavnagar,” said Rahul Khot, deputy director of the natural history collections division of the BNHS.
“The main objective of the flamingo tagging project is to understand the migration routes of flamingos from their breeding grounds in Gujarat to their feeding grounds along the west coast of India and to make suggestions for conservation based on the results,” he added.
Khot leads the BNHS team, made up of scientists Mrugank Prabhu and Sameer Bajaru, which studies the migration of flamingos using telemetry.
Apart from the GSM tag, Humayun is also code tagged with the ALD leg band and the project is supported by the Maharashtra Forest Department
S Balachandran, the well-known ornithologist who is deputy director of the research division of BNHS, says the project will help to understand the migration, ecology and habitat use of flamingos.
“There have been records of Iran banded flamingos recorded in Gujarat and those recorded in Gujarat seen on the east coast of India. For flamingos, Gujarat is their home, but they migrate in search of food “said Balachandran.
“There is also what is called leapfrog migration in which birds from the farthest northwest migrate to the farthest southeast of their range. For example, a flamingo had traveled from Chhari Dhand in Kutch to Andhra Pradesh,” he added.
Ornithologists have long believed that flamingos migrate from Gujarat to the southern and eastern coast of India as well as to Sri Lanka.
“The only known breeding site of greater and lesser flamingos in India is the Great Rann of Kutch in Gujarat. Hence, these flamingos return to their breeding grounds during the monsoon,” said Uday Vora, the retired IFS officer who is now the honorary secretary of the Bird Conservation Society of Gujarat (BSCG).
“The BNHS project as well as the ongoing Wildlife Institute of India (WII) project in collaboration with the Gujarat Forest Department has the potential to shed light on the patterns of migration and habitat use by these birds. “, he added.
Incidentally, the WII, the first research institute operating under the Union Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Climate Change, has also been studying flamingo migration since 2019 by tagging five lesser flamingos and four flamingos. roses. Professor R Suresh Kumar, senior scientist and professor at WII who has studied species migration and leads the study of flamingo migration, says he is not surprised the lesser flamingo stopped at Bhavnagar . “The flamingo breeding season begins with the setting of the southwest monsoon in Gujarat. During summer, you see a huge congregation of flamingos in the Thane stream as well as many wetlands in Gujarat. From July they start moving towards the Rann of Kutch and Bhavnagar Falls on their way,” Prof Kumar said, adding that lesser flamingo populations appear to be restricted to western India.
One of the WII-tagged lesser flamingos had taken the southward migration flight from Gujarat to Maharashtra and reached Bhavnagar when its transmitter began to malfunction, Prof Kumar says, and as a result scientists were unable to follow its entire migration route.
Prof Kumar says more studies are needed to establish the migration patterns of greater flamingos seen at Chilika Late on the Odisha coast, Pulicat Lake in Andhra Pradesh and Point Calimere in Tamil Nadu. “Of the four flamingos we tagged, one flew to Miani Hor, about 90 km west of Pakistan in 2019, stayed there for a day and flew back to Kutch. flew to Ajmer in Rajasthan. The rest remained confined to Gujarat. The migration of greater flamingos on the east coast is not yet fully understood and further study is needed by tagging more birds,” said Prof. Kumar, adding “It seems that the greater flamingos of the east coast reside in this region and migrate to Sri Lanka too and it is possible that they breed in Sri Lanka, but no one has located their breeding site there- low so far.
Balachandran also agrees that flamingos could be breeding in parts of Sri Lanka that have remained inaccessible due to civil war and where landmines have been laid.
One of two WII-tagged greater flamingos at Thol Wildlife Sanctuary near Ahmedabad in May remained in Thol while the other returned to Thol after visiting Navagam in neighboring Kheda district for a short duration. Professor Kumar believes that there are two types of flamingo populations in Gujarat, breeding resident migrants and non-breeding international migrants. “There are records of greater flamingos coming to Gujarat from Kazakhstan during the non-breeding season here. So it is possible that we have a resident population of flamingos that breed in Gujarat and migrate occasionally and a international migratory population that breeds in Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, etc. but visits India,” he said.
Incidentally, a breeding of flamingos was recorded in Bhavnagar in 2018.