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DARTER – Vol.1 – Issue 2 (Apr-Jun 2017)

EDITOR’S NOTE 

“It was truly a great welcome given to the first issue of DARTER, the quarterly e-newsletter/blog on Salem birds by various scientists, senior birders and by all nature enthusiasts. We thank everyone for their continued support and guidance. Though most of the migrants were back to their breeding grounds, the enthusiasm of birders to go out for birding even in summer hasn’t faded and all those efforts have given rise to some wonderful records. This is also the first time we have started to keep track of few migratory species which have stayed back. Sightings and records which are entered in eBird are only taken into account towards the writing of this blog.” –Ganeshwar SV

SECOND RECORD (1)

After the first record of BROWN FISH OWL Ketupa zeylonensis in 1929, the bird was once again seen in Salem by Gokul Vadivel and Dr. Thanigai Velu at Kapputhi on April 14, 2017. This is the first photographic record within the district limits. The complete checklist can be seen here.

1 BFO

Photograph of BROWN FISH OWL by Gokul Vadivel

CONGREGATION OF PAINTED STORKS and other water birds

V. Kalai Selvan recorded a congregation of 250 or more PAINTED STORKS Mycteria leucocephala and other water birds such as Woolly-necked Stork Ciconia episcopus, Spot-billed Pelican Pelecanus philippensis, Sandpipers and a few more. The complete checklist can be seen here. The news was published in four Tamil news dailies: in Dhinamani and Kaalaikadhir on April 25, 2017 and in Dhinagaran and Dhinamalar on April 26, 2017.

PAST flight

Photograph of PAINTED STORKS and few other Ardeidae sp. by V. Kalai Selvan

NEW RECORD (1)

Gokul Vadivel recorded RUFOUS-TAILED LARK Ammonmanes phoenicura for the first time in Salem at Vadamaneri Lake on May 1, 2017. The complete checklist can be seen here.

ENDEMIC BIRD DAY & NEW RECORD (2)

The third edition of the Endemic Bird Day was held in Salem on May 13, 2017. In total, 106 species were recorded including endemic species. Birders Gokul Vadivel, Murugesh Nateshan, S. Dr. Thanigai Velu, N. Rameshkumar, P. Karthikeyan, T. Arulvelan and Ganeshwar SV covered Pudhu Eri, Kannankurichi Lake and ten different areas in the Shevaroy hills. At Kapputhi, the team recorded FORK-TAILED DRONGO CUCKOO Surniculus dicruroides which is the first record for the district.

In Attur taluk, the count was carried out by P. Rajangam and his students while the count in Omalur taluk was done by S. Subramania Siva.

INDIAN EAGLE OWL in NEWSPAPERS 

Though the INDIAN EAGLE OWL Bubo bengalensis is widespread, V. Kalai Selvan took this opportunity to clear some misconceptions about Owls and the sighting was published in four Tamil news dailies: Kaalaikadhir, Dhinamani, Dhinagaran and Dinamalar on May 19, 2017.

SECOND RECORD (2)

After the first record of GREATER FLAMINGO Phoenicopterus roseus in 2014, once again a single bird was recorded by S. Subramania Siva at Pannavadi near Mettur taluk on May 23, 2017. The complete checklist can be seen here.

BAYA WEAVER COUNT

Every year Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) organizes pan-India Baya Weaver Count. This year the count was held from 4th to 10th of June. In Attur taluk, P. Rajangam and his students visited three locations (Thalavaipatty Lake, Ottapatty and Ariyapalayam) and counted a total of 148 BAYA WEAVERS Ploceus philippinus comprising 59 males and 89 females. They also recorded 42 completed nests and 105 incomplete nests.

2 BAWE

Pendulous nests of BAYA WEAVER on Palm Tree Photograph by P. Rajangam

NEW RECORD (3)

Gokul Vadivel recorded WHITE-NAPED TIT Machlolophus nuchalis for the first time in Salem on June 17, 2017. This is one of the surprising and fascinating records for the district. The complete checklist can be seen here.

3 WWT

Photograph of WHITE-NAPED TIT by Gokul Vadivel

OTHER NOTABLE SIGHTINGS

Murugesh Natesan and Dr. Thanigai Velu recorded RUFOUS-BELLIED EAGLE Lophotriorchis kinerii at Kapputhi on June 6, 2017.  The complete checklist can be seen here.

Murugesh Natesan recorded a pair of PAINTED SPURFOWL Galloperdix lunulata with three chicks on June 18, 2017 at Vadapatty. The complete checklist can be seen here.

4 PASP

Photograph of PAINTED SPURFOWL male by Murugesh Natesan

MIGRANTS and INLAND MIGRANTS

Some of the migrants and inland migrants which were recorded in summer are as follows. Clicking the date will lead to that checklist.

S.No.

COMMON NAME OBSERVER LAST SEEN – 2017

1

Chestnut-tailed Starling Elavarasan M 1 April

2

Rosy Starling Murugesh Natesan 3 April

3

Garganey Murugesh Natesan

3 April

4 Blue-capped Rock Thrush Murugesh Natesan

5 April

5 Sykes’s Warbler Murugesh Natesan

5 April

6 Rusty-tailed Flycatcher Dr. Thanigai Velu

6 April

7

Baillon’s Crake Elavarasan M 14 April

8

Clamorous Reed-Warbler Elavarasan M 14 April
9 Brown-headed Gull Kalai Selvan

16 April

10 Grey Wagtail Elavarasan M

18 April

11

Booted Warbler Dr. Thanigai Velu 26 April
12 Brown Shrike Murugesh Natesan

27 April

13

Ashy Drongo Murugesh Natesan 28 April
14 Indian Pitta Murugesh Natesan

29 April

15

Green Warbler Dr. Thanigai Velu 30 April
16 Eurasian Kestrel Gokul Vadivel

30 April

17

Blyth’s Reed Warbler Murugesh Natesan 1 May
18 Green Sandpiper Gokul Vadivel

1 May

19

Greenish Warbler Ganeshwar SV 13 May
20 Common Sandpiper Gokul Vadivel

15 May

21

Wood Sandpiper Anunita KP 18 May
22 Barn Swallow Murugesh Natesan

23 May

23

Whiskered Tern Subramania Siva 23 May
24 Greater Flamingo Subramania Siva

23 May

25

Western Yellow Wagtail Subramania Siva

30 May

5 b BHGU

Photograph of BROWN-HEADED GULLS by V. Kalai Selvan

OUTREACH

On June 15, 2017, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan district level training workshop was conducted for Block Resource Teachers and Coordinators (BRTs and BRCs) at AVS Engineering College, near Sakthi Kailaash Women’s College. Ganeshwar SV addressed 117 BRTs and BRCs in the program. Additionally 8 other birders covered 15 districts to address a total of 1951 teachers in similar workshops.

6 Outreach June

Ganeshwar SV addressing teachers in the SSA Workshop * Photograph by Tamil Selvan A

STUDENTS’ CORNER

“One day I went to a science festival. I attended many sessions. In that one session is bird watching. That session inspired me very much. On that day onwards I love birds and also I wished to learn more information about different kinds of birds. Because of this interest, I spent my summer vocation by watching birds and doing birds pictures using quilling paper art. This makes me happy and satisfied. It’s our duty to save nature and birds.”—S. Subramania Siva, 9th standard

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One of the many art works by S. Subramania Siva

WEEKLY BIRDING PLAN

P. Rajangam, a teacher in Panchayat Union Middle School, Thalavaipatty in Attur taluk has planned to take his students every Friday for half an hour birding after school time.

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Endemic Birds in Salem

Endemic birds are those whose distribution is restricted to a defined area. In total, there are 66 South Asian endemic bird species in Salem including the 14 Indian endemics. As birders explore more, many species might get added to this list. Clicking the scientific name of a species will lead to eBird distribution map of that particular bird.

Every year ENDEMIC BIRD DAY is celebrated in India to document the resident and endemic bird species. It falls on the same date as the Global Big Day. Here’s the complete list of species endemic (or near-endemic) to South Asia taken from Bird Count India.

Further Information

WCB Arun

WHITE-CHEEKED BARBET (Psilopogon viridis), one of the common endemic birds in Salem. Photograph by J. Arun Prakash (Arun Jap)

 

Birds endemic to India that are found in Salem

S.No.

COMMON NAME

SCIENTIFIC NAME

1

Red Spurfowl

Galloperdix spadicea

2

Painted Spurfowl

Galloperdix lunulata

3

Grey Junglefowl

Gallus sonneratii

4

Nilgiri Wood Pigeon

Columba elphinstonii

5

Mottled Wood Owl

Strix ocellata

6

White-cheeked Barbet

Psilopogon viridis

7

White-spotted Fantail (Spot-breasted Fantail)

Rhipidura albogularis

8

Yellow-throated Bulbul

Pycnonotus xantholaemus

9

Indian Scimitar Babbler

Pomatorhinus horsfieldii

10

Large Grey Babbler

Turdoides malcolmi

11

Rufous Babbler

Turdoides subrufa

12

Nilgiri Flycatcher

Eumyias albicaudatus

13

Malabar Whistling Thrush

Myophonus horsfieldii

14

Nilgiri Flowerpecker

Dicaeum concolor

 

Other South Asian endemic birds found in Salem

S.No.

COMMON NAME

SCIENTIFIC NAME

15

Grey Francolin

Francolinus pondicerianus

16

Jungle Bush Quail

Perdicula asiatica

17

Indian Peafowl

Pavo cristatus

18

Crested Hawk Eagle

Nisaetus cirrhatus

19

Indian Spotted Eagle

Clanga hastata

20

Yellow-wattled Lapwing

Vanellus malabaricus

21

Common Hawk-Cuckoo

Hierococcyx varius

22

Grey-bellied Cuckoo

Cacomantis passerinus

23

Blue-faced Malkoha

Phaenicophaeus viridirostris

24

Sirkeer Malkoha

Phaenicophaeus leschenaultii

25

Indian Scops Owl

Otus bakkamoena

26

Rock Eagle Owl (Indian Eagle Owl)

Bubo bengalensis

27

Jungle Owlet

Glaucidium radiatum

28

Malabar Trogon

Harpactes fasciatus

29

Brown-headed Barbet

Psilopogon zeylanicus

30

Brown-capped Pygmy Woodpecker

Dendrocopos nanus

31

Black-rumped Flameback (Lesser Golden-backed Woodpecker)

Dinopium benghalense

32

White-naped Woodpecker

Chrysocolaptes festivus

33

Plum-headed Parakeet

Psittacula cyanocephala

34

Indian Pitta

Pitta brachyura

35

White-tailed Iora (Marshall’s Iora)

Aegithina nigrolutea

36

Orange Minivet

Pericrocotus flammeus

37

Black-headed Cuckooshrike

Lalage melanoptera

38

White-bellied Drongo

Dicrurus caerulescens

39

Jerdon’s Bushlark

Mirafra affinis

40

Indian Bushlark (Red-winged Bushlark)

Mirafra erythroptera

41

Ashy-crowned Sparrow Lark

Eremopterix griseus

42

Rufous-tailed Lark

Ammomanes phoenicura

43

Streak-throated Swallow

Petrochelidon fluvicola

44

Indian Nuthatch

Sitta castanea

45

White-browed Bulbul

Pycnonotus luteolus

46

Yellow-browed Bulbul

Iole indica

47

Square-tailed Bulbul

Hypsipetes ganeesa

48

Western Crowned Leaf Warbler

Phylloscopus occipitalis

49

Jungle Prinia

Prinia sylvatica

50

Ashy Prinia

Prinia socialis

51

Tawny-bellied Babbler

Dumetia hyperythra

52

Jungle Babbler

Turdoides striata

53

Yellow-billed Babbler

Turdoides affinis

54

Rusty-tailed Flycatcher

Muscicapa ruficauda

55

Indian Robin

Copsychus fulicatus

56

Blue-capped Rock Thrush

Monticola cinclorhynchus

57

Pied Thrush

Geokichla wardii

58

Indian Blackbird

Turdus simillimus

59

Brahminy Starling

Temenuchus pagodarum

60

Jerdon’s Leafbird

Chloropsis jerdoni

61

Pale-billed Flowerpecker

Dicaeum erythrorhynchos

62

Purple-rumped Sunbird

Leptocoma zeylonica

63

Long-billed Sunbird (Loten’s Sunbird)

Cinnyris lotenius

64

White-browed Wagtail

Motacilla madaraspatensis

65

Black-throated Munia

Lonchura kelaarti

66

Triclored Munia

Lonchura malacca

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DARTER – Vol.1 – Issue 1 (Jan-Mar 2017)

Editor’s Note

Despite the rich and marvellous bird life of Salem, it was quite surprising to see the lack of birders in recent times. Unless we know what is around us and their importance, we may never make an effort to conserve it. Awareness about our local wildlife treasures is the first and crucial step which is very essential everywhere. So I have always wanted to publicize the glory of Salem birds on a regular basis. The meticulous record keeping by Mysore birders gave me the supplementary push to do it. On the birth anniversary of the legend Wangari Maathai, I’m delighted to bring out this first issue of DARTER, the quarterly e-newsletter/blog on birds and birding activities in Salem, Tamil Nadu, India. This is the first region specific news blog in Tamil Nadu dedicated to birds which will cover all the new records, interesting observations, articles, outreach programs, etc., happening in the district. We invite everyone especially school children to write their experiences, drawings or any work related to birds and photographers to submit their bird photographs taken only in Salem. The photograph should have been embedded in an eBird checklist which is mandatory.

Our team believes that the activities done in Salem will inspire many people and DARTER is one of the media to reach them. The first three months of birding activities in Salem has surpassed my expectations. Four years back, birding was almost zero in my hometown. Now we have people who are really dedicated to their daily birding. It doesn’t matter if the changes and progress are slow but should be sustainable in the long term even if there is no one to lead. That is the real success. It is possible only through team work and the prospects of what we can achieve as a team is much greater and it has done wonders. We hope to carry the same spirit and momentum not only for the welfare of birds but also to leave a better place for the next generation.

Why was DARTER chosen?

By not choosing any generalized name of a common bird which is already known to people (like Eagle, Woodpecker), I thought to use this opportunity to introduce a new name to people. I wanted to select a bird which is bigger in size, charismatic, fairly common, easily identifiable, threatened (or near-threatened) and the one which has good distribution in many parts of the district. After analyzing all the species recorded in Salem, the ORIENTAL DARTER Anhinga melanogaster fits perfectly in the above criteria. It may sound simple but it was quite a task. On a lighter note, the shape of the neck resembles ‘S’ and I took it like S for Salem. It is also one of my favourite birds.Ganeshwar SV

1 Darter by Samyak Kaninde

Representational image–ORIENTAL DARTER Photograph by Samyak Kaninde

NEW RECORD (1)

Elavarasan M recorded STORK-BILLED KINGFISHER Pelargopsis capensis for the first time in Salem on January 8, 2017 at Kannankurichi (Mookaneri) Lake. It was certainly a surprise record from the middle of the city. The complete checklist can be seen here. 

2 SBKF by Elavarasan

STORK-BILLED KINGFISHER by Elavarasan M

3RD PONGAL BIRD COUNT & A NEW BIRDING GROUP

The third edition of the Pongal Bird Count (15—18 January) saw enthusiastic participation by many people. On the first day, a new birding group, UNITED SALEM FOR BIRD LIFE (USBL) was initiated by Tamil Nadu Science Forum for bird monitoring and to have a common platform for all birders in the district. During the bird walk at Kannankurichi (Mookaneri) Lake, three teams were split and they were led by Ganeshwar SV, Jagadeesan Krishnan and Murugesh Nateshan. Eurasian Kestrel Falco tinnunculus was recorded for the first time at the lake and a total of 149 species were recorded over the four days. The report was published in The Hindu and a Tamil daily–Dinakaran. We thank SP Saravanan and Gandhi for their support.

(Note: The news was published on January 17th; hence it carries only 125 species)

4 PBC news

In THE HINDU on January 17, 2017

NEW RECORD (2)

On 26th January (Republic Day), Aravind Amirtharaj, Elavarasan M, Ganeshwar SV, Gokul Vadivel, Jagadeesan Krishnan and Murugesh Nateshan recorded the elusive HAIR-CRESTED DRONGO Dicrurus hottentottus, for the first time in Salem. Four individuals were seen on Erythrina indica tree in Yercaud Ghat Road. Initially overlooked as Bronzed Drongo Dicrurus aeneus, the team was however doubtful because of lower elevation and dry habitat. After careful observation, they got the correct identification. The complete checklist can be seen here.

5 HCD by Aravind Amirtharaj - Copy

HAIR-CRESTED DRONGO seen between 40 feet to 60 feet bridge in Yercaud Ghat Road. Photograph by Aravind Amirtharaj

Later that evening, 55 species were recorded including the Ruddy-breasted Crake Zapornia fusca and Baillon’s Crake Zapornia pusilla at Kannankurichi (Mookaneri) Lake. The complete checklist can be seen here. On that particular day, a total of 112 species were recorded.

GBBC OUTREACH (1) at THULIR* SCIENCE FESTIVAL

Tamil Nadu Science Forum (TNSF) organized a two day Thulir Science Festival on January 28 and 29, 2017 at Universal Matriculation School. Various corner activities were conducted and Birding was one among them. Ganeshwar SV along with Tamizh, Gauthami, Subash, Venkat and Umaprabha gave talks in 8 different sessions and students were taken for a bird walk on the second day morning. The program focused on Great Backyard Bird Count and Campus Bird Count. More than 500 students participated in the event.

(* Thulir is a monthly science magazine in Tamil for children published by TNSF)

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Ganeshwar SV with school children during the bird walk. Photograph by Guhan

ADDITIONAL RECORDS FOR VAZHAPPADI TALUK

Though they were recorded in Salem taluk previously, for the first time in Vazhappadi, Kalai Selvan recorded Black-naped Oriole Oriolus chinensis and Mottled Wood Owl Strix ocellata. The sightings were published in detail in three Tamil news dailies—Dinakaran, Dinamani and The Hindu.

8 Kalai Selvan news

The title in English: Rare BLACK-NAPED ORIOLE and MOTTLED WOOD OWL recorded at Vazhappadi

GBBC OUTREACH (2, 3)

Two outreach programs for Campus Bird Count (a sub-event of GBBC) were conducted by Murugesh Nateshan on 14th and 16th of February at Panchayat Union Middle Schools in Krishnampudur and Thalavaipatti.

Murugesh Outreach

Murugesh Nateshan interacting with students at Thalavaipatti

NEW RECORD (3)

Ganeshwar SV recorded ALPINE SWIFT Apus melba for the first time on February 16, 2017 at Kannankurichi (Mookaneri) Lake. The complete checklist can be seen here.

5TH GREAT BACKYARD BIRD COUNT—INDIA & A NEW RECORD (4)

Salem birders surpassed and created many new records in this year’s GBBC. Pin-tailed Snipe Gallinago stenura was recorded for the first time at Kannankurichi (Mookaneri) Lake. Three of our birders featured in the World’s Top 10 rankings for checklists. Krishnampudur School students stood at World No. 35 in terms of checklists submitted (65). Team USBL congratulates all the participants of GBBC. We extend our thanks to Rajangam P (teacher at Thalavaipatti School) and Senthil Kumar (Head Master of Krishnampudur School) for engaging their students in Campus Bird Count. We thank SP Saravanan of The Hindu for his support.

10 GBBC news

In THE HINDU on February 23, 2017

OUTREACH (4) FOR SCHOOL TEACHERS

On February 21, 2017 British Council training for English language was conducted at Government Boys High School, Magudanchavadi. Ganeshwar SV addressed school teachers from 25 Government schools from different parts of the district.

12 Ganeshwar teacher talk

Ganeshwar SV addressing school teachers. Photograph by Kiruthikaivasan Rajan

OUTREACH (5) & 1ST GREAT SPARROW COUNT

The first Great Sparrow Count was conducted from 18 to 20th March by United Salem for Bird Life. On the first day, Ganeshwar SV gave a talk on the importance of House Sparrows Passer domesticus at Panchayat Union Middle School, Thalavaipatti. It is not possible to say the increase or decrease in sparrow population with a random survey like this by few people. Hence more public participation is very essential. By doing this count every year, it will give us a better overview of the distribution and population status of sparrows in Salem. We thank SP Saravanan of The Hindu for his support.

13 Great Sparrow Count

In THE HINDU on March 22, 2017

STUDENTS’ CORNER

Taking inspiration from the outreach program done by Murugesh Nateshan, an 8th standard student Dhanalakshmi of Panchayat Union Middle School, Thalavaipatti has started birding daily and her dedication is evident from the notes which she’s writing with illustrations.

Art

Illustrations and records by DHANALAKSHMI, 8th standard