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Wednesday, October 3

South Kerala Pelagic bird survey records Red Necked Phalarope for the first time from Kerala

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The first ever South Kerala Pelagic survey has added a new member to the pelagic birds of the state by spotting  Red Necked Phalarope, a tiny wader found in open sea,  near Neeenkdakara harbor on September 30th. According to a report circulated by Kerala Birder, an online birdwatchers’ group who was instrumental in organizing the pelagic survey, a juvenile Red Necked Phalarope was spotted very close to the boat used by the team on the first day of the survey. It is the first record of the species from Kerala.
Red Necked Phalarope, South Kerala Pelagic bird survey
        Red Necked Phalarope found off the coast Neendakara
Image Courtesy: E Kunhikrishnan

However, the team suspects that the actual sighting could be three, since two pale waders seen on the same day could also belong to the same species. “Two more pale waders seen earlier on the day could have been this species”, said Kerala Birder sources. Red Necked Phalarope usually found in North America and Eurasia but migrates to tropical oceans for wintering.

Apart from the rare bird record, the survey team has also spotted two Brown or South-Polar Skua. According to the team, there have been four instances of reporting large skua from Indian coast earlier. Moreover, the birders assume that the Skua spotted during the survey are not vagrants, but regular visitors, since the sea was very calm at that time. “The two birds were present during calm seas, indicating these are not probably vagrants but regular in Arabian sea.” says the report prepared by the team.

Other sightings

During the survey, the team has also spotted Flesh-footed Shearwater, Streaked Shearwater, Arctic Skua, Swinhoe’s Storm-petrel, Wilson’s Storm-petrel, Bridled Terns, Sooty Terns and Masked Booby birds.  Streaked Shearwater spotting is just the second time from Kerala, the first being two months before in July during the West Coast Pelgaic sea bird survey conducted off the coast of Kannur.

The South Kerala Pelagic survey was carried out on 30th September and 1st of October by surveying pelagic bird population off the coast of Neendakara and Vizhinjam. Birders from Malabar Natural History Society (MNHS), Travancore Natural History Society (TNHS) also attended the survey. 

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