In a first, demoiselle crane spotted in Bengal – Times of India

Kolkata News

Jalpaiguri/Kolkata: A demoiselle crane — found in central Euro-Siberia, ranging from the Black Sea to Mongolia and North Eastern China — has been spotted for the first time in Bengal — on Teesta riverbed in Jalpaiguri town.
Though lockdown and the resultant lower pollution levels can be contributing factors, birders say it can also be a result of other migration-related factors such as wrong route — when birds make mistake in terms of direction. They also say the lockdown has given people more time to observe what’s happening on the field, and hence such findings.
Sujan Chatterjee, secretary of Birdwatchers’ Society, said the bird might have landed here following a wrong route. “Birds from western Eurasia will spend the winter in Africa while the birds from Asia, Mongolia and China will spend the winter in the Indian subcontinent. These cranes have to take one of the toughest migrations in the world. In late August through September, they gather in flocks of up to 400 individuals and prepare for their flight to their winter range. They reach altitudes of 16,000-26,000 feet (4,900-7,900 metres) along with their arduous journey over the Himalayas to get to their over-wintering grounds in India — mainly Rajasthan and Gujarat,” said Chatterjee.
In March and April, they begin their long spring journey back to their northern nesting grounds.
Animesh Bose of Himalayan Nature and Adventure Foundation said climatic conditions at their native place also impact their migration. “Such long-distance migratory birds often take rest during the course of their journey. We might not get to see it a few days later. Take the example of common shelduck. They arrive in winter, but are often not found during the annual waterbird census. And then again they can be seen in March, during the course of their return journey. As of now, I won’t link the crane’s arrival directly to lockdown. But, during lockdown, people are getting much more time to observe, photograph birds and this sighting can be linked to this phenomenon,” he added.
Bose, though, is not ruling out the lockdown factor as far as migration of birds is considered this year. According to him, some birds like ruddy shelduck and brown shrike have started arriving early this winter. “Brown shrikes can usually be seen from mid-August. But this year, we are getting reports that they have started arriving from early August,” he added.
Chatterjee said in Khichan, Rajasthan, villagers feed the cranes on their migration and these large congregations have become an annual spectacle. “They are known as the ‘koonj’ in the languages of north India and figure prominently in the literature, poetry and idiom of the region. Beautiful women are often compared to the ‘koonj’ because its long and thin shape is considered graceful. Metaphorical references are also often made to the ‘koonj’ for people who have ventured far from home or undertaken hazardous journeys,” he added.
Refusing to divulge the exact location of the sighting, a senior forester said they were keeping a close watch on the area where it’s being sighted.