KOCHI: A team of ten bird watchers and photographers from South India went 15 nautical miles away from the shore along with nine fishermen from Mattanchery last week, recorded the number of sea birds and came back with interesting data. The most interesting sighting, according to Cochin Natural History Society (CNHS), which organised the survey along with Kerala Forest Department, was that of Jouanin’s Petrel (Bulweria fallax), which falls under the ‘near threatened’ category of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Mainly concentrated in western Arabian Sea and Red Sea, Jouanin’s Petrel, made it to the IUCN list of threatened species because it is suspected to have a ‘moderately small range’. Though this is the first record of the bird off Ernakulam coast, the avian had been spotted at Alappuzha and Kannur in July 2009 and September 2011, respectively. The latest sighting becomes one among the less than ten confirmed recordings of the bird in Indian territory so far, according to organisers.
Jouanin’s Petrel, which breeds on the islets around Arabian Peninsula, is usually sighted very far from the coast. The 2011 sighting off Kannur was recorded 80-90 km away from shore. Interesting fact about the latest spotting, however, is that the bird was recorded just six kilometres off Mattanchery, according to Vishnu Priyan, secretary of CNHS. Besides Jouanin’s Petrel, known in local parlance as ‘Valiya Kuzhalmookkan Thiravetti’, the survey team also sighted eight Flesh-footed shear water birds, four Swinhoe’s Storm Petrel and ten Arctic Skua. The most number of sea birds spotted during the survey were Wilson’s Storm Petrel (200) and Bridled Tern (100).
The report of the surveywill be uploaded on CNHS online data base as eBird, said Vishnu Priyan. Similar surveys will be conducted in Alappuzha and Kannur in October.