In a first, GPS-tagged bird arriving all the way from Reunion spotted in Chhattisgarh

Ornithologists said the whimbrel arrived in Chhattisgarh for a stopover owing to the presence of wetlands in Bemetara district, about 70 km from the state capital Raipur.
The GPS-tagged whimbrel (Photo | Special arrangement)
The GPS-tagged whimbrel (Photo | Special arrangement)

RAIPUR: In a first, a migratory bird -- the Eurasian or common whimbrel -- tagged with a Global Positioning System (GPS) transmitter was captured on camera in Chhattisgarh.

Ornithologists said the bird arrived in Chhattisgarh for a stopover owing to the presence of wetlands in the Berla area of Bemetara district, about 70 km from the state capital Raipur.

The whimbrel was photographed by bird watchers Dr Himanshu Gupta, Jageshwar Verma and Avinash Bhoi in Berla.

Many organisations and countries use geo-tagging and colour tags to study bird migration patterns and behaviour, ornithologists who keep track of winged visitors told The New Indian Express.

They were jubilant to spot the whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus), also known as the white-rumped whimbrel in North America, tagged with a GPS transmitter.

“An incredible sighting in Chhattisgarh and the first time in the country when a long distance migratory bird fitted with a GPS transmitter in the far-flung Reunion island was seen after it was tagged by Professor Mathieu Lecorre of the University de La Reunion,” said Bhoi. Reunion is an island of France in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar.

“Long distance migratory birds arrive in Chhattisgarh through the Central India route via Pakistan. Chhattisgarh has wetlands playing a significant role to serve as the stopover to these birds. It is the first time in India such a GPS-tagged bird is being spotted and photographed. There is a greater need to restore such aquatic biodiversity and wetlands that are facing loss of vegetation and encroachment,” said ornithologist Ravi Naidu from the Bombay National History Society.

The bird named 'Merlene' by Professor Lecorre was fitted with a GPS tag in Reunion island on March 7 this year. “It flew to Mauritius from Reunion on March 22, travelled northwards over the Indian Ocean during the second week of April and arrived in Pakistan on May 4, stayed at the Indus Delta for 10 days, before flying eastward and reached Bemetara via Balaghat in MP,” said Bhoi.

Whimbrels are mainly greyish brown with a white back and rump. Their breeding grounds are in northern Asia including Siberia.

Different countries use different colour tags for bird ringing to track and study bird populations.

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