Chhattisgarh gets a rare sighting of GPS-tagged long-distance migratory bird ‘whimbrel’

The whimbrel was photographed by bird watchers Himanshu Gupta, Jageshwar Verma and Avinash Bhoi in Berla.
Chhattisgarh gets a rare sighting of GPS-tagged long-distance migratory bird ‘whimbrel’

RAIPUR: First the time, a long-distance migratory bird, the Eurasian or common whimbrel, tagged with a Global Positioning System (GPS) transmitter was captured on camera in the state of Chhattisgarh. The bird, after a three-day stay in the state, has now travelled to Odisha.

Ornithologists and state forest officials observed that the migratory bird was flying mammoth distances and stopped over in Chhattisgarh, owing to the presence of wetlands in the Berla area of Bemetara district, about 70 km from Raipur.

The whimbrel was photographed by bird watchers 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, the ornithologists who closely keep track of the winged visitors told this newspaper.

Ornithologists were jubilant to watch the migratory bird, whose scientific name is Numenius phaeopus, and is also known as the white-rumped whimbrel in North America.

“An incredible sighting in Chhattisgarh and the first time in the country when a whimbrel, fitted with a GPS transmitter in the far-flung La Reunion Island, was seen. It was tagged by Professor Mathieu Lecorre of the University de La Reunion,” said Avinash Bhoi, an ornithologist.

“The long-distance migratory birds arrived in Chhattisgarh through Central India via Pakistan flyway. Chhattisgarh has wetlands playing a significant role to serve as the stopover to these birds, which come down to feed themselves and take rest. It is the first time in India such a GPS-tagged bird is being spotted and photographed. There is greater need to restore such aquatic biodiversity habitat and wetlands facing loss of vegetation and encroachment,” said ornithologist Ravi Naidu from Bombay National History Society.

Named Marlene, bird was fitted with GPS in March

According to ornithologist Ravi Naidu of Bombay National History Society, the Eurasian whimbrel was named ‘Merlene’ by Professor Mathieu Lecorre of the University de La Reunion. The bird was recaptured and fitted with a GPS tag on March 7 this year, he said.

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