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Saturday, October 27, 2018

Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary



Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary is now known as Keoladeo National Park. The 29 square km park’s woods and man-made wetlands protect over 350 species of migratory and resident birds, including herons, cormorants and eagles.  It is also a World Heritage Site.

During the month of October, when this video was made, the resident birds are breeding. November onwards, the migratory birds start arriving.

As the park lies on the Central Asian Flyway of the Asia Pacific Global Migratory
Flyway, it is a staging / wintering ground for a large number of migratory waterfowls. The rare Siberian cranes used to winter in this park but this central population is now extinct. The last Siberian Crane was seen here in 2002.

The sanctuary was created 250 years ago and is named after a Keoladeo (Shiva) temple within its boundaries. The park was a hunting ground for the Maharajas of Bharatpur, a tradition dating back to 1850, and duck shoots were organised yearly in honour of the British viceroys.

Video  Susan Sharma
Music   Chris_Zabriskie_-_03_-_Theres_Probably_No_Time

Watch this film at https://youtu.be/wsarA-A6uFU

https://youtu.be/wsarA-A6uFU













Saturday, October 13, 2018

Sarahan-a sanctuary for mountain birds


Mountain pheasants are seen in the Himalayan region.  In India they occur in Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and J&K. Neighboring countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan also have some.   Pheasants are the Winged guardians of Mountainscapes. Pheasants are the species of birds to which our national bird, the peacock, belongs.

Pheasants are  an indicator species for the health of our mountains. About a third of all the pheasants in the world are found in India. While many pheasants have been reduced to birds for captive breeding (like the jungle fowl) or as game birds in the US and Europe, several parts of Asia still have the wild population. Seeing a tragopan in the wild can be compared only to seeing a tiger in the wild for the first time. The round black-bordered white spots or ocelli on the tragopan's feathers make it look like the King of Birds studded with diamonds all over.  No wonder the local names for the tragopan are "Jewar" and "Sonalu".  The tragopan is the state bird of Himachal Pradesh.

The beautiful monal pheasant, 'the bird of nine colours', is the state bird for nd Uttarakhand and Nepal.  Monal feathers used to adorn the Kinnaur Caps of wealthy persons. Now their use is banned officially.

The birds cannot  be viewed as game birds as most of the Western community does but these birds are the  winged guardians of our mountainscapes. The pheasants are more than just beautiful birds, for they also have scientific value for environmentalists and ecologists. Years of research have shown that Himalayan pheasants are mostly found in moist, temperate forests where there is a thriving community of oak trees. Oaks are important in ecological terms because they grow only in forests that are mature with plenty of healthy undergrowth in the form of vibrant grasses and bushes and a wide array of specialized tree species.  After establishing the close link between oak trees and pheasants, ecologists have reached the conclusion that a fall in pheasant population mirrors an adverse change in the mature forest habitat.

The hills and valleys of the Himalayan ranges are the only areas left in the world where these exotic birds species still exist in their natural surroundings. Western Tragopan, Himalayan Monal, Cheer, Koklass and Khaleej - the mountainscapes exist because they exist.  Anyone living in the mountains will vouch for the Himalayan Monal whose calls warn the ground dwelling animals like musk deer, tahr and bear of approaching hunters /poachers. It is high time we removed the tag of game birds from pheasants.

See our short films

Sarahan-a Sanctuary for mountain birds
https://youtu.be/6xZtmM0uIZg



Mountain pheasants-Winged guardians of our mountainscapes
https://youtu.be/Np5kMkXdvKI

Sunday, October 7, 2018

First release of captive-bred* vultures in Asia

First release of captive-bred* vultures in Asia

Nepal and SAVE witnessed a further landmark for Asian vulture conservation on 17th September 2018, when the Government of Nepal and national and international conservation organisations released 12 critically endangered white-rumped vultures Gyps bengalensis, including the first eight birds actually hatched within the conservation breeding programme. Releases last year of birds reared (but not hatched) in the programme have so far shown very promising signs of survival and success, and in addition, 20 wild birds have now been satellite-tagged  - 11 in 2017, and a further 9 just prior to this release.

The first gate opens and several birds immediately joined the wild birds at the carcass outside. Photo: BCN
The work is a truly collaborative effort of many partners, led by Bird Conservation Nepal (BCN) and the National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC) together with Chitwan National Park and the Department of National Parks & Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC). The Director General of DNPWC and a small group of officials, scientists and community leaders watched as the BCN team quietly opened the doors of the release aviary using a remote pulley system. Six of the twelve vultures exited the release aviary and joined the wild birds feeding on the buffalo carcass almost immediately, and all twelve came out within half an hour. Six of the birds later returned inside the aviary where they spent the night, but immediately flew out again the following morning. The release site is at the village of Pithauli, Nawalparasi, close to Nepal’s Chitwan National Park.
“This is a world first for the release of white-rumped vultures actually bred in the Nepal breeding centre and is a major step for establishing secure wild populations now that we are confident that the veterinary use of diclofenac has been stopped in this country” said Mr Man Bahadur Khadka, DG, DNPWC.
The previous week, an expert team from the UK (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and Forestry Commission) together with the BCN team had fitted satellite tags to the birds with carefully designed harnesses (using the thoracic cross-hatch method), ready so they can be monitored after the release, and give us vital information about their movements, and any problems or causes of mortality . The team also caught and tagged nine wild white-rumped vultures, which are already being monitored, to compare their movements and behaviour with the released birds.

Fitting the satellite tag and wing-tags a week before the release. Photo: BCN
“The monitoring of the satellite-tagged birds is an important way to understand how well the birds are surviving, and to assess the safety of the “Vulture Safe Zone” said Ishana Thapa, CEO of BCN.  “If these and the previously tagged birds all survive then this is a further sign that the vulture conservation efforts are working”. Krishna Bhusal, BCN’s Vulture Conservation Program Officer of BCN added: “Releasing vultures, hatched in captivity, in this location, combines our in situ and ex situ efforts to save these birds, and the process of keeping the birds in the pre-release aviary for several months before release allows them to adjust and interact with wild birds - This is an exciting day for me and all Nepal”.

The officials slowly open the first gate of the release aviary using the remote pulley. Photo: BCN
Chitwan’s Chief Conservation Officer, Bed Kumar Dhakal said “We are proud that the vulture breeding at the Breeding Centre in Chitwan National Park has taken off, with nine chicks last year and six more in 2018”.  Jemima Parry Jones, UK birds of prey expert from the International Centre for Birds of Prey (ICBP) who advises the project said “Breeding and releasing these birds is a great credit to all involved, and shows how a combination of international and national partners can work successfully together to achieve very significant results. The huge success of the VSZs has meant we can have these amazing releases and aim towards all the vultures being back out in the wild by 2023”. Craig Pritchard, senior vet representing ZSL said how the birds all appeared to be in very good condition, and how pleased and privileged he felt to be part of this joint collaborative effort.

Briefing and speeches of the release immediately beforehand. Photo: BCN
Mr DB Choudhary, the local conservation community leader added “The Nawalparasi community is proud that their area has been selected for this historic release, following a series of vulture conservation initiatives in the area including running the vulture-safe feeding site here since 2006”
Chris Bowden, RSPB and Saving Asia’s Vultures from Extinction (SAVE) Programme Manager said “The successful removal of veterinary diclofenac across Nepal thanks to a lot of hard work, is the real reason behind the success so far and without this we couldn’t have gone ahead. These are the first ever Asian vultures to have been hatched and bred within a breeding programme and taken to the concluding phase of release to the wild. This illustrates the rationale behind these efforts and if enough birds survive without encountering killer veterinary drugs, we will be on track to release all the birds by 2023”
The vulture conservation work in Nepal is carried out with the full support of DNPWC, and led by BCN. The breeding centre was established in 2008 and is jointly managed by NTNC and Chitwan National Park. The main funding (and technical) support has come from the RSPB, but significant resources also come from all organisations involved as well as the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) who provide veterinary support and helped with funds for the release aviary, and the International Centre for Birds of Prey (ICBP) in the UK.

Flying free. Photo: Rajendra Gurung BCN
Calendar of the Nepal white-rumped vulture release programme so far:
April 2017: Transfer of the first 6 captive-reared* birds from the breeding centre to the release aviary.                                                  Trapped, satellite-tagged and released 6 wild white-rumped vultures
November 2017: First release of 6 captive-reared birds.  (Note five of the six released birds still alive and well after 10 months, but one was lost, possibly predated by a leopard)
Caught and tagged 5 more wild birds.
April 2018: Transferred 12 vultures from the breeding centre to the release aviaries.
September 2018: Released the first 8 captive-bred birds*, plus a further 4 captive-reared birds.                                                                        Also tagged and released 9 more wild birds.
There is now a total of 37 satellite tagged white rumped vultures, 20 wild birds and 17 released. All were caught or released in Nawalparasi in Nepal.
*Captive reared vultures are birds that came in as chicks collected from wild nests (in 2009 and 2010) reared and placed in the breeding centre for the breeding programme.
* Captive bred vultures are the offspring of those captive reared birds, hatched and parent reared in the breeding programme.

For more information on the Saving Asia’s Vultures from Extinction (SAVE) partnership and further news updates check www.save-vultures.org  and www.birdlifenepal.org

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Why the bulbul built a nest at our doorstep


Why did the bulbul choose a tree at the entrance to our house to build a nest?  Well, here is the story.

Our garden has feral cats, shikras and tree pies visiting regularly.  Needless to say all three are predators of birds.  The bulbul perceived less threat from the occupants of the house.
I Watched the parent birds and chick through the camera sitting in my house comfortably. Visitors to our house never noticed the nest, so the chick hatched successfully and grew into a handsome bulbul. 


An organic garden which is not manicured, but left to grow naturally.  That is the secret of attracting birds and butterflies into your garden. For me the pleasure of gardening is complete when I see it come alive with bird chirpings.

Please share the video if you like it.  Please also tell  what you think about the video.  Here is the link to the video.

https://youtu.be/csI7uur4mt8