Thursday, 20 December 2012

Sri Lankan Darvic Recorded!

Well, the above headline is true, though not related to our local area. During November and December I visited India and Sri Lanka on a birding trip and before setting off, the joke was “How many colour rings will you see?”

As my tour was scheduled to visit a number of wetlands, the possibility of finding a ringed bird was indeed intriguing. Many birds with potential were seen, including herons, waders and cormorants. However, it was not until we visited the Bundala Nature Reserve in south-east Sri Lanka that a ringed bird was spotted.

 Bundala is an area of wetlands consisting of brackish water lagoons, salt pans, freshwater reservoirs and freshwater marshlands. Although outside the Palaearctic area, Sri Lanka is at the end of the Central Asia Flyway, therefore many of the waterbirds, waders, terns and herons are common to this region.

During the brief visit, large numbers of waders including Pacific Golden Plover, Curlew Sandpiper, Kentish, Greater Sand and Lesser Sand Plover were recorded. Terns consisted of Great and Lesser Crested, Caspian, Whiskered, Little and White Winged.

 A typical snapshot of the numerous birds using Bundala

Among the many assemblies, was one of Little Stints, the first time I had seen a flock of these small waders foraging together. Closer inspection highlighted one bird with what looked like a large metal ring.  A telescope view verified this as a white darvic with a code of 0034. Additionally, the words DWLC Sri Lanka were also read from the ring.

The only ringed bird that was seen – 0034

Upon returning to North-east Scotland I set about trying to report this sighting. Initial searches for a contact at the Sri Lankan Department for Wildlife Conservation drew a blank. Even the advertised website address returned an error. I then came across the Field Orni-thology Group of Sri Lanka (FOGSL) - I therefore sent my sighting to the leader of this organisation.

The feedback indicated the bird had been ringed on 22 January 2012 in the same area as it was found. The bird had therefore completed at least one migration to its breeding grounds and returned to the same wintering site. This was the first re-sighting of the bird since ringing.

Ringing in Sri Lanka appears to be in its infancy, but through FOGSL, more projects are being implemented. Details of this ringing project can be found in the following paper:

Although the sighted bird had only a limited history, further visitors to Sri Lanka and expeditions to Siberia will hopefully build upon this modest start.


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