The bird was spotted by Nirmal George, NSS Programme officer of Sree Gokulam Medical College and Research Foundation, in the capital district on November 14.
Willow warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus), one of longest migrating small bird which breeds throughout northern and temperate Europe and the Palearctic, sighted for the first time in the country at Punchakkari in the capital.
The bird was spotted by Nirmal George, Associate Professor in Pharmacology, and Programme officer of the National Service Scheme of Sree Gokulam Medical College and Research Foundation, Venjaramoodu, in the capital district on November 14 around 9.30 a.m.
“The abnormal behaviour, shape and non-familiarity with other warblers commonly seen in this area was what caught my attention. The photographs were taken from a distance. Although I visited the area again in the evening to get more pictures of the bird, I had to return home disappointed,” says Dr. George.
Posting of the photos of the bird in the birding team whatsapp group and consultations with 10 international experts helped identify the sighted bird at Punchakkari as Willow warbler. “It is the first time that Phylloscopus trochilus had been sighted and reported in the country,” he said.
Weighing around 10gm, the long wing feathers used to migrate a long distance makes it peculiar. It is usually seen in European and Palearctic regions and they migrate to sub Saharan Africa during early winter. Warblers are generally difficult to identify due to the small size and change in plumage twice a year.
Dr. George doing birding for one year, has identified 163 species of birds and photographed over 100 species. Most of them were from Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta and Idukki districts.
Warblers are one of the most difficult groups of birds to identify in the field for their striking resemblance to each other and small size. Biodiversity consultant Sujith V. Gopalan says 17 species of warblers have been recorded from Kerala and the willow warbler forms the 18th warbler and 533rd species of bird to be recorded from the State.
Vellayani-Punchakkari Paddy Fields is a birding hotspot in the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuam. It’s known to harbour more than 213 species of birds which includes both resident and migratory birds. As many as seven species of warblers were recorded from Vellayani-Punchakkari paddy fields of which Blyth’s Reed Warbler and Clamorous Reed Warbler are common.
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