The Red-necked Phalaropes in the picture above were clicked on my trip to Pt.Calimere, Vedaranyam in Tamil Nadu back in October 2012. We had spent 6 days at BNHS’s bird migration and research study center learning under the able guidance of Mr.Ranjit Manakadan and Dr.Bala, both of whom had been lucky enough to work and learn under the guidance of the great ornithologist Dr.Salim Ali.
I remember going around exploring the wetlands and forests in and around Pt.Calimere sanctuary with everyone. It was on one of these birding mornings scanning the salt pans, wetlands and marshes that I saw my first Pacific Golden Plovers thanks to Ranjit sir. Right after that we had moved ahead to an area full of Stints, Sandpipers, Plovers and other such Waders. It was here that Ranjit sir again spotted these two Phalaropes hidden amongst a sea of other waders. He had asked us to observe them thoroughly as it was a regular but uncommon winter visiter and although I didn’t have a decent camera back then, I’m glad I took this snapshot of the birds as I haven’t seen any Red necked Phalaropes anywhere else since 2012.
The number of rarities spotted around Pune this season has been astoundingly amazing. One of these rare beauties is the Red Phalarope who decided to rest and spend some time in a pond at Bhigwan near Pune.
The Red Phalarope is a vagrant to the Indian Subcontinent. According to reports it has only been sighted five times in India since the 1900s. It is a bird which spends the breeding season in the Arctic regions of North America and Eurasia and winters around western South America and south-western Africa. This was mainly the reason why the bird was treated as an absolute celebrity as soon as it showed up during the festival of Holi, in the back waters of Ujani dam in Bhigwan as no one knows that when will be the next time that this bird decides to show up on our part of the world.
I am glad that I made the trip to see this amazing bird which is not a regular visitor around the Indian subcontinent. And thanks to the bird that I decided to take my 150cc FZ-16 out for a 140 mile round trip, because I can’t remember the last time I decided to push my bike to its absolute limits 😉
Special thanks to Sandip Nagare, Ganesh Nagare and their team for patiently showing me around the backwaters of Ujani dam and keeping a vigilant watch out for such extremely rare and wonderful beauties. It was surely one helluva birding trip!