Monday, November 19, 2007

Amur Falcons in Mumbai

I was at home on 19th Nov'07 (Monday) when I got a call from Shashank Dalvi at 5.45 pm that a Friend (Mr.Kevin) has spotted some birds circling in a big group somewhere near Matunga...... I called Kevin immediately and he confimed that while travelling (in train) via Matunga Road station, he saw some birds in a huge flock that were not looking like kites, near and above Matunga station.....offcourse I suspected Amur Falcons, as this is the time when they are on passage migration over Mumbai....

Within 20 mins (on my bike) , I was at the spot where Kevin had mentioned but could not find any bird....Just when I thought that, they might have moved on.....I saw some smokish patch in the clouds that was moving towards Dadar Chowpatty / Hinduja Hospital......on close observation
thro' my binocs, that was indeed a small cloud of birds moving high up, however, I could only see the silloutte......I raced towards Dadar chowpatty, just in time to get a glimpse of what it was.....and lo behold.....they were indeed "Amur Falcons".....about 250 to 300 of them....I could just, but clearly see the unmistakable falcons with some showing the whitish contrast to darker wings and were circling and moving towards Bandra reclamation...still a bit high up....I suspected they would roost somewhere there for the night.....I saw them only for a couple of mins, before they moved from sight and it was too dark (6.20 pm) by then.....my God....what a fantastic moment that was......

I was twice lucky in this week, as again on 22nd Nov'07, I had been to Gawlideo hills with Julius Rego and we had a wonderful sighting of a pair of Amur falcons hunting insects in mid air (I got some record shots) ....the pair was zooming in air at breathneck speed, hunting for insects and gave us good views for about half an hour...



*Amur Falcons (Falco amurensis*), formerly known as Eastern Red-footed Falcon, breeds in south eastern Siberia, China & Mongolia and winters in South Africa. It is a passage migrant to India....seen from Mid Nov. to Mid Dec. and again in April while returning.....

It is an unmistakable falcon with slaty grey (sooty) colour and red legs.....the underparts has white contrasting with grey.....the females look like Common Kestrel females, but with a dark eye mask and thin tail band..... They are gregarious while on migration and are often encountered in huge nos.


Apparantly Amur Falcons are passage migrants to our region particularly sighted during this time (Mid Nov to Mid Dec.).....Interestingly Shashank Dalvi sighted and Photographed 1000+ Amur falcons in Nameri National Park (Arunachal Pradesh) on 11th Nov......then Dr.Vaibhav Deshmukh sighted 3-4 of them in Alibaug, Near Mumbai on 18th Nov.....and I saw about 250
- 300 hovering Amur falcons in Mumbai (Near Dadar Sea shore) on 19th Nov.....They again migrate back in April........2 years back we sighted 4 Amur falcons in March in Bhimashankar WLS...about 250 kms from Mumbai East....

There have been regular sightings of Amur falcons from Mumbai region in recent years (Mine is this 4th sighting) in 3 years....

I have taken some record shots of the pair in Gawlideo....click below to view these...

http://www.indianaturewatch.net/displayimage.php?id=30993

and

http://www.indianaturewatch.net/displayimage.php?id=30992

To Know more about this raptor....click below.

http://www.globalraptors.org/grin/SpeciesResults.asp?specID=8225

and

http://www.answers.com/topic/amur-falcon?cat=technology



*Regards,*
*Adesh Shivkar*

BTW: As I parked my bike and ran towards the shore like mad and started looking up thro' my Binocs....smiling and obviously very very excited.....there were scores of people who were quite amused looking at me and wondering what this chap is upto looking at the sky and laughing like a
freak :)

1 comment:

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