SPECIES SIGHTING: Researchers of the Zoological Survey of India have been delighted to find two new bird species in India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands. These birds namely the Blue and White Flycatcher (Cyanoptila cyanomelana)  and the Great Short-Toed Lark (Calandrella brachydactyla ) have never before been seen or photographed in these parts, proving once again the hidden natural jewels that lie in these biodiversity rich islands.

Greater Short toed Lark, Image by ZSI

The Bird on Land

The Great Short Toed Lark or Greater Short toed Lark is a terrestrial bird that has plumage of a brownish black color, helping it to easily blend in with the surrounding soil or sandy areas which it inhabits. It might be this perfect camouflage that made it difficult for experts to find the bird living in the Andaman Island earlier.

Last December though scientists of the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) sighted a sparrow sized bird hopping around on the ground in the Landfall Island Wildlife Sanctuary. Keen observation and photos of the bird proved that it was indeed the Lark species.

K. Venkataraman, Director, ZSI said that this is the first time the bird has been found in these islands. However, it was recorded in Southern Myanmar which was published in the book ‘The Birds of Burma’ in 1953. This yielded some interesting information about the migration pattern of this bird which has a vast range throughout northwest Africa and southern Europe, stretching east to Mongolia and China.

During their survey, the ZSI authorities sighted the bird in the southern seashore of Landfall Island that was devastated by the 2004 tsunami.

Blue and White Flycatcher, Image ZSI

The Bird in the Sky

The Blue and White Flycatcher also known as the Japanese Flycatcher is a migratory bird with an extremely large range. According to Dr. Venkataraman the bird breeds north east of China, south east of Russia and in North Korea.

This beautiful blue and white bird was sighted in the Saddle Peak National Park in North Andaman but because it is not commonly seen here, the team were not able to identify it. The researchers then took the help of a field guide as reference and established the bird’s correct identity. Needless to say it was an exciting discovery to spot a bird and gain photographic evidence of the flycatcher in these islands.

Although available records do show that some winter migrants, while returning home, take a sojourn to various islands of the Andaman and Nicobar, Dr. Venkataraman said this was the first and authentic record of the presence of this species in the Indian territory.

In 2012 the ZSI team had also successfully discovered a new bird species in the islands called the Great Nicobar Crake. It was the first new bird species to be discovered in India since 1947.

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Reference and Image courtesy The Hindu

About Atula Gupta

Atula Gupta is the Founder and Editor of indiasendangered.com. Her work has appeared in a number of international websites, dailies and magazines including The Wire, Deccan Herald, New Indian Express, Down to Earth and Heritage India on issues related to environment and its conservation. She is also the author of Environment Science Essentials, a set of books for school children. She hopes this website provides a platform for people to be aware about species in the verge of extinction and heighten their conservation efforts.

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