With blue-grey head, orange belly and outer tail feathers, dark brown wings and white back, he came to Haripad to enjoy the beauty of the backwaters. He is a rare migratory bird named rock thrush, ie. Monticola saxatilis in nomenclature.
For the first time he made a visit to southern states of India and he chose God’s own country. On record Kerala got the rare opportunity to be the host for the rock thrush and the credit goes to photographer S.R. Prashant Kumar, who took the photo of the bird when it was seen in Haripad.
Prashant, a bird watcher captured the pictures of this rare bird, when he had been watching the birds in a place, which was under the custody of NTPC thermal plant, now aquired for Haripad Medical College. He sent the pictures to Salim Ali Centre For Ornithology And Natural History to identify. But they also couldn’t identify the bird.
Then for a detailed analysis the pictures were sent to Europe to bird watcher Chris, who holds the position of Oriental Bird Image editor and he is the sub author of A Field Guide Of Birds In Indian Continent. He recognised the bird is small male rock thrush.
That was a medium-sized, but stocky thrush 17-20 cm in length. Females and immatures are much less striking, with dark brown scaly upperparts, and paler brown scaly underparts. The outer tail feathers are reddish, like the male.
An unanswerable question in Prashant’s mind is that how it came to India ? “No chance has found yet, why it came to India”, says Prashant.
The rock thrush is not a small species. It breeds in southern Europe across central Asia to northern China. This species is strongly migratory, all populations wintering in Africa south of the Sahara. It is an uncommon visitor to northern Europe. Its range has contracted somewhat at the periphery in recent decades due to habitat destruction.
Small species, larvae etc is its main food. In winter time it used to take small fruits, grass, etc. It prefers areas over elevations of 1,500 meters with open hills and light vegetation. However, it will occasionally breed on lower slopes, where there may be a reduced amount of foraging competition. The female will lay 4 to 5 eggs in a clutch, and the eggs hatch after an incubation period of 12 to 15 days.
The bird watching area, which is situated in Nangiarkulangara, under the custody of NTPC, is a paradise of birds. Sometimes, this nice flat grassy ground is used as place for driving training, playing football etc. Once, also for the first time in Kerala, a different type of brown dove had visited this area. Similar places are here and there in Haripad, but the wonder is why the roaming birds come here only.
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