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Kaiga bird marathon: 14 new species identified

MANGALORE: Fourteen new species have been identified during the annual 'Kaiga Bird Marathon' held on Sunday. The bird marathon is organized with an objective to identify bird species around Kaiga Generating Stations and Kaiga Township, near Karwar in Uttara Kannada district. With this addition, the total number of bird species identified in this region has increased to 227. 

The species identified include Booted Eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus), Eurasian collared dove (Streptopelia decaocto), Common rose finch (Carpodacus erythrinus), Rufous tailed lark (Ammomanes phoenicura), Black napped monarch (Hypothymis azurea), Grey breasted prinia (Prinia hodgsonii), Black Ibis (Pseudibis papillosa), Western reef egret (Egretta gularis), Bar winged flycatcher shrike (Hemipus picatus), Brown breasted flycatcher (Muscicapa muttui), Rufous woodpecker (Micropternus brachyurus), Malabar barbet (Megalaima malabarica), Drongo cuckoo (Surniculus lugubris), Red breasted(throated) flycatcher (Ficedula parva). 

Besides three hornbills (Malabar Pied hornbill - Anthracoceros coronatus, Indian Gray hornbill - Ocyceros birostris and Malabar grey hornbill - Ocyceros griseus ) which are residents in this area were also sighted. The birders also observed various winter migrants, raptors, waders and other birds. One of the team sighted Blank panther also in their transect. 

The marathon is an annual event held since 2011 by Kaiga Generating Station (KGS) under the aegis of the environmental stewardship programme of Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited. 

As many as 112 bird watchers and birding enthusiasts from Hubli, Bangalore, Udupi, Manipal, Hospet, Sirsi, Calicut and Mumbai participated in the event. Professional birders from North Karnataka Birders Network (NKBN), Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), Coastal Karnataka Birders Network (CKBN) and students from College of Forestry, Sirsi also took part in the event apart from nature enthusiasts working in NPCIL head quarters and Stations (Kaiga Generating station, Koodankulam Atomic Power station, Tarapur Atomic Power Station, Kakrapar Atomic power stations and Kalpakkam Atomic Power Station). 

Eight teams were formed to identify and count the birds along predefined transects. Each team had an expert ornithologist as team leader and two coordinators from Kaiga. The participants were informed about the rules and regulations and were advised to make all efforts for identifying the birds in the region. Hemant Kumar, Station Director, KGS 3&4, administered the environmental protection pledge to all the participants. The participants took the pledge to keep the environment clean during the event and not to cause any harm to any part of nature. 

The area in and around Kaiga was divided into eight transects. Each team had to travel through their allotted transect of six to seven km and record all aquatic, wetland, grassland, raptors and passerine birds sighted by them. All the data collected by these teams was compiled and analyzed by the organizers. 

The Times of India (15-01-2014)