Sunday, March 21, 2021

Faunal survey adds new birds and butterflies to Shendurney

Lesser Fish Eagle 

A 4-day annual faunal survey of Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary jointly conducted by Kerala Forest Department and Travancore Nature History Society (TNHS), concluded here with interesting finds. Faunal survey adds 6 new birds and 3 new butterflies to Shendurney. The 171 sq km sanctuary was covered by 10 teams of experts using basecamps in all elevations and habitats. The exercise was a part of the annual faunal assessment, which targets census of Butterflies, Birds, Odonates, spiders and mammals of the sanctuary. In addition, the teams also listed reptiles, amphibians and ants. The programme started with a meeting at Thenmalai where the participants were briefed about the survey. The meeting was inaugurated by the Wildlife Warden Mr Sajeev Kumar B, Mr Saju M Asst Wildlife Warden delivered the introductory speech and Dr. Kalesh Sadasivan explained the methodology and logistics to the delegates. Around 40 delegates from south India participated in the event, which included experts on various faunal groups from Travancore Nature History Society TNHS, Bangalore Butterfly Club (BBC), and students from various research institutes and colleges.

               A total of 187 species of Butterflies including 3 new additions, 167 species of birds including 4 additions and 2 confirmations, 50 species of Odonates and 40 species of spiders were recorded. Kattalapara, Kallar, Rockwood, Umayar Pandimotta, Alwarkuruchi, Idimuzghangan, Rosemala and Darbhakulam were the basecamps selected for the survey.   The additions were Small Cupid Chilades parrhasius (Fabricius, 1793) , Hampson’s Hedgeblue Acytolepis lilacea (Hampson, 1889) and Broad tailed Royal Creon cleobis (Godart, [1824]). The sanctuary was abode to a lot of endemic butterflies like the Red-Disc bush brown, Malabar Raven, Malabar Banded Swallowtail, Travancore Evening brown, Sahyadri Albatross, Banded Cat’s eye, Nilgiri tiger. Other rarities sighted were, Madras Ace, Sahyadri Rosy Oakblue, Golden Tree-flitter and the Tamil Dartlet. The highest number of butterflies species was seen in the Kallar 126 species followed by Rosemala 103 species. The first spider survey of the state was also done at Shendurney with finding of 43 species spiders were recorded for the region.

       The whole region was a haven for birds as well, with Umayar having 127 species followed by Darbhakulam region with 65 species.  The additions to the bird fauna were Jerdon's Bush lark Mirafra affinis Blyth, 1845, White browed fantailed flycatcher Rhipidura aureola Lesson, 1830, Wire Tailed Swallow Hirundo smithii Leach, 1818, Greater Spotted eagle Clanga clanga (Pallas, 1811) and Grey-breasted Prinia Prinia hodgsonii. The presence of three birds were confirmed which were previously suspected to occur in the region Chestnut-winged Cuckoo Clamator coromandus, Banded Bay Cuckoo Cacomantis sonneratii and Grey Bellied Cuckoo Cacomantis passserius. The State bird - Great Indian Hornbill Buceros bicornis was sighted in most of the camps. The previous records of Sri Lanka Bay Owl were confirmed for the sanctuary. The reservoir was home to River Terns, Pratincoles and the rare Lesser fish eagles, which were breeding there. The endemic birds that were recorded were Blandford’s Laughingthrush, Wayanad Laughingthrush, Nilgiri Wood Pigeon, Black and orange Flycatcher and Ashambu Sholakili. The delegates also documented the Dragonflies and Damselflies and a total of 49 species were recorded. The remarkable observations are the endemics Calocypha laidlawii and Euphaea cardinalis.The participants also recorded 21 species of mammals including the Brown Palm Civet, Indian Civet, Smooth coated Otter, Brown Mongoose and Dhole. The presence of large mammals like Tigers, Elephants, Leopard, Gaur and Sambar were also observed.

     The exercise concluded with the data compilation at Thenmalai on 14th March. The data will be compiled for the Management Plan revision, said the Warden. 

River tern

Jerdons Bushlark

Hampsons Hedgeblue

Grey Bellied Cuckoo 

Greater Spotted Eagle

Creon cleobis 

Banded Bay Cuckoo



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