Dear Fellow birders,
It is that time of the year again- when our wetlands start brimming with migratory birds and we, Kole Birders, a collective of birdwatchers & biodiversity enthusiasts in Kerala, try to stop a few charismatic species from stealing the show!
The “Peep & Raptor challenges” start on Nov 1, 2018 and conclude on Jan 1, 2019.
Raptors, or Birds of Prey, refers to several species of birds that hunt and feed on rodents and other small animals. It includes Eagles, Ospreys, Kites, Hawks, Buzzards, Harriers, Vultures, Falcons, Owls etc. They are characterised by hooked beaks and strong talons.. Veritable killing machines of nature. They occupy the topmost level of the food chain and hence indicate the health of the ecosystem. Many of the individuals you see in the field may be immatures and difficult to identify to the species level.. But that’s the challenge!
Peeps include the birds in the genus “Calidris”.. They are small waders like stints some of which are very colourful in their breeding plumage, but visit us (Kerala) in their drab winter plumage. Most of these diminutive birds breed in the Arctic and travel all the way to our wetlands in winter! Some of them like the Spoon-billed Sandpiper are threatened with extinction.
To know more about peeps.. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calidrid
Update: Considering the valuable opinion of enthusiastic birders, the peep challenge has been upgraded to a “shore bird” challenge. The following birds will be considered for the same:
Recurvirostridae: Stilts, Avocets
Charadriidae: Plovers, Lapwings, etc
Dromadidae: Crab Plover
Glareolidae: Pratincoles (excluding Coursers)
What to do?
Observe peep and raptor species and record them with photographs/calls/field notes. Update your observations in e-bird (Nov 1, 2018 to Jan 1, 2019).
Where to observe?
Any Habitat bound by the Chalakkudy and the Bharathupuzha Rivers.
The best Peep/Raptor observer will be awarded a complementary prize to encourage more birding! Prizes will be distributed on the occasion of Asian Waterbird Census (Annual Kole Survey 2019).
Let these twin-challenges be a challenge to yourself. After the end of this exercise, you should acquire the expertise to identify some of the most difficult birds to identify in the field! Let’s keep the competition healthy, but lively.