Bird watchers and ornithologists in Ahmedabad are enthused by an American guest of the avian sort. In fact, if Dr. Aneet Patel hadn’t managed to photograph the unusually cunning visitor from North America with his camera, it would have gone unreported.
Dr Patel, 35, a wildlife photographer and bird watcher managed to photograph the migratory bird that is so rare in the country that it has only been spotted less than ten times to date.
Dr Patel has now helped document the sighting of the Pectoral Sandpiper for the first time in Gujarat. He photographed the avian visitor on December 27, 2020, at Pariej wetland in Kheda. The wetland attracts a host of migratory birds.
Like a lottery winner who did not realise he had hit the jackpot, Dr Patel did not realise that the bird he photographed was a rare one. He decided to go through the photographs of the bird two years later after reports of the Pectoral Sandpiper being sighted in another state came to light.
Dr Patel said he had gone to Pariej wetland in Kheda, about 60 km from Ahmedabad for bird watching and photography in December 2020.
Dr Patel said,“When I realised that I may have sighted and photographed a rare migratory visitor, I approached my friend Sejal Shah, a birder, who put me in touch with the Bird Conservation Society, Gujarat (BCSG),”.
BCSG confirmed that it was indeed a Pectoral Sandpiper and that it was the first recorded photographic evidence of the bird’s presence in Gujarat.
Bird watchers and experts said that the Pectoral Sandpiper is a Native North American bird that breeds on the US East coast and the Siberian Arctic. Prasad Ganpule, an Ornithologist, said the Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris melanotos) is a medium-sized sandpiper, breeding in the Tundra of eastern Russia and wintering in small numbers in Southeast Asia, New Zealand and Australia.
“It is a vagrant to India, with previous records from Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. There are less than 10 records of this species from India and it is a genuine vagrant here,” said Ganpule, who is also an executive member of the BCSG. “Dr Aneet Patel’s photograph of the Pectoral Sandpiper in December 2020 at Pariej is the first sighting of this bird in the state.”