This Chennai visitor does not grant birders an easy audience

The Terek Sandpiper’s brow is a cliff wearing feathers. The fowl would nonetheless be headbutted out of a “Mr. Steep Brow” contest. The Pied Avocet, additionally a Chennai migrant, is sufficient to sprint its hopes. Positioned subsequent to the Avocet’s brow, Mount Thor with its daunting cliff is only a hopelessly flat-lined ECG lead.

The Terek Sandpiper’s extra attention-grabbing characteristic is its upcurved invoice. Right here once more, the Pied Avocet is comfortably positioned above the competitors. The Terek Sandpiper’s nickname — Avocet Sandpiper — in reality settles the matter, saying who will get the higher of the opposite within the two-feature contest.

One needn’t make it to the highest percentile for a high quality to draw consideration for it.

“As with plovers, the Terek Sandpiper’s invoice rises instantly from the invoice base,” says S. Balachandran, deputy director, BHNS Regional Migration Research Centre, Level Calimere.

Balachandran has actually had a “ring-side” view of this species, having held some in his palms, yr after yr, to have them ringed.

“On a mean, 15 to twenty Terek Sandpipers are ringed on the centre,” Balachandran volunteers the data.

His observations of the Terek Sandpiper at Level Calimere affirm what is usually believed to be true in regards to the species. That it doesn’t wrack its steep brow over the Ruddy Turnstone poking round in its feeding space.

It’s their variations that in all probability allow these two birds to share feeding house, with out frequent squawks of protest.

With its sturdy and quick invoice, the Ruddy Turnstone probes into the mud and pecks arduous on the flotsam that could be harbouring prey, or turns small stones to show hidden meals.

Balachandran factors out that with its upcurved invoice, the Terek Sandpiper’s foraging behaviour contrasts sharply with the Ruddy Turnstone’s.

“The Terek Sandpiper has to scoop its prey out of the mud, earlier than ingesting it,” explains Balachandran.

From there, an inference is nearly begging to be made.

Although the Terek Sandpiper shares a great a part of its weight loss program plan with the Ruddy Turnstone — the Terek Sandpiper feeds largely on crabs, and typically molluscs, as Balachandran places it — the distinction within the design of their feeding instruments appears to be obtain a steadiness that allows bill-gritting tolerance and co-existence.

It’s at frequent feeding grounds that one finds a robust cause to be grateful that birds’ payments don’t comply with a cookie-cutter design.

Hardly gregarious

“The Terek Sandpiper doesn’t happen in massive flocks in any a part of its distribution vary,” says Balachandran.

Vikas Madhav Nagarajan, eBird reviewer, places it this fashion: A big flock of Terek Sandpiper might usually simply imply “4 birds collectively”.

A Terek Sandpiper flock on a mudflat at Pulicat. Photograph: Sundaravel Palanivelu

Vikas factors out that in its vary, sightings of the Terek Sandpiper are most certainly round tidal flats, significantly mangrove tidal flats, and estuarine programs.

“It’s present in such an atmosphere round Marakanam, Mudaliar Kuppam backwaters and Pulicat,” he elaborates. Given this, why doesn’t Adyar Estuary additionally determine prominently amongst its hangouts?

“It could be troublesome to seek out the fowl there, however not unattainable. It’s a skulky fowl and wouldn’t be seen from a spot that we’re in a position to entry. They may very well be discovered within the sand bars at Adyar Estuary,” is Vikas’ response.

The eBird reviewer nevertheless calls it a “common” fowl displaying up the place it’s anticipated to — Vikas’ view relies partly on his commentary of the Terek Sandpiper constantly maintaining its date with a specific sand bar at Mudaliar Kuppam Backwaters, through the years.

(Migrant Watch is a weekly column in regards to the birds that go to Chennai through the migratory season)

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