A birding visit to Andaman archipelago
Post date: May 24, 2018 11:48:58 AM
The largest Indian archipelago, the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal is situated in the equatorial belt. These are exposed to marine impacts having warm and humid tropical climate. The island receives an average of 300 to 3500 mm rainfall from both South-west and North-east monsoons, including sporadic cyclonic winds. The relative humidity remains between 66 and 85% throughout the year. Influenced by this weather and the specific location, profusely grown different forests types - Beach, Mangrove, Wet evergreen, Semi-evergreen, Moist deciduous and Grasslands are present (Lakshminarasimhan et al. 2011).
Due to isolation from the mainland, the endemism is very high in all taxa including avifauna. The archipelago is one of the Endemic Bird Areas and nineteen sites are identified as Important Bird Areas (Islam & Rahmani, 2005). A higher degree of endemism, i.e., 103–105 taxa out of 284 avian species and races recorded from these isolated archipelagoes (Sankaran & Vijayan, 1993; Vijayan et al. 2000; Pande Satish et al. 2007; Sivaperuman et al. 2014). A taxonomical deviation that separates species and species is dealt in detail in Compact Handbook (Ali & Ripley. 1987). Habitat diversity and the presence of wet forests on islands significantly influencing species richness of forest birds has been studied (Priya Davidar et al. 1996 & 2001).
Visited more diversity birding locations - Port Blair, Mt. Harriet National Park, Chidiyatapu biological park, Baratang, Dhaninallah Mangroves, Mayabundar, Diglipur -Smith & Ross Island, Rangath, Havelock Islands, Neil Island, Sippighat, Ogranbranj, Wandoor marine national Park, and Farrarganj spread over South, Middle & North Andaman. The first five ‘species-rich locations’ in descending order is tabulated (Table 1). The birding trial spread over 53 hours (03.2.2017 - 12.02.2017) resulted in 6072 birds belonging to 101 species (Table 2).
It is a pleasure and visual threat to identify the island species and subspecies in comparison with the mainland. A few are – Hill Myna’s nape-wattle not reaching the crown, darker female Koel, darker Striated Heron, Red-whiskered Bulbul’s White tips on rectrices, Fairy Blue-bird with longer tail & blue-grey vent, under parts of Red Turtle Dove more darker, Small Minivet females more yellowish flank & abdomen, White-throated Kingfisher wing patches more pronouncing, Stork-billed Kingfisher with pale cap and Collared Kingfisher with Blackish cheek, etc.,
Few birds characteristic behavioral observed are;
- Small flocks of Red-collared Doves Streptopelia tranquebarica humilis transformed into a large congregation (300+) before took roost in Pandanus clumpse at Ogranbranj wetlands.
- Similarly, the roosting activity of introduced species (Rajan & Pramod. 2013), Common Mynas Acridotheres tristis observed close to Agriculture research region just after Sippighat.
- Introduced species, House Sparrows Passer domesticus were comfortably at home forging inside ferries that regularly make trips between Bamboo Plot & Chattam Jetty throughout the day.
- White-bellied Andaman Shama Copsychus albiventis was active in very poorly lit foliage thicket.
- Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus is a migrant (Gokulakrishnan et al. 2015) to the archipelago, are found in good numbers wherever present.
- Barn Swallows Hirundo rustica were recorded as individuals in contrast to congregation compared to the mainland.
- A large congregation of Glossy Swiftlets Collocalia esculenta was foraging right above a large Ficus tree near Diglipur jetty.
Andaman Flowerpecker Dicaeum virescens
Andaman Serpent Eagle Spilornis elgini
Andaman Teal Anas albogularis
Green Imperial Pigeon Ducula aenea andamanica
Fulvousbreasted Pied Woodpecker Dendrocopas macei andamanesis
Hill Myna Gracula religiosa andamanensis
Pacific or House Swallow Hirundo tahitica
Violet Cuckoo Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus
Pacific Reef Egret Egretta sacra
Table 1: Species-rich locations (first five)
Table 2: List of birds observed during the visit
- Ali, S. & Ripley, D.S. 1987. Compact Handbook of the Birds of India and Pakistan together with those of Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka. 2nd ed. Oxford University Press, Delhi, India.
- Bnhsenvis. 2015. http://bnhsenvis.nic.in/Database/2015_17570.aspx.2015
- Gokulakrishnan G, Sivaperuman C, Jaisankar I, Velmurugan A and Dinesh J. Species Abundance and Distributions of Bird Communities in Agroecosystems, South Andaman, Journal of the Andaman Science Association 20(2):151-163(2015).
- Islam, Z.U. and Rahmani, A. R. 2005. Important Bird Areas in India. Priority sites for conservation. 1st ed. Mumbai: Indian Bird Conservation Network: Bombay Natural History Society and BirdLife International (UK).
- Lakshminarasimhan, P., Gantait, S., Rasingam, L. & Bandyopadhyay, S. 2011. Bibliography and Abstracts of Papers on Flora of Andaman & Nicobar Islands. ENVIS Centre on Floral Diversity, Botanical Survey of India, Howrah.
- Pande Satish, Sant N, Ranade S, Pednekar S., Mestry P, Deshpande P, Kharat S & Deshmukh V. 2007. Avifaunal survey of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Indian Birds 3 (5): 162–180.
- Priya Davidar, Yoganand RK, Ganesh T & Nirah Joshi. 1996. An assessment of common and rare forest bird species of the Andaman Islands. Forktail 12: 135-142.
- Priya Davidar, Yoganand RK & Ganesh T. 2001. Distribution of forest birds in the Andaman Islands: importance of key habitats. Journal of Biogeography 28(5): 663-671.
- Rajan, P., & Pramod, P., 2013. Introduced birds of the Andaman & Nicobar Islands, India. Indian BIRDS8 (3): 71-72
- Sankaran, R. & Vijayan, L. 1993. The avifauna of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands: A review and the current scenario. In: Bird Conservation.
- Sivaperuman C, Gokulakrishnan T, Dinesh J and Venkataraman K. 2014. Six new Records of Birds from Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Biological Forum 6(1): 127-133.
- Vijayan, L., Sankaran, R., Sivakumar, K. & Murugan, V. 2000. A study on the ecology, status and conservation perspectives of certain rare endemic avifauna of the Andaman & Nicobar Islands: Final Report. Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology & Natural History, Coimbatore, India