In Search of SEP: The Oriental Pratincole

The 4 Oriental Pratincoles are now more or less “stationary” in their chosen breeding grounds. One of the tagged birds with leg flag ID, SEP, made its way from the coastal plains of Eighty Mile Beach to Karnataka, India. Upon hearing the news of the bird’s arrival in India, a surveying team was subsequently organised and the expedition “In Search of SEP” began.

In April, SEP was tracked to the region of Bagalakot, in North Karnataka, where it was using a dam off-limits to the public. Subbu Subramanya and his team managed to negotiate access to the area to search the breeding population of pratincoles there for SEP. With support from Karnataka State Forest Department, a team spent two days searching for SEP among a large number of breeding pratincoles (as evidenced initially by broken wing displays and later by the discovery of nests with eggs). The team was successful in locating SEP on May 13, among a small group of around 50 pratincoles breeding in an area characterised by drying grass and dry gravelly ground, well away from the water’s edge.

The sighting SEP has generated quite an interest and the State Forest Department has shown keen interest in protecting the region to conserve both resident and migratory waterbirds. It is planning to get the area declared as a wetland of national importance and plans even to apply for the Ramsar Site nomination. As a part of this initiative, there is plans to declare the breeding area as a Conservation Reserve, for protecting OPs. Future days will reveal how these plans will take shape.