Life in Gurgaon

Himalayan bird seen in Gurugram 40 years after rare sighting in Delhi area

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About 40 years after it was last seen in the National Capital Region, a flock of fire-capped tits were sighted in Bhondsi on the afternoon of March 25. Birders said the sighting is significant as there are only two other documented instances of the bird being seen in Delhi-NCR, one in 1957 and the other in 1980.

The fire-capped tit, which can be recognised from its small build and orange-scarlet crest, was spotted by Mamta Kacker Muttreja, an amateur birder from Gurugram who took up the hobby about five years ago.

“I was out on a drive in Bhondsi, where I often go to birdwatch, to look for another bird, the black eagle, when I chanced upon 10 to 15 fire-capped tits in the Bhondsi Nature Park on Bharat Yatra Kendra Road,” she said. The birds travel in small flocks of about 10 or so while migrating.

Fire-capped tits are native to the Himalayan mountain range, where they nest at altitudes of about 6,000 feet. “During the winter, however, they descend to the foothills and plains adjoining the Himalayas and head back into the mountains sometime after March,” said Kanwar Singh, a Delhi-based birdwatcher who has close to two decades of experience in the field.

“There are no records of this bird being seen in the NCR in at least 40 years. Even experienced birders have not come across it, so it’s definitely exciting,” Singh added.

There exists a published record of the bird being seen in Delhi in 1957, in Usha Ganguli’s renowned book, A Guide to the Birds of the Delhi Area, while another birder named Sudhir Vyas reportedly saw the winged-creature in 1980. There are also some records of the bird being seen in the jungles of Madhya Pradesh during winter months, Singh said, adding that this particular flock consists of rare vagrants, which might have strayed into the NCR due to recent weather phenomena.

“There have been some cyclonic disturbances in the region over the last week, including heavy rains in some parts of the Himalayas, about 250kms from Delhi, which might have caused the birds to deviate from their natural migratory passage in search of more suitable conditions,” said Singh.

The fire-capped tit is classified as a ‘least concern’ (LC) species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), which means that its risk of extinction has been evaluated without much worry.