SUBJECT : Three rare bird species merlin, white browed bushchat and short eared owls have been spotted at Sultanpur flats, a populated area near Sultanpur National Park

Gurgaon, November 2, 2017: Three rare bird species merlin, white browed bushchat and short eared owls have been spotted at Sultanpur flats, a populated area near   in the last one week.

According to birders, white-browed bushchat or Stoliczka's bushchat and merlin have rarely been spotted in the NCR region. "This is probably the first time that we have spotted white-browed bushchat this year in the NCR region. Merlin, on the other hand, has very few earlier records in this part of the country. We are glad to see these rare birds at Sultanpur flats," said Amit Sharma, an avid birder and a resident of Uppal Southend residential society in Sector 49.

Not just Sharma, a few more birders spotted the white-browed bushchat. Pankaj Gupta from Delhi Bird Foundation told TOI, "What makes white-browed bushchat easily identifiable is its peculiar behaviour. It is a kind of belly dance performed by the bird. I was lucky to not only spot the species, but also record its dance on video. The bird performs 'puff and roll' by suddenly puffing up its belly and shaking sideways. It was an amazing experience." Both Gupta and Sharma captured the bird on camera.

Talking about the other two species — merlin and short-eared owls, Gupta said, "It took us some time to confirm the sighting of merlin, as it is very rare. However, after looking at the photos provided by a few birders, it was confirmed that the spotted bird was indeed merlin. Short-eared owl has been spotted by a couple of birders, including myself in Sultanpur flats."

Activists raised the need to protect at least a five-kilometre buffer zone around the Sultanpur National Park as more species are spotted around the park. "While many species of ducks choose Sultanpur National Park due to existence of a water body, many bird species remain in the grassland around the park. As we have been spotting so many species, including these three rare ones, in Sultanpur flats, this year, there is an urgent need to protect the area around the national park," said Gupta.

"The spotting of rare species has given rise to new hope and also a reason to conserve the area around Sultanpur National Park," said Sharma.

Listed as a vulnerable species, white-browed bushchat is a desert bird and breeds in Rajasthan. It is dependent on birds and grasses such as Saccharum Spontaneum and Saccharum Munja.

Merlin and short-eared owl, on the other hand, are migratory birds from Europe. While the species have been marked as of least concern by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), they are sighted very rarely in India.

Source: Times of India