Giant shrike bird spotted in Tawang

[ Bengia Ajum ]

ITANAGAR, 14 May: For the first time in India, a giant shrike bird species has been spotted in Tawang district.

A physiotherapist from Mumbai, Kalyan Kapdi, who was on a family holiday in March, found the bird species while visiting Sangetsar Lake in Tawang district. This is the first time that a giant shrike has been recorded in India; otherwise, this particular species has been recorded in China.

Talking to this daily, Kapdi shared the fascinating story of how she ended up spotting this unique bird species while on a family holiday trip.

“On 28 March, I was visiting Bumla Pass and Sangetsar Lake with my family, which includes my parents, husband and son. This was my first weeklong trip to Arunachal Pradesh. On the way to Sangetsar Lake, I noticed a bird flying alongside our vehicle. Since this was a new place for me and we were at a considerable altitude, I was aware of the possibility of unusual sightings. I requested our driver to stop the vehicle so I could photograph the bird, which, luckily, had perched on a pole ahead,” she said.

The area has a heavy military presence due to its proximity to the Chinese border. The roads are narrow and a lot of tourist vehicles ply, as well. “Unlike Sela Pass, there is limited opportunity for birding on foot. I had to content myself with taking pictures from the vehicle itself. The bird looked very much like the great gray shrike, which has a wide distribution in India. I realised it didn’t have any distribution in Arunachal upon checking the Merlin (Bird ID) app,” she said.

Kapdi shared the image and details of the location with Salehin Md Habib, a birder from Kolkata, for review, who further discussed it with Sandeep Biswas, another birder from Kolkata. “I was quite surprised when Salehin called the next day with the exciting news that the shrike has been confirmed as giant shrike and it was the first record for India,” Kapdi said.

Kapdi is a passionate trekker and has also been birding for five years.