Rare sighting of Great Bittern in Rajasthan's Bundi rejoices birdwatchers

Kota, Nov 28 ( PTI) Amid the recovery of carcasses of thousands of migratory birds near Rajasthan's Sambhar Lake, the rare sighting of winter migratory bird Great Bittern or Eurasian Bittern in Ramnagar wetlands in Bundi district has rejoiced birdwatchers.

Experts claim the shy and slow moving bird has been spotted for the first time in the desert state after having made its appearance for rare sighting in and around Delhi and once in Dehradun between 2002 and 2016.

Usually having its habitat in wetlands of middle Europe and North Africa, Great Bittern is likely to have measured around 4400 miles to reach the wetlands in Bundi district, the bird experts believe.

Rare sighting of the Great Bittern in Ramnagar wetland, a few days ago, stunned Prithvi Singh Rajawat, former honorary wildlife conservator, who was instantly prompted to invite Jaipur-based bird expert and coordinator of state birds' census Manoj Kulshresth to visit the wetlands in Bundi and to confirm the presence of Great Bittern.

'There is habitat of Great Bittern in Ramnagar wetlands that I noticed and it is a very suitable habitat and I did see the bird but from a distance,' Kulshresth said on Wednesday evening, confirming the presence of Great Bittern in Bundi.

'I got the pictures and that is exactly Great Bittern' he said.

'This is rare in Rajasthan as nobody so far has seen or published the presence of the bird in the state,' Kulshresth claimed.

'It is a very big bird measuring around 75-85 centimetres. It is getting all requirements for its habitat as there is enough water, high grasses to cover and enough food,' he added.

The environment organizations in Europe and Africa have categorized Great Bittern as endangered species.

The bird is reported to have been sighted in 2002 in Okhla Bird Sanctuary and in Dehradun in 2016.

Great Bittern has so far no record of its presence in Rajasthan and its rare sighting in Bundi wetlends is very significant and will boost wildlife tourism in the area, said Rishi Sharma, a wildlife researcher.

However, Sharma expressed concern over safety and security of the migratory bird in Ramnagar, saying colonies of Kanjar tribe, allegedly involved in bird poaching, exist around Ramnagar wetlands and the winged guests need to be protected from them. PTI CORR CK