Count for Indian Skimmer to take place over the weekend

Count for Indian Skimmer to take place over the weekend

More widespread in winter, the Indian skimmer is found in the coastal estuaries of western and eastern India

Representative image. Credit: iStock

The Bombay Natural History Society in association with  Bird Count India is conducting the  first coordinated global Indian Skimmer Count.

Population of the Indian Skimmer (Rynchops albicollis) was earlier widely distributed across the Indian Sub-continent, along the major rivers of Myanmar and the Mekong in Indo-China.

At present maximum population is confined to India, Bangladesh and Pakistan along with few records in Myanmar and Nepal.

The BNHS identified the Indian Skimmer under its priority list of birds which need immediate conservation intervention. The Indian Skimmer is also included in the India’s National Action Plan for Conservation of Migratory Birds and their habitats along Central Asian Flyway (CAF) by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

The count is an initiative to bridge the knowledge gap for the species.

This count is being conducted in two phases. The first phase will be conducted on 19/20 December, 2020, and the second phase in January, 2021.

Participants are encouraged to visit any of the short-listed sites or other potential sites of their choice where Indian Skimmers are likely to be recorded on the count dates. This will help in conserving this incredible species.

More widespread in winter, the Indian skimmer is found in the coastal estuaries of western and eastern India. It occurs primarily on larger, sandy, lowland rivers, around lakes and adjacent marshes and, in the non-breeding season, in estuaries and coasts.

They are very brightly marked in black, white and orange, making them difficult to miss.

The Indian skimmer grows to a length of 40-43 cm. It has black upper parts, white forehead, collar and lower parts, long, thick, deep orange bill with a yellow tip and longer lower mandible.

In flight, it has a white trailing-edge to wing and a short forked tail with blackish central feathers. Non breeders are duller and have browner upper parts. Juveniles have a dusky orange bill with a blackish tip, paler brownish-grey crown and nape with dark mottling and paler, more brownish-grey mantle and whitish to pale buff fringing scapulars and wing coverts.It breeds colonially on large, exposed sand-bars and islands.

Colonies of mating pairs can be observed nesting on sandy islands or open sand banks, often accompanied by other birds like Terns during the breeding season, between February and May. It feeds on surface-dwelling fish, small crustaceans and insect larvae. It emits a nasal kap or kip notes, particularly in flight and when disturbed.