New Delhi: With bright orange legs and a black tipped bill marked with an orange stripe along its centre there is no mistaking the Bean Goose, a winter visitor so rare that it has been sighted in the Indian subcontinent only twice before in more than a decade.
A group of bird watchers and researchers undertaking the annual water fowl census in Tumariya Wetlands near the Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand reported sighting a solitary Bean Goose among a flock of other bird species.
"A lone Bean Goose was sighted by a five member team comprising Zaara Kidwai, Idrish Hussain, Ashok and Satya Pal on December 1, 2011, among a flock of species like the Bar-headed Gooze and Ruddy Shelduck, which are common migrants to the Corbett landscape.
This find was later confirmed by consulting several members of the goose specialist group of Wetlands International and IUCN-Species Survival Commission," said Anushree Bhattacharjee, who headed the research team.
The Bean Goose, known by the scientific name Anser Fabalis, is a large to medium-sized bird that breeds throughout northern regions of Europe and Asia. These geese belong to the Anatidae family. They come in two varieties- the Tundra Bean Goose and the Taiga Bean Goose.
"The one sighted in Tumariya was confirmed as Tundra Bean Goose by experts. They travel south during winter months in the Artic to temperate and sub-tropical regions. The range of these species usually extends south only as far till China", says Anushree.
Tumariya Reservoir is not inside Corbett Tiger Reserve but part of the Corbett landscape falling within the jurisdiction of the Terai West Forest Division. It falls in two districts, part Nainital and part Udham Singh Nagar District. The Bean Goose sighting occurred in the half that falls within Nainital Dstrict.
The Bean Goose has been sighted in the Indian subcontinent only twice before. In 2003, it was first reported by a group of bird-watchers in Harike, Punjab who saw a solitary Bean Goose among a flock of Greylag Goose. Since then, there has been another record of a sighting in Assam in 2007.
This sudden migration is also attributed to the change in weather pattern.
"Global warming and change in weather pattern could be seen as the major reasons for migration. But the study is still going on to come to a consensus," says the researcher.