by Madhurima Das
In the winter of 2014, visitors to the lake were in for a pleasant surprise- a raft of Garganey ducks in the water! Avid birders could easily identify them. The males had brown heads and breasts with a broad white crescent over the eye and a reddish-brown face. The females were less striking and could be mistaken for the common teal. Winter brings flocks of migratory birds to the lakes of Bangalore, but this was a bonus as it is the spot-billed ducks that are the common visitors! Garganey’s place of origin is Europe and West Asia, but the biting winter cold brings them to temperate regions like South Africa, India, Bangladesh and Australia.
Like other migratory birds, climate change, loss of habitat and human interference pose threats to their survival. Garganey prefer breeding in marshlands and flooded fields. Though IUNC lists Garganey in the “least concern status”, a population decline of as much 30% has been observed over the last 10 years.
Some relevant facts on the Garganey: They belong to the sub-family of dabbling ducks which are a part of the larger Anatidae that comprise ducks, geese and swans. They feed mainly at the surface, rather than by diving. Their scientific name is Spatula querquedula.
Photo credits: Sanjay Mysoremutt and SK Srinivas