A lone Mandarin Duck was spotted in Arunachal Pradesh’s Ziro on Saturday. It is the first spotting of this small and exotic species in the state. Forest Department officials suspect that the duck made a 300-kilometre journey from Assam’ Maguri Motapung wetland, where it was spotted earlier this month.
“It was spotted on February 20 at the Siikhe Lake along with a big flock of another species,” said Abhinav Kumar, the Divisional Forest Officer, Ziro. “There is a high probability that it is the same duck which was spotted in Assam,” Kumar told EastMojo.
The bird was spotted by Millo Tako, a bird watcher from Ziro during the 13th edition of the Ziro Bird Walk. The walk, a collaborative effort between the state’s forest department, Arunachal Pradesh Birding Club and Nguno Ziro started in 2018. “331 species of birds have been recorded since the first edition,” Kumar said.
Birders suspect that the lone duck lost its way and ended up first in Assam. The eBird database describes it as a species that is “mainly found in pairs or singly, but will gather in larger flocks over the winter; perches readily in trees over water.”
The database notes it as the “small exotic-looking duck found at lakes and parks” whose males have “very ornate with big orangey ‘sail fins’ on the back, streaked orangey cheeks and a small red bill with a whitish tip’.
The eBird notes that the species is native to East Asia, but has established feral populations throughout Western Europe.
The bird rarely visits Northeast India. The eBird entries note that its most commonly spotted in Andaman and Nicobar Islands and was also spotted at Manipur’s Loktak Lake in 2013 and Manas National Park in Assam in 2014.
The spotting of the duck at the Maguri Motapung Wetland earlier this month after a gap of 108 years surprised bird watchers.