New bird species recorded in Shuklaphanta National ParkLesser grey shrike (Lanius minor), which is commonly found in South and Central Europe and West Asia, was seen near Shyali River in the second week of May.
A new bird species has been sighted in Shuklaphanta National Park, a protected area spreading over 305 square kilometres in the Kanchanpur district of Sudurpaschim Province.
Lesser grey shrike (Lanius minor), which is commonly found in South and Central Europe and West Asia, has been recorded for the first time in Nepal. According to the national park official, the bird species was sighted in the Kalapani area which lies in the eastern part of the Shuklaphanta National Park.
Devraj Joshi, a wildlife technician working at the Shuklaphanta Conservation Programme of the National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC), recorded the bird species while monitoring birds in the second week of May. The bird species was found near the bank of Shyali River at 218 metres above sea level.
Lesser grey shrike falls under the shrike family Laniidae. The shrike birds are locally called Bhadrai in Nepal. With lesser grey shrike, seven species of shrike have been recorded in the country.
According to conservationists, the new species is visibly distinct from other shrike species found in Nepal. Lesser grey shrike has a black mark on its head and its wings are black with white speculum.
“We sent details of the new species collected from the field to the Nepal Bird Record Committee of the Nepalese Ornithological Union to identify the bird. Noted ornithologists have confirmed that lesser grey shrike was recorded for the first time in Nepal,” said Laxmi Raj Joshi, chief of the Shuklaphanta Conservation Programme of the NTNC.
Lesser grey shrike is a medium-sized migratory bird. It generally migrates to Africa from Siberia through central Asia in autumn and returns in spring.
Lesser grey shrike was recorded in the Ludhiana area of the Indian state of Punjab in 2020.
“Devraj Joshi first observed the species on May 13. The area of its observed location is a river floodplain (seasonally flooded area) dominated by Saccharum spontaneum and Acacia catechu. The bird was found collecting food from the ground and feeding in the nearby transmission line,” reads a press statement released by the NTNC.
Some prominent national and international bird experts including Hem Sagar Baral and Carol Inskipp reviewed the submission and confirmed the species as new to Nepal. With the new record, Nepal now has a total of 892 known bird species.
Shuklaphanta has come to be known as a major birding destination in the country. Many tourists, both international and domestic, visit the protected area to enjoy birds and wildlife. The increasing number of birds and bird species in the park lure droves of tourists each year.
Shuklaphanta is also a major habitat for migratory aquatic birds, including some rare species. To escape the Arctic cold, flocks of birds from Siberia visit Shuklaphanta every year during winter. A rare bird Greater scaup, locally called Kalo Tauke Hansa, was spotted in Shuklaphanta last year.
According to the Shuklaphanta National Park, a total of 460 bird species are found in Nepal.
Established as a wildlife reserve in 1976, Shuklaphanta is the country’s second youngest national park, after Parsa National Park. Located in the southwestern corner of Nepal in the Sudurpaschim province, this park was once a hunting reserve, famed for its abundance of swamp deer, tigers, rhinos and other exotic species. Ever since its conversion into a national park, its animal, bird and fish species have multiplied.