Spotting a bird almost a decade after it was tagged has thrilled bird watchers in the region. A metal ring was placed around the marsh sandpiper by ornithologists in September 2006; the bird survived and was spotted again in 2016. Recently, the Travancore Nature History Society in Thiruvananthapuram and the Tribal Foundation in Kanyakumari took out a bird counting exercise in the Manakudy Bird Reserve and they spotted this marsh sandpiper at Puthalam salt pan.
The team alerted ornithologists with a photo of the bird. It was revealed that the Bombay Natural History Society had done the ringing. S Balachandran of BNHS and P O Nameer of the Centre for Wildlife Studies worked on the subject and confirmed that the sandpiper had been ringed in September 2006 at the Kovalam Salt Pan, part of Manakudy Bird Reserve, said S S Davidson of the Tribal Foundation.
Kalesh S of TNHS said bird ringing was essential to learn about birds' lifespan, their movement and breeding pattern, vital for bird conservation. Ringing is done by placing a lightweight, uniquely numbered metal ring around a bird's leg, providing a reliable and harmless method of identifying birds. It helps in re-sighting the birds that provide data on migratory patterns.
The marsh sandpiper (tringa stagnatilis) is a small wader that breeds in open grassy steppes and wetlands from eastern Europe to central Asia. It is a migratory species, with a majority of the birds flying to Africa and India and some migrating to Southeast Asia and Australia during winter. They prefer to migrate to freshwater wetlands such as swamps and lakes. These birds forage for feed in shallow water or on wet mud. They mainly eat insects, and similar small prey , according to bird enthusiasts.
S S Davidson from the Tribal Foundation said spotting of the bird had revealed that it had survived for 10 years in spite of the fact that it takes long, risky and arduous journeys to and fro in migration from a European country to the tip of the Indian subcontinent.