Thursday, July 2, 2009

Chambal diary: 2. Black-bellied Tern

Terns and Gulls are closely related and are usually associated with coastal areas. Indian inland rivers have breeding populations of a few species of terns that are specialized to reside and live off these rivers. The Black-bellied Tern is one such species. Good numbers of this species are found in the Chambal suggesting that conditions for breeding and feeding (mostly fish!) are currently good.

These birds breed in early summer on islands formed due to the reduction of the water levels. Dams, increased agriculture, and excessive accumulation of sand in the rivers can limit the formation of islands leading to reduction of breeding activity of birds like the Black-belled Terns. But enough lecturing - here are a couple more photos of this beautiful bird.

Two Black-bellied Terns mate on an island. Eggs will be laid on a small scrape on the sand, and both parents take turns to incubate eggs and to raise the chicks.

Black-bellied Terns are aggressive parents. Here one bird attacks a much larger egret - successfully - which strayed a little too close to the nest.

(Photos were taken on Apr 9, 2009 at the National Chambal Sanctuary, Etawah.)

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