Rare Mandarin duck makes appearance in Assam after nearly 120 years // Black-browed babbler found in Borneo 180 years after last sighting

Rare Mandarin duck makes appearance in Assam after nearly 120 years

For the last week or so, visitors to Maguri Beel in the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park in upper Assam's Tinsukia district have been treated to a rare sight – one that they have likely never seen before in their lives. The Mandarin duck, first spotted by Madhab Gogoi, a birder and tour guide from the Tinsukia district, has returned to the wetland after nearly 120 years. According to the birder who first spotted the duck on February 8, the last time the bird was seen in this part of Assam was all the way back in 1902. 

(Photo: Gunjan Gogoi)
The Mandarin duck (Aix galericulata), often described as 'the most beautiful duck in the world', was first discovered and logged by Swedish botanist, physician and zoologist Carl Linnaeus in 1758. According to the eBird website, which provides details descriptions of birds from around the world, the duck is native to East Asia. The males are described as “very ornate with big orangey 'sail fins' on the back, streaked organgey cheeks and a small red bill with a whitish tip.” In comparison, the females are more dull, sporting grey heads, brown backs and white eyestripe. The bird spotted in Assam is believed to be a male. The duck was introduced in the Far East but can still be found in China, Japan, Korea and even parts of Russia…


Black-browed babbler found in Borneo 180 years after last sighting 

In the 1840s, a mystery bird was caught on an expedition to the East Indies. Charles Lucien Bonaparte, the nephew of Napoleon, described it to science and named it the black-browed babbler (Malacocincla perspicillata). The species was never seen in the wild again, and a stuffed specimen featuring a bright yellow glass eye was the only proof of its existence. But now the black-browed babbler has been rediscovered in the rainforests of Borneo.

Two local men, Muhammad Suranto and Muhammad Rizky Fauzan, chanced upon a bird they did not recognise in Indonesia’s South Kalimantan province in October last year and managed to catch it. They photographed the bird, released it, and reported their find to birdwatching groups. Experts from the region confirmed the bird’s identity, noting its strong bill, chocolate colouring and distinctive black eye-stripe. Unlike the taxidermied specimen, the live bird’s iris was a striking maroon colour….


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