Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Common Redshank

A shank is the part of a leg, from the knee to the ankle- hence it's a no brainer why this bird is called the Common Redshank (Tringa totanus ).
The bird, breeds in NW Himalayas and is a winter visitor to Goa. Now that summer is here- I guess its soon migration time for this guy.
I spotted the bird, when boating along the mangroves of the Salim Ali bird sanctuary this Sunday and it was a wonderful feel to be among the serene waters of the Mapusa river and meander along the roots of the mangroves .

Everywhere that we sailed we saw the coast bordered by mangroves. At many places however mangroves were cleared to build fish farms and retaining walls for the fish farms. The picturesque red mangroves had produced aerial roots that appeared to grow like stilts from branches. Prop roots arching from the side of trunks gave the trees a spider like appearance.

 These dense tangles of roots, penetrate the water and act as sediment traps. Mud and debris washed in with the tides and dead leaves falling from trees are caught among the roots and gradually accumulate to build dry land. It is this slow process that created the Salim Ali Bird sanctuary, where we went birding and massive coastal areas like the Sunderbans and Everglades.
The labyrinth of roots make it difficult for marauding animals to travel through mangrove swamps (man included) and thus the birds, like the Redshank featured today favour it as nesting and resting site.

The hanging spaghetti like objects in the above photograph are called Propagule. Most of the trees that we saw were the Rhizophora mucronata commonly called the red mangrove. The propagule is how the tree propagates. Generally seeds fall on the ground and then sprout and eventually grow into plants and trees. The mangroves however have evolved a slightly different mechanism. If the seed of a mangrove plant were to fall like any other plant, it would float in water and never anchor itself to the river bed.  So after the Rhizophora mucronata  flowers and pollinates, the seeds begin to develop when attached to the tree itself. These can grow upto a meter long and when mature detaches from the mother plant and roots itself on the ground below to grow into a new tree. 

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