The elusive Grey Francolin | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, September 21, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:39 AM, September 21, 2018

The elusive Grey Francolin

The Gorai river, a tributary of the Ganges, through the natural process of the erosion of lands and formation of chars, formed char Horipur at the western tip of Horipur in Kushtia.

Despite being a fertile land, the char cannot be fully tamed as every monsoon it remains submerged in the river. But due to very little disturbance, the place is able to provide habitat for rich biodiversity.

Working towards protecting this landscape and exploring its fauna, I, along with some other naturalists from Kushtia, became a part of “Kichir-Michir”, a bird watching group.

One evening, a part of the Kichir-Michir, Fariha Iqbal Puffin, SI Sohel and I, while following a Barred Buttonquail's call, heard something exceptionally rare. We stumbled in amazement not being able to believe we had just heard the call of the precious Grey Francolin, just days after it was spotted in char Majardiyar in Rajshahi.

A spark of enthusiasm ran through our veins – could it be the confirmation of their return? We set out again, searching the same patches, for a few days in a row.

After an unlucky streak, we headed for the grassland again on July 16. We heard the call again. Holding our breaths, we stared at the grassland, and we found the bird stepping out on the sand, its barred body perfectly reflecting the dried grey grasses. 

The Grey Francolin was last recorded in Bangladesh in 2010 and was then declared to be regionally extinct from our country by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Our record, however, from Kushtia, right after it was found in Rajshahi in the same month, brings new hope for the survival of this bird on our land.

The Bengali name of the Grey Francolin, "Titir", comes from its loud call "Ka-tee-tar...tee-ta¬¬r". Their breeding season spans from March to September, after which they lay around four to nine eggs. The female incubates while the male may stay close and warn her of potential danger. They feed mostly on seeds, grass tops and insects.

But its future is uncertain still.

The place is slowly being taken over by locals and the destruction of the natural habitat dramatically increased after the construction of Horipur bridge.

However, the good news is that it isn't too late for the birds if immediate measures are taken. With its reappearance, twice in a month, eight years after the confirmation of its extirpation, the Grey Francolin has given us one more chance to save it. Now, it's our choice.

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