Seabirds Seek Refuge in Bangladesh’s Rivers Amidst Super Cyclone Rimal

An unexpected avian event unfolded as rare seabirds, driven inland by Super Cyclone Rimal, were spotted along the Padma River at the Mawa-Jazira point. However, due to a missed early start, I could not witness these oceanic wanderers myself. My companions, fortunate enough to catch a glimpse, photographed several of these rare species.

Determined to see them firsthand, our team of four—Dr. Shaun Deb, Dr. Nisarg Ami, Ujjal Das, and I—reached the old ferry ghat of Mawar by 8 AM the following day. Despite our enthusiasm, the search along the Padma Bridge pillars initially proved fruitless. Yet, as we neared pillar number 30, a remarkable sight greeted us—a herd of small skunks hunting on fishing nets. Shortly thereafter, we spotted a Bridled Tern, a first for me.

Though we missed the other species reported the previous day, our sighting of the Bridled Tern was memorable. These birds, along with Wilson’s Storm Petrel and Black Warbler, had ventured inland, likely to escape the cyclone’s fury.

This phenomenon mirrors a similar event in 2020 when Super Cyclone Amphan brought five seabird species to Bangladesh, including the Wedge-tailed Shearwater and Long-tailed Skua. These seabirds, typically ocean dwellers, rarely venture inland except during breeding seasons. Their appearance in Bangladesh’s rivers, while enriching birdwatchers’ lists, underscores the dire circumstances that brought them here.

The fate of these displaced birds remains uncertain. While some, like the Bridled Tern we observed, managed to hunt for food, their ability to return to their oceanic homes is unknown. These accidental visits, driven by survival instincts amidst natural calamities, highlight the delicate balance in nature and the challenges faced by wildlife in the wake of climate disturbances.