NESTING SITE STUDIES OF WHITE-BELLIED SEA EAGLE (HALIAEETUS LEUCOGASTER GMELIN, 1788) ALONG KONKAN COAST, DIST. RATNAGIRI, M. S., INDIAAditi S. Neema, B. Anjan Kumar Prusty, Nikunj B. Gajera and Poonam N. Kurve
Nesting behaviour of White-bellied Sea Eagle has been meagerly studied though; the raptor is widely distributed along the coast of Maharashtra. Present study was carried out by conducting surveys for locating their nesting sites along coast of Ratnagiri district and 12 nests of White-bellied Sea Eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster at different sites along Velas to Dabhol were studied. Various ecological parameters such as nesting tree species, nesting tree height, nesting tree GBH, nest height, geo-coordinates, distance from coast, disturbance level were considered. WBSE was found to be most abundantly nesting (N =12) on Casuarina equisetifolia tree which, accounts to 83% of the total nesting trees and only 02 nests, just 17% of the total nesting trees studied, were on Sterculia foetida. In most cases, it was observed that WBSEs prefer nest trees with larger GBH as compared to same tree species of smaller girth. Location of nest from the supratidal mark was measured to study nesting preference about distance from the sea and we found that, the nearest nest was 30 m away from the coast and the farthest one was at a distance of around 900 m. A positive correlation (Pearsonâs Correlation test, r = 0.865, P < 0.05) between the nest height and the nest tree indicates the characteristic nest building of WBSE on the top most canopy of the nesting tree. Highest and lowest nest height recorded was 34 m and 18 m from ground, respectively. At each study site, the level of threat was noted with respect to anthropogenic disturbances and those caused by other species. The land ownership of the nesting sites was noted as it would be a crucial parameter for preparing conservation guidelines.