It’s been a harsh winter for sure but that hasn’t stopped the redshanks and the pelicans, the Siberian cranes and gulls or the falcons and warblers, from making a quick pit-stop in the City of Djinns.
During the winter months, from October to March, flocks of feathered beauties fly down from Siberia, Central Asia and Eastern Europe to rest at the green spaces in an around Delhi — be it the Hauz Khas lake, the ridge forests, the Sultanpur lake or the Delhi zoo. So, before the sun gets cruel and the weather warms up, take a break from your tabs and televisions, grab your binoculars and make the most of the last few days of the wintry bliss by going bird watching in the city. Here’s our list of hotspots:
SULTANPUR BIRD SANCTUARY
More than 100 migratory bird species arrive at Sultanpur, located 40km from Dhaula Kuan, every year. Entry fee: Rs. 5, carrying ID proof is a must.
What to spot: Ruff, Siberian cranes, greater flamingo, black winged stilt, common teal, common greenshank, northern pintail, yellow and white northern shoveler, rosy pelican, gadwall, wood sandpiper, spotted sandpiper, Eurasian wigeon, black tailed godwit, spotted redshank, starling, bluethroat and long billed pipit. Their day picnic package, priced at R750 each, includes an entry ticket with guided tour, lunch and evening snacks.
OKHLA BIRD SANCTUARY
Situated on the backwaters of Yamuna with the south-eastern end of Delhi on one side and the western boundary of Noida on the other, over 300 species of birds migrate here every year. Entry fee is Rs. 100.
What to spot: Flamingos, painted storks, purple moorhen, spot-billed ducks and gulls, and white-throated kingfisher.
ASOLA BHATTI WILDLIFE SANCTUARY
Situated along the northern terminal of Aravalli Hill Range at Asola near Tughlaqabad, about 193 species can be spotted here. No entry fee.
What to spot: Painted storks, stilts, sandpipers, and wagtails.
NATIONAL ZOOLOGICAL PARK
Located near the Old Fort (Purana Qila), the zoo plays host to over 100 species of migratory birds from Siberia and southeast Asia every year. Entry fee: Rs. 10
What to spot: Northern Pintail, Common teal, dabchick, coot and shoveller duck.
Aravalli bio-diversity park
Located on the South Central Ridge of Delhi, the Aravalli Biodiversity Park is bounded clockwise by JNU (at Nelson Mandela Marg), the Mehrauli - Mahipalpur road, NH-8 the Palam road and the southern boundary of Vasant Vihar.
What to spot: The black-breasted redstart, red-throated and grey-headed canary flycatcher and the ashy prinia.
Hauz Khas lake
Set against the historic Hauz Khas fort, this artificial lake with lush green surroundings attracts a large number of migratory birds every year. After a day’s walk spotting birds, you can dine at one of the umpteen restos located in the vicinity. No entry fee.
What to spot: Pochard, spot bill duck, little greb, bax fleaded geese and heron.
Do not wear bright or neon-coloured clothes as birds have a great eyesight and are usually shy.
Do carry a binocular.
Wear comfortable shoes so that your feet do not tire, carry sunscreen and a cap to fight the sun, and a bottle of water to stay hydrated.
Start early and make the most of the daylight.
A flock of nothern ducks fly over the Nove Mlyny water reservoirs in front of the church of the village of Musov, where the water reservoirs were built, flooding everything except the church. AFP Photo / Radek Mica