Birdwatchers have got an extended treat. In a first, the stunning Greater Flamingos have overstayed in Delhi by a good six months.
Barring one exception, Delhi/NCR has been the only destination in north India for these birds. In December 2012, nine of these rosy white, long-legged and pink-billed birds arrived in Okhla Bird Sanctuary.
In March this year, the number rose to 210. They were sighted even in the hot months of April, May and June. In July, more than 200 Flamingoes arrived.
These birds are found in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. From Gujarat, Maharashtra and Odisha in India, they normally came to Delhi in winters (November-December) and go back by March.
"Though September-October is breeding season for these birds in the coastal states, they are still here. We're surprised and are studying the change in pattern. Climate change may be one reason," said TK Roy, Delhi state coordinator of Asian Waterbird Census.
Bird expert Bikram Garewal, however, said, "In local migration, overwintering is not totally unusual. The weather is not much different in Delhi from coastal states these days. But we're very excited. They're such a visual treat."
"It's surprising to see Greater Flamingoes adapting in the harsh and polluted conditions within a limited space of 4 sqkm at Okhla for nine months," Roy said.
The maximum number at OBS stood at 500 in the 1990s. It came down to 20 in 2010. They gave the sanctuary the miss in 2011.
When they returned to Delhi/NCR, they also went to Punjab - their first non-Delhi/NCR destination in north India.
In another first, more than hundred of these birds were seen at the Najafgarh sewage drain in Delhi.