The stunningly beautiful Greater Flamingos are back in Delhi, and how.
Winter is over but these migratory birds have chosen to stay on in the Capital. Till Sunday, as many as 210 Greater Flamingos were spotted - the maximum in north India - at Delhi's Okhla Bird Sanctuary.
In a first, even the Nazafgarh sewage drain in the city has seen 106 Greater Flamingos till the second week of March.
These rosy-white, long-necked coastal birds with bright pink wing feathers and a heavy pink bill used to come to Delhi every winter. The number of the winged visitors in the 1990s at Okhla went up to 500. It came down to 20 in 2010.
The birds gave the sanctuary a miss in 2011 -though in an unusual development, seven of them surveyed the sanctuary in July 2012. Greater Flamingos returned to Okhla in December 2012. Nine of them were spotted on December 21.
Bird expert TK Roy said, "After a gap of two years, seven Greater Flamingos unexpectedly visited Okhla in the first week of July last year, for a few days, to survey their old habitat. A small flock of nine arrived in the first week of December 2012 and gradually their number crossed the 200 mark."
"With climate changes, the migration pattern also changes. For the first time, a small flock of 26 Greater Flamingos migrated in December, 2012 to the Harika Wildlife Sanctuary in Punjab. With the rise in temperatures, while most migratory birds have flown back, Greater Flamingos have surprised many by staying on," he said.
JM Banarjee, range officer at the Okhla sanctuary, confirmed the development. "We're very happy. These birds are finally back." Apart from the coastal regions, these birds used to visit North India - mainly Okhla sanctuary and Sultanpur National Park- regularly during the winter.
The sanctuary -spread over an area of 3.5 sq km on the Yamuna -is a haven for water birds and a favourite among birdwatchers with more than 300 species spotted so far. After the construction of a barrage and the resulting lake in 1986, bird-watching activity increased.