Bird-watchers are excited as Greater Flamingos have returned to Okhla bird sanctuary this winter. Nine of them were spotted on December 21.
These coastal birds used to number around 500 at the sanctuary earlier but the number came down to 20 in 2010. They gave the sanctuary a miss in 2011, though in an unusual development, seven of them surveyed the sanctuary this monsoon.
Some other migratory birds have also arrived at the sanctuary this winter. JM Banarjee, range officer at the sanctuary, confirmed the development. "We're very happy. These birds are finally back."
Ecologist TK Roy said, "Apart from the coastal regions, these rosy-white, long legged birds used to visit North India - mainly Okhla sanctuary and Sultanpur National Park regularly during winter. Their maximum number stands at 500 at Okhla sanctuary."
"But the last sighting recorded only 20 of them in 2010. A small flock of seven Greater Flamingoes unexpectedly arrived at Okhla sanctuary in the first week of July, 2012 for a few days to survey their old habitat. Now after a gap of two winters, they are back -- nine Greater Flamingoes were spotted on December 21," Roy said.
Last month, a flock of 12 brightly golden-orange headed and crimson billed diving duck (Redcrested Pochard) arrived at the sanctuary.
A flock of Comb Ducks - large glossy blue-green winged duck with white spectacled head and neck and peculiar fleshy 'comb' on the upper bill also arrived at the sanctuary. They hail from south Asia and to western parts of Southeast Asia and are a widespread winter visitor.