The bird population has doubled in Okhla in the past one year, findings of the Asian Waterbird Census (AWC) 2017 have revealed. A total of 6,183 birds were counted at the Okhla Bird Sanctuary on Saturday, the first day of the census, by 10 volunteers.
“Last year, the presence of 46 water bird species with a total population of 3,113 was confirmed at the Okhla Bird Sanctuary as part of the Asian Waterbird Census 2016. The population has nearly doubled. This year the number of species sighted is more than last year as 53 different birds have been spotted,” ecologist TK Roy, Asian Waterbird Census Delhi state coordinator, Wetlands International South Asia, told HT.
According to him, most of these birds, however, belonged to primarily four species. “On Saturday, we spotted 1,207 Graylag Geese, 515 Northern Shoveler, Barheaded Geese 345 and 2,107 Eurasian Coot. The rest of the species sighted didn’t have such prominent numbers,” Roy said.
This year, six birds which are “threatened”, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list, were also spotted. These are Black-headed Ibis, Painted Stork, Oriental Darter, Common Pochard, Black-tailed Godwit and Greater Spotted Eagle.
This census is being carried out simultaneously in 27 countries from January 7 to 21. For Delhi region, it is being done in three days till Monday in wetland sites like Okhla Bird Sanctuary, Surajpur wetland, Najafgarh drain and jheel, stretches of the Yamuna river and Sanjay Lake, and will see participation of more than 15 volunteers.
With the threat of bird flu in the last few months of 2016, the findings of this census clearly show that H5N8 influenza virus had nearly no impact on these birding hotspots. No deaths were reported from these wetland sites, except for Delhi zoo, which still remains under quarantine.
This yearly census is done in January with the aim of conservation and management of wetlands and water birds. The count is carried out at important wetlands and it helps in identifying and protecting new sites of importance for water birds. The result of the census and information are also used to promote the national water bird, wetland conservation and international cooperation.