A group of four families — all compulsive birdwatchers — have stumbled upon an all new natural wetland at Dhanauri Khurd village area, located about eight km from the Formula One Track on the Yamuna Expressway.
Home to around 133 species of different migratory as well resident birds, this wetland spans over 50 acres of marshy terrain. Adding to the delight of birdwatchers and environmentalists is the fact that the piece of marshy land is surrounded by green multi-crop agricultural fields, perfect breeding spaces for the Sarus crane, the state bird of Uttar Pradesh.
Surprisingly though, the Gautam Budh Nagar district forest department is unaware of the existence of the wetland. The Uttar Pradesh chief secretary in 2009 had directed the district magistrates to identify all wetlands and take steps to preserving them.
“We will look into it and do the needful if we spot it. As of now I do not about the existence of any such wetland in this village,” said KK Singh, divisional forest officer Gautam Budh Nagar.
The group of nature lovers that first spotted the wetland comprise members from Noida and Delhi and is led by birdwatcher and photographer Anand Arya. They had begun their mission to spot the Sarus Crane at the onset of rainy season.
“After I read a story in Hindustan Times that several Sarus Cranes were killed in Greater Noida villages in January, 2013, I thought there must be a habitat for breeding Sarus there. I, along with my friends, started tracking these birds, and finally with the help of local farmers found this huge chunk of hidden wetland last month,” said Arya, who first clicked Sarus crane chicks swimming in an Alipura village pond.
Experts said it was the first time that a Sarus (chick) had been seen swimming and photographed. There are no images of this bird swimming available on Oriental Bird Images — a database created by the Oriental Bird Club to bring together photographs of bird species from the oriental region.
Largely owing to the housing boom in the National Capital Region, Sarus cranes are vanishing fast. The urbanisation of Gautam Budh Nagar and Bulandshahr districts — once a favourite abode for wildlife and wildlife enthusiasts - has majorly contributed to the dwindling number of Sarus cranes.
“I will visit this wetland for inspection and take steps to conserve this wetland so that Sarus breeding habitat can be protected,” said PC Gupta, chief executive officer of the Yamuna Expressway industrial development authority.
Some of the migratory birds that have been spotted at this wetland are European Roller, Bristled Grassbird, Pallid Harrier, Montagu’s Harrier and a large number of waterfowl like Garganey, Common Teal, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Gadwall, among others.