The wildlife enthusiasts conducted the first ever summer bird count in south Delhi’s Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary recently in which they recorded 58 species of birds. The highlight of the event was Peregrine Falcon, a winter migratory bird spotted during this time of the year.
“Peregrine Falcons generally leave Delhi by March or April as they are winter migratory birds. But their spotting at this time of the year is surprising,” said Sohail Madan, environmentalist and centre manager at Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary. “It is after 10 years that it has been spotted in the sanctuary,” said Madan, who was also part of the team that conducted the survey.
Environmentalist and birdwatcher Prashant Subramanium, who was part of the team that conducted the census, said, “Though not much is known about its wintering ecology and migration, the bird is found throughout the subcontinent from Kashmir eastward along the foothills of the Himalayas to Arunachal Pradesh till Kanyakumari.”
Experts think that the bird having overstayed might be a good sign because it shows that they have enough prey — small and medium-sized birds — in the forest area. The summer count shows that despite massive pressure on habitats, some areas in the Capital remain rich in conserving birdlife.
Peregrine Falcon is the fastest flying bird in the world. It is a formidable hunter which preys on birds mid-flight. It hunts from above, scanning the ground for any suitable prey. As soon as it sights the prey, it goes into a steep swift dive which can reach top speeds of almost 320 kmph. However, there is another school of thought that believes that the bird might have overstayed due to Uttarakhand forest fire as it is found in good numbers in the hill state.
The other birds that were sighted included Egyptian Vulture, White-Browed Fantail, Lesser Goldenback Woodpecker and Indian Grey Hornbill. The sighting shows that vultures which had practically become extinct in and around Delhi are making a comeback.
This protected area contains one of the last surviving remnants of Delhi ridge hill range and its semi arid forest and its dependent wildlife, the northernmost extension of the Aravalli mountains that begin in the state of Rajasthan.
Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary, Bombay Natural History Society and Forest Department have employed 132 Ecological Task Forces who have done a good job in restoration of wildlife through massive tree plantation drive. They have stopped mining in the area and all the mining pits are being utilised for rainwater harvesting as a reason wildlife is returning to the sanctuary.