Over 2,000 birders flocked to birding locations such as Basai, Sultanpur National Park and Okhla Bird Sanctuary on the occasion of the annual Big Bird Day event on February 7.
The birders gathered at wetlands and parks in around 100 groups, with binoculars, cameras and bird dictionaries. They took notes and shared their observations. The observations by all groups will be compiled and released on Monday.
“The Big Bird Day is observed every year on any day between February and March. On that day, birders from different groups come together to observe the variety of species that flock from different parts of the world,” Pankaj Gupta of Delhibird Group, said.
The Big Bird Day, which is being observing since February 2004, was started by the Delhibird group -- a 15-year-old organisation. According to birders, this annual event helps in documenting almost 65% of India’s bird diversity.
Though the weather was slightly foggy with light showers, it did not deter the bird watchers from walking around to explore the habitat, behaviour and eating habits of the migratory birds.
“The weather was slightly foggy in the morning, making it a little difficult to spot birds. Despite the weather conditions, we roamed around each location in the Delhi-NCR, where birds are usually spotted,” Abhishek Gulshan, a birder, said.
Most of the migratory birds spotted on the Big Bird Day started their journey from countries in Central Asia, North America and Europe. As many as 160 different species, including water rail, water pipit, cinnamon bittern and peregrine falcon were spotted in Basai wetland, Sultanpur National Park and Najafgarh.
However, some birders expressed their concern about encroachments in areas where birds are spotted. Pointing at the Basai wetland, one of the birder said that many locations where birds flock might disappear in a few years because of development activities.
“There has been unchecked and rapid development throughout the Delhi-NCR. This has already affected the migratory birds and what is more worrying is that locations such as the Basai wetland may disappear in a few years,” Neeraj Chabhra, a birder, said.
The first Big Bird Day was held on February 22, 2004 when 236 species of birds were identified across Delhi. The highest number of bird species recorded in a single Big Bird Day was 271, in 2005.
The data collected on the day is of great importance for measuring actual bird diversity in a region. It can form a rich database, especially if accumulated over several years, conservation experts said.