Migratory birds seem to be giving the Okhla sanctuary a miss this year and instead flocking to the 167-acre Botanic Garden of India Republic.
Environmentalists believe that the polluted waters of the Yamuna and the unsafe conditions in the 350-hectare Okhla park could have prompted the avian visitors to find a new stay this winter.
Botanic Garden is located only 300 metres from the sanctuary and its two new clean water bodies have become a favourite haunt of migratory birds. “We had developed two water bodies of 400 sqm each in September because we realised that birds from the nearby sanctuary were thronging here. We mixed cow dung in the water so that there are more insects in the water body for the birds to feed on. We also planted Kumudini (a lotus variety) and other plants to give the water body a shape. Now, the cacophony of over 20 bird species greets you the moment you enter the garden,” said Sheo Kumar, scientist-in-charge of the botanic garden.
The botanic garden is located in Sector 38A and is home to a variety of rare trees and plants. Developed by ministry of environment and forest and the Noida authority, botanic garden is meant for conservation of biodiversity, rare breed of plants and trees in the country. The garden’s objective is to make people aware on tree conservation and nurture rare varieties.
“We have raised several traditional varieties of trees, including fruit-bearing ones. This is another reason why the birds are flocking here. Since birds prefer the garden to Okhla sanctuary, we need to treat them well,” Kumar said.
The birds spotted here include the purple sunbird, common stonechat, black francolin, common babbler, common tailorbird, plain prinia, white-breasted kingfisher, oriental turtle-dove and common hoopoe, among others. To get a clear count of the avian visitors, the garden has decided to enlist the help of birders to do a bird census.
“We cannot give an exact number of the birds and their species. Only birders can identify birds from their shape, colour and sound,” Kumar said.
“Only 12 species of migratory birds have arrived in Okhla sanctuary so far. Yamuna carries only sewage and this affects the birds,” said Ishwar Singh, range officer, Okhla Bird Sanctuary.