Enthusiastic school students, equipped with cameras and binoculars, took part in the international bird festival organised at the Okhla bird sanctuary on Friday to identify and learn about birds. Braving the cold, several birders were also present at the sanctuary in the morning to spot migratory birds.
The first-of-its-kind three-day festival is being held from December 4 to promote eco-tourism in the state.
“The primary aim is to sensitise people about the environment and promote its conservation. It is an opportunity for youngsters to observe the rich flora and fauna in the sanctuary. We had invited school students for the festival so that they can get practical lessons on environment,” said Mukesh Kumar, chief conservator of forests, Meerut circle.
Over 150 school students from Evergreen Public School, Delhi; SD Public Senior Secondary School, Faridabad; and Salwan Public School, Delhi enjoyed bird-watching and the walking through the forest.
Some of the students were also seen roaming the sanctuary on bicycles. “I was excited to spot many birds. Some of them, such as the gadwall and northern shoveler, are migratory birds. I began to develop an interest in bird-watching after reading books written by Salim Ali, the renowned ornithologist. I want to pursue my passion of bird-watching,” said Nitant Singh, a class 10 student of the SD Public Senior Secondary School.
The birders were also given a checklist to help them identify and count the number of migratory birds that have arrived so far.
“I usually go to the Bharatpur bird sanctuary in Rajasthan during the winter. But this time, I decided to visit the Okhla bird sanctuary as the bird festival is being organised here. The number of migratory birds has reduced in the last few years due to global warming,” said SK Bansal, a resident of Noida.
According to IC Singh, forest ranger at the Okhla bird sanctuary, the day’s count of birds, including migratory and resident ones, was 633.
“Of a total of 59 species, 15 species of migratory birds, including the gadwall, Eurasian coot, northern shoveler, Eurasian wigeon and common teal, were spotted during the festival,” said Singh.
The forest department is planning to organise more events, such as nature walks, painting competition and cycling race, in the sanctuary. A cycle race is being organised for school students on December 17.