Bird count in Dhanauri wetland almost double than 2021, species reduced: Survey

The third Asian Waterbird Census (AWC) for the National Capital Region (NCR), which started at the Dhanauri wetland in Greater Noida on Tuesday, recorded an increase in water birds (nearly double the last year) but a decreased number of species, said officials
The team of officials, including volunteers and forest department officials, recorded 2,459 birds and 40 species on Tuesday. (Sunil Ghosh/HT)
The team of officials, including volunteers and forest department officials, recorded 2,459 birds and 40 species on Tuesday. (Sunil Ghosh/HT)
Updated on Jan 05, 2022 02:34 PM IST
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BySnehil Sinha

The third Asian Waterbird Census (AWC) for the National Capital Region (NCR), which started at the Dhanauri wetland in Greater Noida on Tuesday, recorded an increase in water birds (nearly double the last year) but a decreased number of species, said officials.

The team of officials, including volunteers and forest department officials, recorded 2,459 birds and 40 species on Tuesday. These included 20 species of resident birds, and 20 species of winter migratory birds including five species of threatened birds. In 2021, the AWC recorded 1,344 birds of 48 species, which included 20 species of resident birds, and 28 species of winter migratory birds including four species of threatened birds.

Some of the IUCN red-listed ‘threatened species’ recorded at Dhanauri were Black-necked Stork, Wooly-necked Stork, Sarus Crane, Black-headed Ibis and Common Pochard, said the officials. Unlike the Okhla Bird Sanctuary and the Surajpur wetland, Dhanauri wetland is an independent site, which sees a lot of winged winter visitors, but it does not enjoy any official protection from the forest department. However, the extended monsoon this year has helped the wetland in recording more birds, though the overall neglect has led to a reduction in the total number of species arriving there, added the officials.

Dhanauri is a small wetland spread over an area of 101.21 hectares with crop fields, and is surrounded by several villages. Birders say “it is a good habitat for water birds” and especially for Sarus Crane (the state bird of Uttar Pradesh).

“This area was explored by local birders a few years ago, but the wetland’s existence depends mainly on a good monsoon season. It often almost dries up before summer and turns into a small pond as it does not have an independent water source. The wetland revived a bit due to good rainfall last year, but it is still largely covered by water hyacinth, except a smaller open surface in the middle of it, which is now only habitat for approximately 1,300 migratory ducks and geese,” said TK Roy, Delhi state coordinator of AWC.

He also said that the outer periphery of the wetland has turned into a marshland, mostly covered by aquatic weeds, and some of the areas are totally dried up and have a tall dry grassland. So, there is hardly any more space in the wetland to accommodate more water birds, Roy said.

He said that the “reduced number of species” in the wetland this year could be because of several reasons such as wetland surface being covered by water hyacinth, a shrinking surrounding area, a dried-up resting area of the marshland, and cattle grazing on the grassland of the dried wetland.

The AWC is one of the largest annual waterbird censuses in Asia, conducted by the Wetlands International in January in coordination with the WI South Asia and Bombay Natural History Society. The survey will be carried out between January 1 and 16 throughout Asia. The AWC in Delhi-NCR is being carried out at seven major wetlands, including three in Gautam Budh Nagar and in Najafgarh and Sultanpur bird sanctuary, among others. The AWC team will visit the Surajpur bird sanctuary on Wednesday (December 5) and Okhla Bird Sanctuary on Friday (December 7), according to the officials.

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Friday, January 28, 2022