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Count in, bird species tally up to 253 in Delhi-NCR

By HT Correspondent, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 20, 2020 12:02 AM IST

In what birdwatchers called a “spectacular record”, at least 253 species of birds were recorded from Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) on the Big Bird Day (BBD) held on January 12, the result of which was released on Sunday.

This is the third highest tally of bird species in Delhi-NCR recorded after 2005 and 2017 on the BBD, since the annual day-long event dedicated to bird-watching and recording the number of species sighted in a region, started in 2004.

Bird watchers had spotted 271 species in 2005, the highest tally till date. In 2017, at least 268 species were recorded. Last year the count was held in the first week of February and 247 species could be seen.

“Spotting over 250 species on a single day is remarkable. There could be two reasons. First, January 12 was a sunny day and birds might have come out in large numbers. Second, with more people taking up birding as a hobby we had more eyes on the field this time,” said Nikhil Devasar, founder of Delhibird.

This year about 500 birders in 26 teams had participated in the 17th edition of the Big Bird Day in Delhi-NCR across 39 locations.

The organisers also said that most of the birds were sighted around wetlands, such as Najafgarh and Sultanpur, in the outskirts of Delhi and adjoining towns, as they are greener and relatively less disturbed by humans. These wetlands have over the years become a haven for migratory birds.

“The Najafgarh drain and adjoining low-lying areas, including the wetlands of Basai and Sultanpur in Gurugram, are important bird habitats. These areas are host to water birds such as Greater Flamingos,” said Pankaj Gupta, a birder, adding his team spotted around 80 common cranes and over 250 flamingos around the Najafgarh wetlands.

Even though no ‘rare’ species were sighted, a number of ‘special sightings’ were on the list such as the Ferruginous Pochard. It was an uncommon sighting as species is listed in the “near threatened” category of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List.

The sighting of a Great Bittern, a migratory bird from Europe was also a bonus, according to organisers, as the bird is uncommon and only one or two members of this species could be spotted every year. Other important sightings include the Great Crested Grebe and Black-necked Stork

“There are two types of migratory birds - aquatic and terrestrial. The aquatic birds such as Ferruginous Pochard and Red-crested Pochard come from central Asia and Europe. In winters, the wetlands in their home countries get frozen and they migrate to relatively warmer places. Most migration is in the wetlands and the birds stay till late February before they fly back home,” said Faiyaz A Khudsar, scientist in-charge of the Yamuna Biodiversity Park

The teams also found a variety of raptors (birds of prey) such as the Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Eastern Imperial Eagle, Bonelli’s Eagle, Short-eared Owl, Barn Owl and Spotted Owlet.

Apart from Delhi-NCR the exercise was carried out in other states such as Telengana, Madhya Pradesh, Assam, Andhra Pradesh and Kolkata. It was also held in California and Colorado in USA and in the UK.

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