Pallid harrier spotted in Asola Bhatti Sanctuary as migratory birds arrive in Delhi
As mercury drops, rare species of birds flock to Delhi’s water bodies. This year, birders have spotted black redstart, grey-headed canary-flycatcher and red-breasted flycatcher among the passerine birds.Updated: Nov 27, 2017 11:24 IST
With winter on Delhi’s doorsteps, the city’s feathered guests have started arriving. While thousands of migratory birds have already made the capital’s water bodies their temporary homes till summer, more are expected to arrive as the mercury dips further.
On Friday, Delhi registered its coldest November day in 11 years, as the minimum temperature dropped to 7.6 degree Celsius.
The list of birds arriving in Delhi this year include the pallid harrier — a raptor— which has been spotted for the first time at Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary.
“This is the first time that we have spotted a pallid harrier at Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary. It is an uncommon sighting,” said Sohail Madan centre manager at Conservation Education Centre maintained by the Bombay Natural History Society at the sanctuary.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, this bird of prey, breeds primarily in the steppes of Asiatic Russia, Kazakhstan and northwest China.
“Even though this year we haven’t estimated the number of birds yet, but apparently there seems to be a drop in their number compared to last year. But more are still arriving. The estimation would be conducted in January,” Madan said.
While experts have spotted black redstart, grey-headed canary-flycatcher and red-breasted flycatcher among the passerine birds, water birds such as bar-headed goose, greylag goose, lesser whistling duck and tufted duck have also arrived in large numbers at the wildlife sanctuary.
The water body in the National Zoological Park in Delhi is also teeming with migratory birds.
“They started arriving since end of October. Now there are more than 1,000 birds here. The largest numbers are that of the painted stork. This apart, we have northern shoveler, northern pintail and spot-billed duck among others,” said zoo director Renu Singh.
The feathered visitors for winter arrive in India by October and usually stay on till April. Summer migrant birds start coming to India from mid-March and remain in India till August.
“We are trying to restore another water body in the zoo, which is lying dried up and unutilised. It would be restored before the 2018 monsoon and hopefully the next winter we would be able to create another location for more migratory birds,” said Singh.
Earlier this year the former Union environment and forest minister Anil Madhav Dave had informed the Lok Sabha that an estimated 370 species of birds migrate to India, out of which 175 species undertake long-distance migration using the Central Asian Flyway area which also include Amur falcons, Egyptian vultures, plovers, ducks, storks, ibises, flamingoes, jacanas, pochards and sociable lapwing among others.
At the Yamuna Biodiversity Park too, water bodies echo with the chirping of migratory birds. A preliminary estimation by park authorities, however, suggests that compared to November 2016, the number of birds that have arrived this year are fewer till now.
By the fourth week of November 2016 around 3,500 birds had arrived at the park. This year around 2,800 have arrived till date, authorities said.
“Large flocks of Eurasian coot, gadwall, tufted pochard and northern shoveler have arrived. We expect the numbers to swell as more are arriving,” said Faiyaz A Khudsar, scientist in-charge of the Yamuna Biodiversity Park.
Several factors determine the number and arrival of migratory birds including the changing climate, urban pollution and availability of food and suitable habitat among and poaching among others.
First Published: Nov 27, 2017 11:18 IST