Migratory bird spotted early in Basai as concerns mount over wetland’s future
Birdwatchers spotted wood sandpiper, a Eurasian winter migratory species, in the Basai wetland this week. The bird usually reaches the wetland by July-end or the first week of August, birdwatchers said.
The arrival of the bird has raised hopes of more migratory birds from Russia, Europe and the Middle East countries visiting the region soon.
While the news enthused birders in the region, they also expressed concerned about the fate of the Basai wetland near which a construction and demolition (C&D) waste plant is being set up.
Environmentalists said the plant will adversely affect the birds’ natural habitat. The Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) has already selected a multinational construction firm to build a debris processing plant over 3.5 acres in Basai. The MCG officials have asserted that the area is not categorised as wetland.
According to the C&D Management Rules 2016, a plant cannot be near a forest, water body, wetland, sanctuary or human clusters. The birders said Basai was not declared a wetland under the Wetland (Conservation and Management) Rules 2010, despite having a rich avifauna and aquatic life.
“Currently, yellow bittern, black bittern, painted snipe, water cock, jacana, and weaver birds are breeding in the wetland,” said Pankaj Gupta, member, Delhi Bird Group.
Other bird watchers also reported breeding of the paradise eye-catcher, Indian pitta, golden oriole, black-headed cuckoo shrike and white-browed fantail.
Bird watchers had expressed concern that with the setting up of the C&D plant, the migratory birds will be forced to look for an alternative area to breed and may completely avoid the Basai wetland area.
“The migratory birds come from various countries and have a set pattern of migration and breeding. They do no take kindly to any changes in these patterns,” said Jaswinder Singh Waraich, a birder.
Another birder, Shobita Asthana, said, “Migration of birds is a natural process and (setting up of the waste plant) can disturb the ecological balance. Steps should be taken to conserve these wetlands.”
HT had reported that some of the birds found in the wetland last year had been spotted there for the first time in 60 years. The brown-breasted flycatcher, scaly thrush and black-naped tit species too were spotted for the first time in the region.
Some of the winter migratory species that visit the area regularly are the yellow-legged quail, song thrush, Tickell’s blue flycatcher, Marshall’s iora, and grasshopper warbler.
Last year, birdwatchers also reported sighting a number of rare birds, including pallid scops, Asian brown flycatcher, Cetti’s warbler, Tickell’s leaf warbler, ashy-headed green pigeon, grey-headed fish eagle, smoky warbler, grey-hooded warbler, jungle nightjar, spotted crake and lesser florican, apart from regular visitors.
The Basai wetland, a natural marshland that serves as an ideal habitat for several resident and migratory birds, saw around 200 species last season. With a view to save the wetland the birders have approached the NGT last month asking that the C&D plant be shifted elsewhere. Notices have been issued to the Haryana government to clarify its stand regarding need to set up the plant in a wetland itself.