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Birds are back

The Okhla Bird Sanctuary has started to play host to the winter visitors as about 20 species of migratory birds have flown into the park, writes Pawan Pandita.

india Updated: Dec 07, 2006 13:41 IST

Bird lovers, indulge. Migratory birds from Central Asia are back in your neighbourhood. Instead of driving all the way to Sultanpur in Gurgaon or Tilpat in Faridabad, move a few kilometres to the east towards Noida and enjoy watching those rarely found coot from China and Tibet, shovellers from Siberia and common teal, pink-tailed ducks and many more species of birds in the waters near the Okhla Bird Sanctuary and the Okhla Barrage.

KL Sharma, Assistant Wildlife Warden, Noida,says despite poor monsoon, migratory birds from Burma, China, Sri Lanka, Canada and Siberia have reached Okhla.

There are over 20 species of migratory birds in the area. It is difficult to assess the migratory bird population in the area, yet by a rough estimate over 70,000 birds have been seen in the area. Thousands of them can be seen soaring in the skies in the morning to far off places and returning to the area in the evening,” Sharma says.

A migratory bird at the Okhla Bird Sanctuary in Delhi. (Photo by Sanjeev Varma/HT)

Sharma says that as it starts snowing in the Central Asian countries in October, birds start migrating to India via Afghanistan and Pakistan in November. “They will stay here till mid-March depending upon the climatic conditions here.”

As hunting is not prohibited in Afghanistan and Pakistan, birds feel safer in India.

The biggest advantage with Okhla is that it is en route Bharatpur and the Chilka lake in Orissa. Since these migratory birds get a good habitat here, most of them prefer to stop here.Most migratory birds are vegetarian. Their favourite food is gram, wheat, pea And mustard,” says Sharma.

However, he feels that this year the flamingoes are fewer than the previous years.

Most flamingoes come from Kutch in Gujarat. I do not know the reason, but they have definitely been found to be less in number this season in Okhla,” he says.

With the closure of the road from Mayur Kunj to the Okhla Barrage, bird lovers are finding it difficult to enjoy the pleasure of watching these rare species that are not otherwise seen in this part of the country.

Following a court directive, the road through the Okhla Bird Sanctuary was closed last year. Now, one has to foot the distance of over two km to reach the site,” says Mohit Sinha, a bird lover.

Sharma says that one can take a left turn from the DND flyway to reach the sanctuary.

So take a trip down to give a treat to your eyes.