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Birds of paradise

The city of Chandigarh is a birdwatcher’s ultimate quick getaway this winter.

india Updated: Dec 30, 2010 00:33 IST

Escaping the harsh cold of their habitats, hundreds of warbling guests — among them brahmi ducks, red-crusted pochards, grebes and geese — have come flocking to Sukhna Lake and the 190 water bodies dotting the area. And they are being made to feel at home.

Migratory birds start arriving in the Sukhna wildlife sanctuary from early November and their stay lasts till March or April. However, hosting these special guests is not an easy task. “Migratory birds from various cold countries and Himalayan regions have started coming to Chandigarh. They can be seen flocking to Sukhna Lake and at the water bodies in the Sukhna wildlife sanctuary,” says Santosh Kumar, Chandigarh’s chief wildlife warden and forests conservator. “These birds are very sensitive; so we have made arrangements to make the environment conducive for them,” he adds.

Migratory birds come from places like Siberia, China and Afghanistan
Besides, in a bid to attract more tourists to watch the birds, the Chandigarh administration will install a spotting scope at the regulator end of the lake.

“Initially, we will install only one spotting scope on a trial basis. We are bringing it from New Delhi and it costs around R35,000,” Kumar said. Spotting scope is a small portable telescope with additional optics that help in presenting a better image. According to forest officials, the winged visitors have been congregating here for the last 25 years as conditions in the region are very hospitable for them. They will be in their full strength by December end.

In 2009, around 8,000 migratory birds had assembled in this union territory. These birds are also making their abode at water bodies in the Botanical Garden and at Patiala-Ki-Rao Lake in Chandigarh. “Migratory birds travel thousands of miles for several weeks to reach Chandigarh,” said Mahavir Singh, a city based wildlife. “There are watch towers at the sanctuary to observe," Singh said.

First Published: Dec 29, 2010 20:08 IST