City’s wetlands to see waterbird census in January

The Wetlands International (South Asia) and the forest department will begin the annual waterbird census across Noida’s wetlands in January, officials said.
By Kushagra Dixit, Noida
PUBLISHED ON DEC 21, 2020 11:33 PM IST
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The Wetlands International (South Asia) and the forest department will begin the annual waterbird census across Noida’s wetlands in January, officials said.

Wetlands International said they have already begun enlisting volunteers to cover the three major wetlands – Okhla Bird Sanctuary, Surajpur Wetland and Dhanauri Wetland.

The Asian Waterbird Census (AWC) is an annual count of waterbirds in India and Australia in January. The count not only gives an idea of the birds at the wetland but also the health of the wetland -- a good numbers of waterbirds indicates that it has adequate feeding, resting, roosting and foraging spots.

Also expected in the count are migratory birds that arrive from the cold central and north Asian countries by October, and fly back by March and April.

The migratory birds expected to be found include the black-tailed godwit, common pochard, river tern, black-bellied tern, greater spotted eagle, spotted redshank and Eurasian curlew.

“Migratory birds would have already arrived at the wetlands making it the right time for the census. Seven wetlands across Delhi-NCR will be covered between January 2 and 18, 2021. In Gautamm Buddh Nagar, we will begin with Surajpur on Janaury 2, followed by Dhanauri on January 5 and Okhla on January 17,” said TK Roy, ecologist and conservationist, AWC.

Roy said that although the wetlands had healed from human impact during the lockdown following the Covid-19 outbreak, it deteriorated soon after the restrictions were lifted.

“The picture after the relaxation has not been not very positive. Several wetlands, for example the Najafgarh Jheel in Delhi, suffered human activities like fishing. Also, the migration observed so far was slower this season across northern India. We have our fingers crossed,” said Roy.

“We had cleaned the Okhla wetlands and made it more amenable for the birds. Let’s hope for a better turnout this year. We will provide logistic support and all possible help to Wetlands International,” said PK Srivastava, divisional forest officer, GB Nagar.

The previous edition of the census at Surajpur wetland and Okhla Bird Sanctuary found a drop in the overall population of waterbirds and species diversities. It was also the first time that the census was held at the Dhanauri wetland, which is proposed to be declared a Ramsar site and Sarus sanctuary.

The 2020 census recorded 2,092 birds from 39 species in Surajpur (In 2019, it was 3,034 birds from 42 species). At the Okhla Bird Sanctuary, the count was 8,776 birds from 62 species as against 12,212 birds of 63 species in 2019. Dhanauri had 6,227 waterbirds fromm 59 species.

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