Every winter, there’s exhilaration among bird watchers as they witness rare species of migratory birds that arrive at wetlands and other green zones across Delhi-NCR. These feathered creatures escape harsh climates and fly to the city to seek a more conducive habitat for nesting and breeding. This year has been no different for avian enthusiasts. Although a formal count is underway, the city’s bird watchers have spotted diverse species—both rare and common—of birds.
Series of rare sightings
A few of the species that have been spotted in the city this year include the great cormorant, gadwall, tufted pochard, the Eurasian coot, water pipits, crested grebe, common crane, short-eared owl, steppe eagle, the green sandpiper, among others. The demoiselle crane was among the rare birds witnessed this year. “The demoiselle crane was spotted in early November. We also spotted the hen-harrier, early this month,” shares Bhrigu Kumar Phukan, a bird enthusiast from Malviya Nagar. Another uncommon sighting this year is the white-crowned penduline tit, a passerine bird belonging to the Remizidae family.
“We spotted the bird two weeks ago near Budhera, Gurugram. We got about two to three birds and subsequently seven were spotted,” explains Kavi Nanda, another birder from Gurugram. Nanda, along with Nikhil Devasar, founder of Delhi Bird Foundation, also mentions spotting rare species such as the water pipit, grey-headed lapwing, and the black-bellied plover. “We sighted the water pipit, which is a scarce winter visitor to Delhi-NCR, in really good numbers. Also, the black-bellied plover, which are coastal birds and uncommon on inland, was spotted at Budhera,” Nanda adds.
A loss of habitat
Even though most bird species that were expected have arrived, the number has been low and their advent slightly delayed. Devasar blames this on habitat loss taking place due to the mismanagement of wetlands of Delhi-NCR. “Generally all the wetlands are full by this time, but not this year. The reason is a lot of habitat destruction,” he shares. Nanda affirms Devasar’s concern, adding, “Wetlands are very important habitats for migratory birds since most of these birds are ducks, geese, and waders so they require water. But what has been happening recently is that there is a lot of construction going on... and there is a change in land use because of which our wetlands are shrinking.”