Sunday, January 5, 2014

Fewer migratory birds visit Delhi

NEW DELHI: The cold may be making many of us uncomfortable, but currently, the capital is a warm stopover for thousands of stunning migratory birds. Biodiversity parks and wetlands are seeing a surge in the number of birds that began their journeys from Europe, Siberia, the Himalayas and other South Asian countries at the onset of winter.

However, in some areas there is a gradual decline in the number of species that visit every year. At Okhla Bird Sanctuary, about 38 species of winter migratory birds (a total of 5,545 birds as per Asian Waterbird Census) were seen last January, but this time only 22 species and a far lesser number of birds have been spotted till now.

Some experts feel this could a sign of climate change or fallout of too much disturbance of their habitat. "The condition of Okhla Bird Sanctuary is significantly bad. Firstly, because of the high tension wires passing through the park. There is just too much disturbance around the sanctuary," Anand Arya, a birder. He added that migratory bird species have declined in almost all parks

At Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary in Gurgaon also, a far lesser number of birds have been sighted this month. However, about 30 species of colorful migratory birds from the Himalayas and upper reaches have arrived at the Aravalli Biodiversity Park in Vasant Vihar. "These are insectivorous birds that migrate because of scarcity of food during winter in the Himalayas. Delhi is a stopover from them. They may migrate to warmer places," says scientist-in-charge at Aravali Biodiversity Park, M Shah Hussain. He added that a lot of closed canopy birds have also started arriving, like Thrushes.

At the Yamuna Biodiversity Park, about 4,000 birds of 18 to 20 species have arrived. "Initially, we were worried about the low number of birds this time but there was a gradual increase. At Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary, reports suggest the numbers are quite less," said Mohammad Faisal, a scientist at the Yamuna Biodiversity Park. A lot of Bar-headed geese that migrate from Siberia are being seen this time.

"There is too much fluctuation in the water-level at the Okhla Bird Sanctuary. For instance, in October, UP government completely withdrew water from the wetland. From the last week of November to the second week of December, the levels were either too high or too low. We are trying to asses how climate change is also affecting the number of birds the come," explained, T K Roy, ecologist.

At the National Zoological Park, painted storks have arrived in large numbers and given birth to chicks. Teals, wild ducks and pintail ducks have also arrived. Most of these species will return to their breeding grounds in different countries by March.

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