An almost twofold increase in the number of birds spotted, nine threatened species managing to thrive, and two rare ones finding home at the Okhla Bird Sanctuary marked the first day of the Asian Waterbird Census, which began in the capital Saturday.
T K Roy, ecologist and AWC state coordinator, said the census is carried out at important wetlands across the country to help identify and protect new sites for birds.
“There has been an increase in water bird species diversity. A total of 11,622 birds were spotted across 63 species. This is in comparison to 53 species and 6,183 total birds in 2017. In 2016, this was even less — 46 species and 3,113 birds,” he said.
The 2018 census for Delhi region will be carried out at six important wetlands — Okhla Bird Sanctuary, Surajpur Wetland, Najafgarh Drain & Jheel, River Yamuna, Sanjay Lake and the National Zoological Park. “The Okhla Bird Sanctuary is a unique urban wetland, where water birds are found in the heart of Delhi-NCR. The 2018 census is being carried out by the Wetlands International South Asia in collaboration with the Gautam Budh Nagar Forest department and volunteers from different universities,” he said.
Of the 63 species spotted during the census, 27 were of resident water birds and 36 of winter migratory water birds such as the northern lapwing and the common shelduck. “Among the resident water birds, the purple swamphen and the black-winged stilt duck were the most common species,” Roy said.
Migratory birds from Central Asia such as the greylag geese, bar-headed geese, and north Asian migratory birds such as the common teal, northern shoveler, Eurasian wigeon and Eurasian coot were also spotted on Saturday. From the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the oriental darter and local migratory species such as the painted stork, woolly-necked stork, river lapwing and black-headed ibis made an appearance, alongside migratory species such as the greater spotted eagle and ferruginous duck.