"Apart from global warming, climate changes also affect the migration pattern of birds and result in migration even during non-season instead of the usual winter," says ecologist

Climate change has brought around surprise cheer at the Okhla Bird Sanctuary here. The arrival of a big flock of the Great White Pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus) at the sanctuary in the rainy season is a cause of big cheer for avid bird watchers.

“Apart from global warming, climate changes also affect the migration pattern of birds and result in migration even during non-season instead of the usual winter,” says ecologist and conservationist T. K. Roy.

Ecologists who keep an eye out for such birds all year were thrilled when the flock of over 40, referred to by the locals as hawasil, arrived in the first week of August — much ahead of their normal expected arrival. While their population has been on decline, as per a report of Wetlands International, the arrival of the Great White Pelican in Delhi in a year which had witnessed a drop in migratory bird arrivals during the peak winter season is more than welcome.

“These birds are seen in pairs or flocks and breeds in Eastern Europe and Middle East. This species migrates to India in large numbers during winters and settles down mainly in Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat.”

As per the Asian Waterbird Census report, very few of these pelicans were spotted at the Okhla Bird Sanctuary in Delhi earlier — nine in 2007, 11 in 2008 and two in 2010. Mr. Roy said three species of the white pelican are available in Asia, one of which is the Great White Pelican — normally seen at large lakes and lagoons in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Incidentally, he said, a flock of Black-bellied Terns (Sterna acuticauda), one of the nearly threatened species, had arrived at the sanctuary in mid-July.

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