At a time when most of its water bodies are drying up due to the scorching heat, Delhi is witnessing a rare wildlife phenomenon at Shanti Van where nearly a dozen species of South Asian waterbirds have found a safe refuge in a small seasonal wetland which is still alive. Ecologist T. K. Roy is thrilled at the development and says it is rare for such waterbirds to be found in Delhi at this time of the year. “Wetlands, whether big or small, seasonal or perennial are very important for the aquatic ecosystem, biodiversity and waterbirds’ habitat. While wetlands in Delhi either get completely dried up or are quickly degrading, the seasonal wetland in the middle of Shanti Van, which usually is full of waterbirds during winters but dries up in the summer months, has sprung a surprise this time round.”

Mr. Roy, who is involved with the annual waterbird census in Delhi, says: “Among the waterbirds which can still be seen at Shanti Van wetland are the spotbill duck, little cormorant, little grebe, white-breasted waterhen, black-winged stilt, common moorhen, little egret, intermediate egret, red-wattled lapwing, white-throated kingfisher, cattle egret and pond heron.”

For nature lovers, the wetland is thus providing not only a reprieve from the heat but also something for the eyes to savour. “It’s really surprising and amazing to see that in mid-summer, some of the major species have even been able to successfully breed here and grow chicks,” he said.

Among the waterbirds which are successfully nesting and breeding are the spotbill duck, which is a beautiful native species of wild duck. It successfully bred this summer and 16 chicks are growing up in the wetland.

Then there is the little grebe, a small diving native bird species, which has got five chicks. The black-winged stilt, which is a tall common wader species, has laid eggs and is waiting for them to hatch on a tiny island. The red-wattled lapwing is a common resident bird species and it too has laid eggs.